Aviation Archive Issue 25 - 2016 UK

(Jacob Rumans) #1



esigned during World War 2 but
delivered too late to see service,
de Havilland’s sublime Hornet took
up where the Mosquito left off. Although its
geneology was unquestionable, its piston-
power quickly became archaic and its career
was to be short-lived.
The de Havilland DH103 Hornet was a high
speed, long-range fighter, initially conceived as
a private venture for use in the Pacific theatre
against the Japanese by both the RAF and RN.
Major design and development work took place
during 1943-44 and construction was of mixed
balsa/plywood similar to that of the Mosquito.
However, the Hornet differed in incorporating
stressed Alclad lower-wing skins bonded to the
wooden upper wing structure. The Hornet’s
wings were also a synthesis of aerodynamic
knowledge that had been gathered since the
Mosquito’s design process, being much thinner
in cross-section, with a laminar flow profile.
The Hornet used ‘slimline’ Rolls-Royce Merlin

Grumman F7F Tigercat De Havilland Hornet

engines with engine ancillaries repositioned
to minimise frontal area and drag, and had
propellers that rotated in opposite directions
in order to eliminate torque. The unpressurised
cockpit was mounted well forward in the
fuselage and was housed under an aft-
sliding, perspex blister canopy. Armament
comprised 4 x 20mm Hispano cannon with
a total of 760 rounds and the aircraft could
also carry 2 x 1000lb bombs or up to 8 x 60lb
rocket projectiles. The first prototype made its
maiden flight on 28 July 1944 with Geoffrey de
Havilland at the controls.
The aircraft entered RAF service with
No 46 Squadron at RAF Horsham St Faith in
February 1946 and eventually equipped seven
squadrons. The Hornet proved the fastest twin
propeller-driven aircraft ever to see RAF service
and its pilots considered it a superb aircraft to
fly. Only the timing was wrong, as the age of the
powerful piston fighter had come to an end,
and with it the Hornet.

De Havilland Hornet F1

Type: Twin-engined long-range
Crew: One
Length: 35ft 6in (10.82m)
Wingspan: 45ft (13.72m)
Height: 14ft 2in (4.32m)
Empty: 11,292lb (5,122kg)
Max T/O: 15,820lb (7,176kg)
Max Speed: 475mph (764km/h)
Range: 1,480 miles (2,383km)
Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Merlin
engines of 2,070hp each
Armament: 4 × 20mm Hispano MkV
cannons, 2 x 1,000lb
(454kg) under wing
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