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Hawker Siddeley Harrier

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The Harrier is a successful close-support and reconnaisance fighter aircraft with V/STOL capabilities, currently built by British Aerospace and McDonnell Douglas.

Harrier GR-7.
Larger version

The Harrier family was started by the Hawker P.1127. Design began in 1957 with Sir Sidney Camm[?] and Ralph Hooper of Hawker Aviation[?] with Stanley Hooker of the Bristol Engine Company. Rather than using rotors or a direct jet thrust the P.1127 had a innovative vectored thrust turbofan engine and the first vertical take-off was on October 21, 1960. Design continued after Hawker Siddeley Aviation was created with the Kestrel, which first flew on March 7, 1964. The Kestrel was a evaluation aircraft offered to military test pilots from Britain, the US and West Germany (the Tri-partite evaluation unit). Successful tests led to an order for sixty aircraft from the RAF in 1967. The Harrier GR Mk.1 was the first production model, it first flew on December 28, 1967, and entered service with the RAF on April 1, 1969. Construction took place at factories in Kingston-upon-Thames in southwest London and at Dunsfold, Surrey. The latter adjoined an airfield used for flight testing; both factories have since closed. The ski-jump technique for STOL use by Harriers launched from contemporary Royal Navy aircraft carriers was tested at the Royal Navy's Somerset airfield called Yeovilton. Their flight decks were designed with an upward curve to the bow, following the successful conclusion of those tests. The air combat technique of VIFFing was evolved in the Harrier - vectoring in forward flight - to out manouevre a hostile aircraft or other inbound weapon.

Table of contents

Harrier GR Mk.1


  • Length: 13.90 m
  • Height: 3.45 m
  • Span: 7.70 m

Power plant

  • 1 Rolls Royce Bristol Pegasus 101 turbofan with four swivelling nozzles, generating 19000 lbs of thrust.


  • Basic operating weight: 5530 kg
  • Max. payload on external stores: 2300 kg plus
  • Max. take-off weigth: 11,500 kg


  • Max. speed at sea level: 1185 km/h
  • Ceiling : 15 000 m


There was no internal armament. Two 30-mm Aden cannon pods could be fitted under the fuselage sides. There were an additional four underwing and one under-fuselage pylon hard-points to carry various loadouts, including bombs, unguided rocket pods, the Martel or AIM-9D guided missiles, reconnaissance pod or fuel tanks

The RAF ordered 118 of the GR Mk.1 to 3 series Harrier. The AV-8A for the USMC and the Spanish airforce was very similar and 113 craft were ordered.

  • Hawker P.1127 (1960)
  • Hawker Siddeley Kestrel (1964)
  • Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR Mk.1 (1966)
  • Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR Mk.1/1A (1969)
  • Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR Mk.3/3A
  • British Aerospace Sea Harrier FRS Mk.1 (1979)
  • British Aerospace Sea Harrier FRS Mk.51 (1983)
  • British Aerospace Sea Harrier FA2 (1988)
  • Hawker Siddeley Harrier T Mk.2/2A (1970)
  • Hawker Siddeley Harrier T Mk.4/4A
  • British Aerospace Harrier T8 (1994)
  • Hawker Siddeley AV-8A Harrier (USMC version, 1970)
  • Hawker Siddeley AV-8S Matador (for Spain, 1983)
  • McDonnell Douglas-BAe AV-8B Harrier II (1983)
  • British Aerospace-McDonnell Douglas Harrier GR Mk.5/5A (1985)
  • British Aerospace-McDonnell Douglas Harrier GR7 (1992)
  • British Aerospace Harrier T Mk.10
  • McDonnell Douglas-BAe AV-8B Harrier II Plus (1992)

The later model Harriers are easily distinguished by their extended wingspan, the wings extending beyond the outrigger wheels that are at the wingtips of the earlier versions (including Kestrel prototypes and the Sea Harrier).

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