BAE Hawk T.1A Red Arrows: British Superstar

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Introduction: In the world of aviation, very little gives a sense of pride of one’s own airforce more than looking at a show, filled with stunning displays and intricate manoeuvres, of their display team. These display teams are essentially the ambassadors of the airforce to the local and international audience, instilling a sense of pride, as well as showing off the rigorous training the airmen go through in order to make such complex displays work. Few display teams do this as well as the Red Arrows.


History of British Display Teams: Since the 1920’s, no Royal Airforce display would be complete without some aerobatic displays. At the time these would pull off some amazing shows, with two or more aircraft flying in close proximity, sometimes even tied together. After the war, and with the dawn of the Jet Age, aerobatic displays would reach new peaks, pushing human senses to the limits, flying at faster speeds than ever before. At the time, there was no official RAF display team, with squadrons taking up the role out of their own accord. In 1950, No.72 Squadron used a team of seven Vampires, and No.54 Squadron with their Vampires, with their aircraft being notable for the first use of smoke, with diesel being sprayed into the jet pipe, where it was turned into white smoke. No.54 Squadron would later reequip with the Hunter, and form the Black Knights. These are not to be confused with the Black Arrows from No.111 Squadron, who also operated the Hunter, who were notable for undertaking a 22-ship loop at the 1958 SBAC Show at Farnborough. At the time, rivalry between the squadrons was high, and many squadrons attempted to form their own display team. These included No.92 Squadron’s “The Blue Diamonds” operating Hunters, No.56 Squadron’s “The Firebirds” operating Lightnings, notably becoming the last team to use frontline fighter aircraft, and “The Red Pelicans” from the Central Flying School using Jet Provosts. These were in addition to “The Tigers” from No.74 Squadron, who also operated Lightnings. At this point, it became clear that, although each team provided spectacular displays, some streamlining was needed in order to reduce duplication between the teams. In addition to this, it made more sense, as it would allow the Squadrons to focus on flying operations. At this point, another team began displaying a five ship of bright yellow Folland Gnats, under the name of the Yellowjacks in 1964. The following year, they returned, this time with their aircraft painted red, and flying under a name now familiar to millions across the globe: the Red Arrows.

History of the Red Arrows: The Red Arrows originally operated the Folland Gnat, using its agility and manoeuvrability to their best advantage. The team became operated a seven ship first, with a nine ship from 1968 onwards. By 1980, the Gnats had been replaced by the BAE Hawk T.1A. From Each aircraft came with a smoke generator with each aircraft using a red, white or blue colour. The team has always structured their displays to keep the crowd’s attention. The first half of the display usually involves the aircraft flying aerobatic manoeuvres in unison. In the second half, the Synchro Pair, aircraft No.6 and 7, split off to perform their well-known crosses, which are interlaced with the other aircraft. The total time for display is around 20 minutes. The Team has held major displays in Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and Australia, promoting a positive image of the RAF and the British Aerospace industry wherever they go, essentially acting as direct ambassadors to the people who watch them.

Description: From 1980 onwards, the Red Arrows have operated the BAE Hawk T.1A. The Hawk has been the main frontline trainer of the RAF since 1975, with the T.1 having served as a trainer up until 2021, when they were retired, making the Red Arrows the last operator of the type within the RAF. The T.1As were also intended to serve as backup fighters, being flown by flight instructors, in case of a “hot war” with the Soviet Union, generally operating in tandem with Tornado F.3. These were usually aircraft taken from Weapons Training Units, but were also wired to carry the AIM-9L Sidewinder. If war ever did break out, the Red Arrows would be tasked with the air defence role, with photos existing of the aircraft carrying Sidewinders on wing rails and an ADEN pod on the belly hardpoint during training exercises.



HAWK T1/1A Specifications
Crew 2
Span 9.39m
Height 3.99m
Length 11.96m
Weight Empty 3,647kg
Max Take Off Weight 8,569kg
Combat Radius 556 km/345 miles
Max Speed 622mph/1,000kph at sea level
Engine 1 x Rolls Royce/Turbomeca Adour Mk 151 turbofan
Armament (T1) 1 x 30mm Aden cannon pack
Up to 5,600lb/2,540kg of under-wing stores for rockets, bombs and missiles
Armament (T1A) In addition has inboard pylons for Sidewinder AIM-9 AAM.

Conclusion: I believe that this would make for an interesting premium or squadron vehicle for the UK tree, with the famous nature of the Red Arrows likely being a good selling point for the aircraft. In my opinion, this would have made for a better squadron vehicle than the Sea Harrier FRS.1, which should have gone in the tech tree.



Red Arrows:

Red Arrows History

Red Arrows - This is Flight

BAE Hawk T.1A:

Royal Air Force Information - RAF Aircraft - Hawk T1/T1A - Hawk T2 (128) - r7a7 - Armed Forces

UK Government Web Archive

“Teach for the Sky: British Training Aircraft since 1945” by James Jackson

Re-equipping the Red Arrows . . . | Page 2 | Secret Projects Forum
Author’s personal collection


Good rank 5 potential +1


+1 the british tech tree needs some maneuverable light aircraft, give it 2 Aim-9Gs and slap it at 9.7/10.0 as an alternitive to the hunter