Hawker Hunter F.4 (late production): The Hunter Matures

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Introduction: The Hunter F.4 was the first definitive service version of the Hunter, with the F.1 and F.2 effectively acting as pre-production aircraft. It was upon this aircraft that the foundation for the Hunter’s success was laid, having ironed out the majority of the issues that plagued the earlier members of this family. The aircraft would become a major success, and would go on to have a long career.

This suggestion was originally made on the old forums by @PremiumFuelOnly; this suggestion would’ve been a lot harder to research had it not been for their suggestion.

Description: The Hunter F.4 is more or less a Hunter F.1, but with several major improvements. To begin with, the wing was changed out, with increased space for fuel tanks, as well as “wet” hardpoints for 100 gallon drop tanks, which significantly improved its range. Another change was in regards to the engine, which was changed to the Avon 115, which helped solve the surging issues which plagued the F.1s when they fired their guns. However, this was not the only engine the type used, as early production variants retained the Avon 113 due to a shortage of 115s, and later aircraft would receive the Avon 121. Another issue that cropped up on early Hunter variants was the tendency for spent ammunition links and casings to hit the underside of the aircraft and damage it. This was solved by fitting a pair of two teardrop-shaped fairings underneath the ejection chutes to collect the spent links. These were quickly given the nickname of “Sabrinas” by the crews, named after a well-endowed British actress from the period. The final major change was the addition of the follow-up assisted tailplane, which helped with pitch controls at high speeds. The Hunter F.4 would enter service in 1954, with the type being retired by 1957, as the Hunter F.6 began to enter service. This was not the end of the F.4 however, as it was widely exported to many nations, such as Sweden and Belgium. The F.4 would also serve as the base for the many Hunter trainer variants, these being the T.7, T.8 and GA.11, which would serve all the way into the 1990’s.

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Performance:

Spoiler

Fuel and Oil Data:

Internal Fuel Capacity: 414 imperial gallons (202 gallons front tank, 72 gallons center tank, 140 gallons wing tanks)

Oil Capacity: 17 pints

Fuel Weight: 3188 lbs (internal only)

Engine Data:

Manufacturer: Rolls-Royce

Designation: Avon Mk.121

Type: axial-flow turbojet

Compressor Stages: 12-stage compressor

Combustion Chamber: cannular

Turbine: 2-stage

Fuel Grade: AVTAG

Power Data:

Military Power: 7575 lbf @ 8100 RPM (10 minutes takeoff/combat combined)

Intermediate Power: ? lbf @ 7950 RPM (30 min)

Maximum Continuous Power: ? lbf @ 7700 RPM (unrestricted)

Dimensional Data:

Length: 45 ft, 11 in

Height: 13 ft, 2 in

Wing Span: 33 ft, 8 in

Wing Area: 340 sq. ft (31.59 sq. m)

Wing Loading: 50.74 lbs/sq. ft @ loaded combat weight

Weight Data:

Empty Weight: 12543 lbs

Clean Loaded Combat Weight: 17400 lbs

Maximum Takeoff Weight: 21735 lbs

General Performance Data:

Max Speed: 620 knots (1148 kph) @ SL

Optimum Climb Speed: 0.87 M

Undercarriage up, flaps up Stall Speed: 135 knots (250 kph) @ (max landing weight)

Undercarriage down, flaps down Stall Speed: 125 knots (231.5 kph) @ (max landing weight)

Takeoff Distance @ SL: 750 yards (zero wind, 17400 lbs, 15°C)

Landing Distance @ SL: ?

Service Ceiling: 52000 ft

G-Limitations:
Positive: +7G

Negative: -3.75G

Maximum Speeds (clean configuration, loaded combat weight):

At SL: 620 knots (1148.2 kph)

Note: 620 knots is given in the pilot’s manual (with max speed attained as 0.93-0.95 M), other sources state 610 knots. Nevertheless, the identical max speed ASL to the F.6 is dubious considering the disparities between the F.4 and F.6. Confirmation on a top speed is pending and dependent on the acquisition of the F.4’s ODM.

At 36000 ft: 0.94M (1160.7 kph)

Time to Altitude (maximum power, clean aircraft, loaded combat weight):

To 10000 ft: 2.5 min

To 20000 ft: 4.25 min

To 30000 ft: 6 min

To 40000 ft: 8.75 min

To 50000 ft: 11 min

Armament:

Guns: 4x ADEN 30mm cannon (600 rounds total, 150 RPG)

Bomb/Rocket/Missile Ordnance: N/A

Conclusion: The Hunter F.4 would be a lovely addition to the UK tree. It would be an easy addition, as the aircraft is already more or less modelled in the Swedish tree, though with some changes. I think it would be a great addition to the tech tree in a folder with the Hunter F.1. It is a real big shame that Gaijin seems to have skipped over 50’s jets, and a huge missed opportunity. Top tier needs some major decompressing, and one way of achieving that would be stretching out the BRs above 7.0 and filling the gaps with new aircraft, like the Hunter F.4, F-86H, MiG-17PF, and the like.

Sources:

Spoiler

“Hawker Hunter in British Service” by Martin Derry and Neil Robinson

Thunder & Lightnings - Hawker Hunter - History

[1.0] Hunter Development & Variants

https://www.baesystems.com/en/heritage/hawker-hunter

Hawker Hunter F.Mk.4, XF974 / HABL003129, Royal Air Force : ABPic

Hawker Hunter F.Mk.4, 7780M / 41H-670767, Royal Air Force : ABPic

Hawker Hunter F.Mk.4, XF946 / HABL003114, Royal Air Force : ABPic

Pilot’s Notes Hunter F.4, AP.4347D-PN, 3rd Edition, January 1958

(All image rights go to their respective owners)

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