Beyond the Harrier - Kingston V/Stol Projects 1957-1988 2003-01-3050
The aircraft design team based at Kingston-upon-Thames in England (called variously Hawker, Hawker Siddeley Aviation and British Aerospace over the years) produced a large number of Vertical and/or Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL) projects in the 1957-1988 timeframe. The unique feature of their work was that, alone among Western aircraft designers, they had the practical experience of the P1127/Harrier family to draw on throughout the period. This paper presents comprehensive coverage of the studies carried out at Kingston, perhaps the most wide-ranging series of V/STOL combat aircraft projects undertaken by any design team. It excludes the very substantial work carried out under the P1127 and HS1174 (two-seat Harrier) designations throughout the same period – these will be examined in a future paper.
Although they explored the full spectrum of technical solutions to the problems associated with V/STOL, Kingston always saw vectored thrust as the preferred one. This was not because it was the ‘optimum’ solution, but rather because it was the simplest of the concepts explored and had the day-to-day experience of Harrier operations behind it. Although none of the projects in this paper came to be flown, several of them were seriously studied, with extensive model tests carried out, mock-ups built and even prototype construction undertaken. Much of the knowledge gained was fed back into Harrier developments and ultimately provided a solid foundation for UK participation in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme.
Although covering the full breadth of Kingston project studies, including national and international collaborative ones, the paper also provides greater detail of those projects that were studied most extensively, such as the P1154 of the 1960s and the P1216 of the 1980s. These can be seen as forming a ‘main line’ of Kingston's project evolution.
This paper is the seventh in a series examining V/STOL aircraft projects during the Twentieth Century.