Hawker Sea Hawk FGA.6 WV826
In 1999 the Malta Aviation Museum Foundation acquired Sea Hawk FGA.2, WV826 from Phoenix Aviation Museum. It is the first ship-borne jet aircraft on display and reflects part of Malta's long and historical links with the Fleet Air Arm in the post war years. WV826 has been painted to represent a No.804 Squadron FGA.6 aircraft coded 161 of the Suez Crisis period, hence the black and yellow identification stripes. Operating from HMS Bulwark, the squadron made attacks on Egyptian airfields and provided support for ground troops. On returning home early in 1957 (following a brief stop at Hal Far) the squadron transferred to HMS Ark Royal, and its fin code changed from B to O, but evidently the Suez markings were not immediately painted out.
This aircraft is in the Romney exhibition hangar.
At the end of 1944 Sydney Camm, Hawker's famous chief designer, produced an original design for a jet fighter designated the P.1040 built around Rolls Royce's new B.41 turbojet engine. After both the Air Ministry and the Admiralty remained sceptical, in October 1945 Hawker and Rolls Royce decided to proceed on their own with a prototype. Towards the end of 1945 the Navy decided that Camm's fighter and the new jet engine looked promising and an order to proceed to construct three prototypes was given in May 1946.
The first flight of VP401 was made at Boscombe Down on September 2, 1947. VP413 was the first of the naval prototypes and flew on September 3rd 1948. Deck landings were made in 1949 on H.M.S. Illustrious, as a result of which certain improvements were made. In 1949 VP401 piloted by Neville Duke won the National Air Races at Elmdon, achieving a speed of 508 mph. It then won the SBAC Trophy at an average speed of 510 mph.
Hawkers received the first production contract from the Royal Navy for a total of 151 aircraft named Sea Hawk. It entered service with the Fleet Air Arm with No.806 Naval Air Squadron in March 1953, embarking in February 1954 on H.M.S. Eagle. The carrier then moved to the Mediterranean and its aircraft also operated from Royal Naval Air Station Hal Far (H.M.S. Falcon).
During the Suez Campaign of 1956 six squadrons of Sea Hawks took an active part from the carriers Eagle, Albion and Bulwark. The aircraft here proved its effectiveness in the ground attack role. The Royal Netherlands Naval Air service, the West German Navy and the Indian Navy were the other foreign countries which purchased and operated the Sea Hawk. The Indian Navy Sea Hawks were carried on the aircraft carrier Vikrant, in 1961 when it called at Malta. The aircraft operated from Hal Far during this period.