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Hawker Woodcock
Hawker Woodcocks from No. 3 Squadron
Role Fighter
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Hawker
Designer Capt. Thomson
W.G. Carter
First flight March 1923
Introduction 1924
Primary user Royal Air Force
Produced 1924-1926
Number built 64
Variants Hawker Danecock

The Hawker Woodcock was a British single-seat fighter built by the Hawker Engineering Company as the first fighter to be produced by Hawker Engineering (the successor to Sopwith Aviation). It was used by the RAF as a night fighter in the 1920s.

Design and development[edit | edit source]

The Hawker Woodcock was designed as a night fighter in 1922 to meet specification 25/22.[1] The chief designer was Captain Thomson, and the prototype serial number J6987) was first flown with a 358 hp (267 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar II engine in March 1923 with F. P. Raynham at the controls. It featured a two-bay wing with the inner struts at about ⅓ span.

The prototype was rejected because of lack of manoeuvrability as well as suffering from a serious wing flutter and ineffective rudder control. Following the first flight W. G. Carter took over as chief designer and changed the design, reducing the wingspan by 2 ft (0.61 m) and making it a single-bay structure. The powerplant was changed to a 380 hp (283 kW) Bristol Jupiter IV engine. The modified design was designated the Woodcock Mk II and first flew in July 1923. A number of accidents occurred and the design was progressively strengthened until the structural weakness had been cured.

The Woodcock was armed with two .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns, synchronised to fire through the propeller disk. The guns were mounted externally on each side of the fuselage, just below the edge of the cockpit.

The first order for the Royal Air Force was for 10 Woodcock IIs, with the first six being completed without any night flying equipment.[1] The service eventually ordered a total of 62 aircraft. One of the first batch of aircraft was given a civil registration to allow it to be demonstrated in Scandinavia.[1][2] On return to the United Kingdom the demonstrator was entered into the 1925 King's Cup Air Race but it crashed during the race in bad weather near Luton.[1]

Operational history[edit | edit source]

The first aircraft to be delivered to the Royal Air Force entered service with 3 Squadron in May 1925 at RAF Upavon. No. 17 Squadron was only other operational squadron with first deliveries being made in March 1926. Once the type's early structural problems were solved, the Woodcock proved popular with its pilots. It was replaced by the Gloster Gamecock in 1928. However, some Woodcocks were still flying in 1936.[3]

In June 1927 a Woodcock II of No. 17 Squadron was borrowed by the notable aviator Charles Lindbergh.[1] He used the aircraft to fly back to Paris from London soon after his trans-atlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis.[1]

Hawker Woodcock Mk II

Variants[edit | edit source]

Woodcock Mk I
Single-seat night fighter prototype with two-bay equal span wings and a 358hp Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar II engine, one built.[1]
Woodcock Mk II
Single-seat night fighter for the RAF with a Bristol Jupiter IV engine and other design changes, One prototype and 62 production aircraft built.[1]
Hawker Danecock
Single-seat fighter aircraft for Denmark with Jaguar IV engines and Madsen machine guns. Three aircraft were built.[1]
L.B II Dankok
Single-seat fighter aircraft for the Danish Army Air Service, and the Danish Naval Air Service. A total of 12 were built under licence in Denmark.

Operators[edit | edit source]

 United Kingdom
Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark

Specifications (Woodcock Mk II)[edit | edit source]

Data from The British Fighter since 1912[4]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 25 ft 7 in (7.80 m)
  • Wingspan: 34 ft 8 in (10.57 m)
  • Height: 9 ft (2.74 m)
  • Wing area: 356 ft² (33.1 m²)
  • Empty weight: 2,014 lb (915 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 2,979 lb (1,354 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Bristol Jupiter IV 9-cylinder radial engine, 425 hp (317 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 123 kn (141 mph, 227 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 90 kn (103 mph,[5] 166 km/h)
  • Range: 243 nmi (280 mi, 451 km)
  • Service ceiling: 20,550 ft (6,270 m)
  • Wing loading: 8.37 lb/ft² (40.9 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.143 hp/lb (0.234 kW/kg)
  • Climb to 10,000 ft (3,050 m): 8 min 20 sec


  • 2 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns on sides of fuselage
  • See also[edit | edit source]

    References[edit | edit source]

    Notes[edit | edit source]

    1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Munson, Kenneth. 'Woodcock and Fury - Hawker's first and last biplane fighters." Aircraft Illustrated Extra, Issue 4, May 1970, Ian Allan Limited, pp. 6–12.
    2. "Registration G-EBMA." United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority. Retrieved: 2 November 2009.
    3. Mason 1991, p. 106.
    4. Mason 1992, p. 169.
    5. Jackson 1973, p. 345.

    Bibliography[edit | edit source]

    • Jackson, A.J. British Civil Aircraft since 1919, Volume 1, 2nd Edition. London: Putnam, 1973. ISBN 0-370-10006-9.
    • Mason, Francis K. The British Fighter since 1912. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1992. ISBN 1-55750-082-7.
    • Mason, Francis K. Hawker Aircraft since 1920. London: Putnam, 1991. ISBN 0-85177-839-9.

    External links[edit | edit source]

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