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The British Aerospace Hawk is a small, single engined, two-seat advanced trainer, which entered RAF service in 1976.

In 1980 it replaced the Hawker Siddeley Gnats which the Red Arrows had flown since 1965.

The Hawk was the result of a contest which was won in October 1971 by Hawker Siddeley, with their study known as HS.1182AJ. However it took until March 1972 before the contract was signed  for 175 aircraft. The first flight of the Hawk took place on the evening of 21 August 1974 (the first production Hawk, XX-154, was also used as the prototype), this was only 11 days before the Farnborough show where it was in direct competition with the Franco-German Alpha Jet. The Alpha Jet had made its maiden flight on 26 October 1973. Although the Hawk was only in its first phase of flight testing it  did appear at the show on time, albeit limited to gentle maneuvering. 

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The Hawk is powered by a Rolls-Royce Turbomeca Adour Mk 861 turbofan which develops a static thrust at sea-level of 5700 lb, enough to give it a maximum speed of 645 mph. In a dive the Hawk can reach a maximum speed of mach 1.2. The Adour is specifically designed for reliability throughout a   rigorous military flight schedule. The Hawks airframe is one of simplicity of design providing high utilization rates at a low cost to the operator. An important factor in the battle to meet the exacting demands of cost effective training and operational use. Most of the Hawk structure consists of aluminium alloy sheetwork, extrusions and machine parts, with a small part of steel used for highly loaded fittings. All replaceable parts are built to  interchangeable standards. For convenience of manufacture, the   fuselage is divided into a front, centre and rear assembly, which  are joined together to form a single unit. The tailplane, fin and  wings are removable items. Considerable attention has been given to human engineering in the design and layout of the cockpit. All instruments and controls are logically grouped together, ahead and in easy view of the pilot. The conventional control column and rudder pedals are connected to the tailplane, ailerons and rudder by push-pull rods and mechanical  links and levers, no control cables are used. Most of the rods are made of aluminum except in the engine bay area  where stainless steel is used. Each cockpit is fitted with a fully automatic Martin-Baker Mk 10 zero/zero rocket assisted ejection seat which provides escape facilities at all altitudes and speeds. The cockpit transparency incorporates a miniature detonating cord (MDC), that fractures the transparency after ejection initiation, allowing a clear path for the ejecting crewmember.

Click here to view the cockpit controls

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Since the Hawk is such a responsive, agile and predictable aircraft, students remain with the Hawk throughout their advanced training syllabus, it is also a capable front line fighter carrying warloads up to 6800 lb (3100 kg). These are carried beneath the fuselage and on four underwing pylons.

A load factor of +8g, with warloads up to 3000 lb (1360 kg) is possible and remains high at +6g with a 5000 lb (2270 kg) load. This exceptional performance made it the obvious choice for the Red Arrows. Its aerobatic capabilities are convincingly demonstrated over and over again by the team.

In the winter of 1979/80 the Red Arrows took delivery of the Hawk. Aside from its paint scheme the Red Arrows Hawk differs little from the standard T MK1. Each of the teams aircraft carries a ventral 70 Imp gal (318 l) tank containing diesel oil and red and blue dye, in separate compartments. On selection these fluids are pumped to three jet pipe nozzles where the hot temperature produces the smoke.

Worldwide sales of the Hawk now exceed 300 aircraft to nine airforces including Finland, Indonesia and Switzerland. The most significant order came from the US Navy who selected the Hawk as the basis for its advanced jet strike training programme. Known as the T45 Goshawk, these aircraft are constructed jointly by British Aerospace and the McDonnell Douglas Corporation. The T-45 has a number of changes from the original Hawk. The nose gear has been strengthened with twin wheels and a catapult tow-bar. Two airbrakes have been positioned left and right of the tail to accommodate the arrester hook. Since its first introduction the Hawk has been constantly updated. The latest MK 100 and 200 (single seat version) versions feature advanced avionics and can be fitted with a variety of equipment according to the customers requirements including radar, lasar range finders and sophisticated electronic countermeasures (ECM). These modifications will ensure that the Hawk remains at the top of the advanced jet trainer league for many years to come.


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Wing span: 9,39 m.

Length: 11,85 m.

Height: 4,00 m.

Max. speed sea level: 645 mph.(1037 km/h.)

Max. altitude: 48,000 ft.(15894 m.)

Empty weight: 8,000 lbs.(3628 kg.)

Max. weight: 18,390 lbs.(8330 kg.)

Powerplant: one Rolls-Royce Adour Mk 151

Thrust: 5,200 lbs.(2359 kg.) 

Special thanks must go to all the Red Arrow pilots and special to:

the Groundcrew.

all photographs by: EJ van Koningsveld


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