Aviation Historian 32
C.Gibson - Hawker's Star Destroyer
A colour-reversed section of a 1958 Convair blueprint detailing the incorporation of a nuclear powerplant into a Saro Princess flying-boat. Convair was to provide the reactor and heat exchangers; the aircraft was to use Pratt & Whitney T57 engines, which could use either conventional fuel or heat from the reactor’s heat exchangers.
By the mid-1950s the concept of nuclear-powered aircraft had been converted into hardware in the USA, the sole XB/NB-36H making its first flight with a nuclear reactor aboard on July 20, 1955. The aircraft completed 89 flying hours with the reactor operational, but only for shielding trials; the reactor was never used for motive power.
While researching guided weapons (specifically ramjet-powered stand-off missiles) at Brooklands Museum recently, I came across a drawing of what at first glance looked like a missile with a pitot intake and three long aerodynamic surfaces. Closer examination revealed some interesting annotations to the drawings, starting with the title - "Suggested General Arrangement for a New Type of Military Aircraft" - and that it had been drawn by Mr R.C. Abel of Hawker Aircraft Ltd, Kingston, on October 17, 1957.
The drawing by R.C. Abel includes a good amount of detail on the huge craft’s layout and systems, including the “pinched plasma” powerplant and the 52 rocket nozzles for VTOL operations from water.
BELOW The illustration incorporates several section drawings of the proposed machine, including this section roughly halfway along the main fuselage. The author also uncovered a number of other Abel designs, including one for the “P.1151” - a four-engined version of the unbuilt P.1129 strike fighter.
The sheer size of the Hawker design becomes clearer when shown in scale with the heaviest aircraft ever built, the Antonov An-225 Mriya (Cossack).