Aviation Historian 4
C.Farara - Happiness is ... Vectored Thrust
Hawker Siddeley Harrier Mk 52 G-VTOL and Aermacchi MB-326K prototype I-KMAK at Santa Cruz in 1973.
Hawker Siddeley Harrier Mk 52 G-VTOL was originally painted in a patriotic red, white and blue scheme designed by HSA Deputy Chief Engineer John Fozard. It remained in this scheme only a matter of weeks, however, the Harrier running off the runway at Dunsfold just three weeks after its fi rst flight, which had been made on September 16, 1971.
By the time G-VTOL was ready to fly again in May 1972 it had been painted in a two-tone desert camouflage scheme with pale blue undersurfaces, which was more suitable for the upcoming sales tour of India and the Middle East. The “Navy” legend in white on the fin was added for ship trials aboard HMS Fearless at Greenwich in June 1975.
In 1979 G-VTOL underwent another change in markings, being painted in a grey and white semi-naval scheme which matched that of its demonstrator stablemate BAe Hawk ZA101/G-HAWK. When G-VTOL was selected for trials with the Skyhook system in 1985, the Skyhook legend and badge were applied to the forward fuselage and fin respectively.
Although the Harrier was built entirely with function in mind and was arguably not the most beautiful of aircraft, John Fozard’s initial colour scheme for G-VTOL accentuated the jet’s unusual lines and even managed to create an impression of elegance.
Hawker Siddeley Harrier Mk 52 demonstrator G-VTOL in the distinctive and stylish - although unfortunately rather short-lived - initial red, white and blue colour scheme designed by John Fozard, hovering at Dunsfold shortly after its first flight in September 1971.
Taken sometime during the three-week period G-VTOL was flown in its first colour scheme, this photograph captures the aircraft making a turn over the western perimeter track at Dunsfold. Within a matter of days it would run off the runway during a test flight and be repainted in a desert camouflage scheme for its upcoming promotional tour.
The manufacture of G-VTOL depended on the goodwill of numerous firms, including Rolls-Royce, which loaned and provided technical support for a total of six Pegasus 11/Mk 103 engines throughout G-VTOL’s career.
Following its mishap at Dunsfold in October 1971 G-VTOL was repaired and made ready for a sales tour of the Middle East and India, for which it was painted in a new desert camouflage colour scheme with pale blue undersurfaces. It is seen here hovering during tests at Dunsfold before setting off on the first leg of the tour.
Flying down to Rio - G-VTOL pays a visit to the 125 ft (38 m)-high Cristo Redentor statue on the peak of Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the 1973 South American sales tour.
The hardworking G-VTOL aboard HMS Hermes during service release trials in February 1977. Trials at sea gathered pace during 1977-78 in preparation for the introduction of the Sea Harrier, the first of which, XZ450, first flew in August 1978.
As the marketing emphasis changed, G-VTOL was repainted in a grey and white colour scheme, as seen here in company with BAe Hawk demonstrator ZA101/G-HAWK returning from the 1979 Paris Air Salon.
Extensive use of G-VTOL was made for the testing of BAe’s remarkable Skyhook concept, in which a stowable articulated gantry arm, stabilised to neutralise a ship’s motion, would be extended over the side to “grab” a Harrier. The pilot would fly under a four-point contact pad and enter the hover. When the pad made contact with the Harrier a jack-rod would be lowered into a socket in the Harrier’s fuselage and the arm would bring the aircraft aboard. The idea was successfully tested on numerous occasions, but was not adopted as the Cold War wound down.
G-VTOL leaps into the air from the variable-angle ski-jump at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Bedford. The multi-hydraulic-jacked structure at Bedford was an ingenious piece of engineering, capable of rotating 20,000lb (9,000kg) of Harrier moving at speeds of up to 100kt (185km/h); its total cost was reported to be less than ?250,000.
Following its retirement in 1986 after a long and productive career, G-VTOL was acquired in 1989 by Brooklands Museum (www.brooklandsmuseum.com), where it is kept in excellent condition and often reunited with old friends, including former test flight observer Mike Craddock, who is a voluntary steward at the museum.
With roundel applied on the aft fuselage, G-VTOL points towards the ski-jump erected at Farnborough by the Royal Engineers. The aircraft would later also have military serial ZA250 applied, to allow the carriage of trials weapons, which was not permitted on civil aircraft.
G-VTOL is prepared for another flight at Dunsfold. Two-seat Harriers intended for use only in the training role, essentially non-RAF operators, retained the broader-chord fin as seen here, the RAF retrofitting its two-seaters with a smaller fin for better ground-attack performance.
In September 1971 a reception was held at Dunsfold for the directors and executives of the suppliers which had contributed to the building of G-VTOL. This group photograph shows the guests and their Hawker hosts, notable among the latter being Purchasing Manager Ambrose Barber, third from right in the top row in front of the tailplane, to the right of which is Commercial Manager Colin Chandler. The guests included representatives of Rolls-Royce, Dowty Rotol, Flight Refuelling, GEC Marconi, Hymatic, Vickers Sperry Rand, Smiths Industries, Triplex, Normalair, SARMA (UK) and Fireproof Tanks Ltd among others.
Crunch! Groundcrew take precautionary measures after G-VTOL comes to grief during a demonstration in Abu Dhabi on July 16, 1972. Damage was confined to the starboard wingtip and outrigger, the noseleg and a twisted nose.