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Historical : RAF Last Updated: Apr 21st, 2015 - 23:52:06

Hawker Hunter FGA9
By Mike Regan. IPMS Wellington, New Zealand
Apr 11, 2006, 11:11

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The Hawker Hunter is one of the true classics of British aviation. The prototype (WB188) took to the air for the first time on the 20th of July 1951. After overcoming a multitude of teething problems, most of which were exacerbated by the "Super Priority" production status given to the new aircraft after the outbreak of the Korean War, the Hunter went on to serve with no less than 30 front-line RAF squadrons and was exported to some 18 countries. Around 2000 Hunters were ultimately built, a figure that well may have been higher had it not been for the disastrous effects of the 1957 Defence White Paper.

The subject of the Revell kit, the Hunter FGA9 came into being as a replacement for the DH Venom, which was the standard, ground –attack type then in service with the RAF. Based on the existing Hunter F6 airframe – all Hunter FGA9s were rebuilds of existing Mk6 airframes – the upgrades included a new Rolls-Royce Avon 207 developing 10,050lbs static thrust, full tropicalisation for Middle East service as well as strengthened wings that could carry a greater range of ordnance. Externally, the major differences were the addition of the drag chute fairing over the tail cone and the cutouts in the flaps to give clearance for the newly added 230-gallon underwing tanks.

While retaining the basic Hunter armament of four 30mm Aden cannons, the Hunter FGA9 could also carry a wide range of bombs and rockets, giving it a hefty ground – attack punch.

The first squadron to receive the new FGA9 variant was 8 Squadron based at Khormaksar, Aden in January of 1960. 208 Sqdn based at Nairobi in Kenya followed this and then 43 Sqdn based at Leuchars in Scotland. All three squadrons were ultimately to see considerable action in the Persian Gulf area during the ‘60s dealing with the seemingly endless unrest and turmoil that was stirred up by any number of local governments and factions.
Two other overseas squadrons were to receive the Hunter FGA9; one being 20 Sqdn based at Tengah in Singapore in September 1961. 20 Sqdn Hunters were extensively used during the Indonesian "Confrontation" from 1963 to 1967. The other overseas unit was 28 Sqdn based at Kai Tak in Hong Kong.
India, Singapore, Oman, Kuwait, Iraq, Chile, Abu Dhabi, Kenya, Lebanon, Qatar and most notably, Switzerland operated export variants of the Hunter FGA9.

Foreign Hunters saw considerable combat action, with Indian Hunters seeing service in two wars against Pakistan and Iraqi and Jordanian Hunters seeing action against Israel. Lebanon’s Hunter fleet was wrecked during the vicious civil war of the 1970s.
Swiss and Indian Hunters have been amongst the longest serving of the type, with the Swiss only retiring their Hunters with the advent of the F/A-18 Hornet and the last Indian Hunters were finally retired in October of last year after 44 years of service.

On the home front, Hunter FGA9 equipped both Nos 1 and 54 Sqdns during the 1960s with 1 Sqdn converting to Harriers in 1969 and 54 Sqdn going on to Phantoms in 1970. Perhaps the most valuable service given by the FGA9 was with the Tactical Weapons Unit (TWU) based at RAF Brawdy. The TWU was made up of three "Shadow" squadrons, Nos 63, 79 and 234, all of which were tasked with providing weapons instruction to aircrew. 79 Sqdn’s role was to give refresher courses to new weapons instructors and former ground personnel, whilst 63 and 234 Sqdns provided instruction to trainee pilots fresh from the Flying Training Squadron at RAF Valley.

Hunters continued to give service in this role until 1980, by which time they had been replaced by Hawk T1 trainers.

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