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LIFTOFF A British Aerospace

Sea Harrier FA.2 takes off from


HMS Invincible during Exercise
Magic Carpet 05 in March 2005.

20

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march 2016

JUMP JET
IN THE ELUSIVE QUEST TO DEVELOP
A PRACTICAL VERTICAL TAKEOFF
AND LANDING WARPLANE, ONLY THE
HAWKER SIDDELEY HARRIER HAS ACHIEVED
REAL-WORLD SUCCESS BY STEPHAN WILKINSON
March 2016

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21

TEST SQUADRON Hawker


Siddeley Kestrels, the
Harriers forerunners,
line up for takeoff and
landing evaluations.

22

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march 2016

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PREVIOUS PAGES: CROWN COPYRIGHT; LEFT: TRINITY MIRROR/ALAMY; RIGHT: IAN TYAS/KEYSTONE/GETTY IMAGES

The Harrier is a
remarkable airplane.
Which, unfortunately,
is not the same thing
as a great airplane.

work in the early 1920s developing an all-metal monoplane


OP\MZ\PM?QJI]T\1V\PM
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?QJI]T\QV\PMUQL![XZWposed a Harrier-like VTOL
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Harrier looks the way it does
ITUW[\ MV\QZMTa JMKI][M WN
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blage balances in relation to the airplanes center of gravity


and the wings center of lift. The Harriers Pegasus, however,
is immovable. Its four nozzles determine the all-important CG,
and the airplane must remain perfectly balanced around that
point. To keep the moment arm of the weight forward of the
engine manageable, the cockpit must be snuggled as close to the
Pegasus as possible, and the pilot ends up sitting like a Formula 1
driver, with his shoulders not many inches forward of the big
three-disc fan.
Small as it is, the Harriers wing still must be high-mounted, to
allow a clear area below for the swiveling nozzles thrust. (That
wing is a single spar-through structure that has to be entirely
removed to access the engine for heavy maintenance or an
engine change.) And with the wing up so high, retractable main
TIVLQVOOMIZKW]TLJMI`ML\WQ\WVTa_Q\POZMI\LQK]T\a6WZ
can the gear be designed to retract into the fuselage, since this
would put the wheels directly into the jet blast of the nozzles.
The rear nozzles are jet-hot, of course, and even the cold air
coming out of the front nozzles is hot enough to boil water or
blister tires. So the Harrier has centerline bicycle gear, with a
single double-wheel main strut aft, a nosewheel forward and a
pair of outriggers near the wingtips.
The considerable anhedral of the Harriers wings and horibWV\IT[\IJQTQbMZ[M`Q[\[\WKW]V\MZ\PMIQZXTIVM[LM[QZM\WZWTT
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is a small yaw indicatora miniature weathervane, essentially
sailplane technologyjust in front of the windscreen, to keep
the pilot from venturing into this danger zone
The Harriers elephant ear airscoops are so enormous beKI][ML]ZQVO\PMUW[\KZQ\QKITXPI[MWNQOP\PW^MZQVOIVL
TIVLQVO\PMZMQ[VWZIUIQZMMK\NZWUNWZ_IZLUW\QWVI[
there would be on a conventional jet. The Harrier must gulp its
own intake air rather than having it shoved down its throat. To
aid in accomplishing this, each scoop also has a row of blow-in
doors just aft of the intake lip. They are spring-loaded and are
sucked in automatically to provide more intake area when

READY FOR ANYTHING A Harrier lurks beneath camouage


netting in Germany during a NATO exercise in June 1981.

THE BRITISH
RIGHTLY CLAIM
HARRIER
PATRIMONY, BUT
THE UNITED STATES
WAS INVOLVED
WITH THE
AIRPLANE FROM
THE OUTSET.
the airspeed diminishes.
(Unlike a conventional aircrafts engine, the Pegasus
is running at full power and
bMZWIQZ[XMMLL]ZQVO\PMVIT
stages of an approach and a
vertical landing.)

hy the increased
interest in vertical
\ISMWIVLTIVLing? What eventually became the Harrier had
originally been viewed as an
QV[\IV\\ISMWNI[\KTQUJQVO
short-range bomber interceptor, since World War II had
made aerial blitz Britains
great fear. But at the height of
the Cold War, it also became
apparent that World War
III could well begin with the
Warsaw Pacts air forces cratering every runway in Europe
L]ZQVO\PMZ[\PITNPW]Z\P][
OZW]VLQVO6)<7[KWV^MVtional frontline fighters and
attack aircraft. Unless, that
Q[\PMa_MZMIJTM\W\ISMW
NZWUZIVLWUNIZUMTL[IVL
quickly prepared short strips.
Though the Harrier was
JZQMaXMZKMQ^MLI[I><74
airplane, the source of the
jump-jet moniker, it quickly
became obvious that a
[\ZIQOP\]X\ISMWKW]TLWVTa

be done with a near-empty


airplanecarrying just
enough fuel to do its act at an
airshow, say. In the real world,
0IZZQMZ[ JMKIUM ;<7>4
machines. Carrying bombs,
bullets and a mission-load of
OI[\PMa_W]TL\ISMWIN\MZ
a groundor carrier-deck
run and land vertically only
after returning with ordnance
IVLN]MTM`XMVLML
The British rightly claim
Harrier patrimony, but the
United States was involved
with the airplane from the outset. Wibaults vectored thrust
was initially championed by
6)<7[=;N]VLML5]\]IT
Weapons Development
Agency, after U.S. Air Force
Colonel Willis Chapman of
\PM5?,)_I[KWTTIZMLJaI
persuasive Wibault at a Paris
Air Show. Before the British
government ever got behind
the Hawker Siddeley P.1127
XZWXW[IT6);)_I[\M[\QVO
wind-tunnel models of the airXTIVMI\Q\[4IVOTMa:M[MIZKP
Center and had built a
1/6th-scale, radio-controlled
P.1127 model that successfully made vertical takeoffs
IVLTIVLQVO[6);)XI[[ML
Q\[VLQVO[JIKS\W0I_SMZ
which was hugely encouraged
by the data.
Three-quarters of the funding for the original Pegasus
engine prototype was provided by the U.S., the remaining 25 percent covered by
Bristol as a private venture
because the government
couldnt afford to back the
companys achievement. And
of course the major purchase
of first-generation-Harrier
)> )[Ja\PM=;5IZQVM
Corps and the consequent formation of a license-production and development venture
_Q\P 5K,WVVMTT ,W]OTI[
(before it became part of

March 2016

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23

TECH NOTES BAE HARRIER II GR.5


STAINLESS STEEL
WING LEADING EDGE
(UNIQUE TO HARRIER GR.5)

AUTOMATIC
MANEUVERING
FLAP

ROLL CONTROL
REACTION AIR
VALVE

ZERO SCARF
FORWARD (FAN AIR)
SWIVELING NOZZLE (A)

AILERON

OUTRIGGER
HOUSING

OUTRIGGER
LANDING GEAR

PITCH AND
YAW CONTROL
REACTION AIR
VALVES

ECM
EQUIPMENT
MODULE

AIR
BRAKE
REAR SWIVELING
HOT EXHAUST
NOZZLE (B)

SPECIFICATIONS

LENGTH
46 feet 4 inches

ENGINE
Pratt & Whitney
F402-RR-406 (Pegasus 105)
turbofan producing 21,800
pounds of thrust

HEIGHT
11 feet 8 inches

WINGSPAN
30 feet 4 inches
WING AREA
344 square feet

24

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march 2016

WEIGHT
13,970 pounds (empty)
22,950 pounds (normal takeoff)
20,595 pounds (vertical takeoff)
FUEL CAPACITY
7,500 pounds (internal)
Up to four 300-gallon tanks
(external)

MAXIMUM PAYLOAD
13,235 pounds (short takeoff)
4,000 pounds (vertical takeoff)
MAX SPEED
675 mph (at sea level)
647 mph (at altitude)
CEILING
38,000 feet
FERRY RANGE
1,800 nautical miles

MAIN
LANDING
GEAR

ARMAMENT
One General Electric GAU-12/U
25mm cannon with 300 rounds
in adjacent identical pod
9,200 pounds of bombs,
rockets, missiles or auxiliary
fuel tanks
Note: general specs are for the
McDonnell Douglas AV-8B

LEADING EDGE ROOT


EXTENSION
ROLLS-ROYCE
PEGASUS 11 (MK.105)
TURBOFAN ENGINE

MARTIN-BAKER MK.12
EJECTION SEAT

FERRANTI FIN-1075
INTERNAL NAVIGATION
SYSTEM

BLOW-IN
INTAKE DOOR

PITCH
CONTROL
REACTION
AIR VALVE
HIGH
RECOVERY
INLET

LANDING LIGHTS

NOSE LANDING GEAR

300-GALLON AUXILIARY
FUEL TANK
POD-MOUNTED ROYAL ORDNANCE
ADEN 25MM GAS-OPERATED
REVOLVER CANNON

HEART OF THE HARRIER


Seldom in aviation history have
airplane and engine been as
mutually dependent as the Harrier
and the Pegasus. Conceived by
French designer Michel Wibault
between 1952 and 1955, the
Pegasus turbojet was capable of
redirecting its thrust for vertical
takeoff and landing. Starting in
1957, Gordon Lewis and his
engineering team at Bristol Aero

Engines Ltd. simplied and


lightened Wibaults design,
incorporating axial compressors
and pairs of rotatable nozzles.
The BE.53 turbojet, bench-tested
in 1959, went on to become the
Rolls-Royce Pegasus that rst
raised the Hawker Siddeley P.1127
off the ground in 1960.

(A)

ILLUSTRATION: JOHN BATCHELOR; PHOTO: ROLLS-ROYCE

AIM-9
SIDEWINDER
MISSILE

(B)

March 2016

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25

ALMOST THERE Flight


directors on USS Essex watch
an AV-8B Harrier II land
during Operation Enduring
Freedom in October 1991.

THE HARRIER WAS


ORIGINALLY
INTENDED TO BE
A SUPERSONIC
FIGHTER TO TUSSLE
WITH THE
SOVIETS FOR AIR
SUPERIORITY.

26

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march 2016

Boeing) were of enormous consequence. MacDac turned the


original Harrier from an airplane that couldnt carry a cigaZM\\MIKZW[[INWW\JITTMTLI[KZQ\QK[KTIQUMLQV\W\PM)> *
0IZZQMZ11\WLIa\PM5IZQVM[XZQUIZaKTW[MIQZ[]XXWZ\IQZKZIN\
and a machine with capabilities and sophistication that make
early Harriers look like airshow toys.
Just as the English Electric Canberra became the Martin
*[W\PM)QZ.WZKM_W]TLV\JM[MMVI[J]aQVOINWZMQOV
IQZXTIVM\PM0I_SMZ;QLLMTMa0IZZQMZVMMLML\WJMKWUM
\PM5K,WVVMTT,W]OTI[)> *NWZ\PM[IUMZMI[WV_PMV\PM
5IZQVM+WZX[UILMQ\[UIRWZJ]a1V\PMMIZTa![*ZQ\Q[P
)MZW[XIKMIVL5IK,IK_MZMKWWXMZI\QVO\W]XOZILM\PM
Z[\OMVMZI\QWV0IZZQMZ)> )J]\\PM*ZQ\Q[PLZWXXMLW]\
WN\PMXZWOZIUQV!<PM;\4W]Q[KWUXIVa\WWSW^MZ\PM
XZWRMK\_PQKP]T\QUI\MTaQV^WT^MLIUIRWZZMLM[QOVWN\PMIQZframe as well as a substantially upgraded Pegasus engine.
<PMKWZMWN\PMVM_IQZXTIVM_I[\PM;\4W]Q[_QVOI
15-percent larger yet 330 pounds lighter all-composite wing
_Q\PI[]XMZKZQ\QKITIQZNWQT1\OZMI\TaQVKZMI[ML\PM)> *[
ZIVOMIVLXIaTWIL\PW]OPI\\PMKW[\WN SVW\[WNIQZ[XMML
caused by the larger and thicker wings increased drag. The
VM__QVOIT[WMVPIVKML\PM)> *[PW^MZQVOIJQTQ\a_Q\P
TMILQVOMLOMZWW\M`\MV[QWV[IQTMZWVLZWWXIVL[TW\\MLIX[
XT][\PMPMTXWNTIZOMTWVOQ\]LQVIT]VLMZ_QVO[\ZISM[IVLI
lateral air dam that help to localize and contain the column of
thrust from the downward-rotated nozzles.

LEFT: CLOVER B. CHRISTENSEN/EPA/CORBIS; RIGHT: IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM FKD 2300

he Harrier was originally intended to be a


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\][[TM_Q\P\PM;W^QM\[
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8 XZW\W\aXM XZW^ML
\PI\\PMJI[QK^MK\WZML\PZ][\
KWVKMX\ _WZSML 0I_SMZ
UW^MLQUUMLQI\MTa\WLM^MTWXQVO\PM8_PQKP_I[
UMIV\\WJMI5IKPOP\MZ
that would carry the name
0IZZQMZ,]ZQVO\PM![VW
combat aircraft could claim
legitimacy without being able
to seriously bust the Mach.
<PQ[I\\Q\]LMIT[WIMK\ML
\PM 0IZZQMZ[ KWUXIZI\Q^M
failure as an export item.
)[QLMNZWU\PM=;5+X]ZKPI[MIVLWVTa\PMWZQOQVIT
)> )[KW]TLJMKWV[QLMZML
*ZQ\Q[P IQZXTIVM[\PM
Harrier was sold only to the
;XIVQ[P1\ITQIVIVL1VLQIV
VI^QM[QV[UITTY]IV\Q\QM[)[
far as the rest of the world was
KWVKMZVMLIVa[MTNZM[XMK\QVO
OP\MZPIL\WJM[]XMZ[WVQK
and the Harrier was transonic
at best.
;_Q\bMZTIVLTWWSMLTQSMI
perfect Harrier customer. It
was a small country with few
IQZMTL[IVLQ\TIKSML\PMTIVL
\WJ]QTLIVaUWZM;WQV!
0I_SMZ;QLLMTMa[_ITTW_ML
its concerns and allowed a
;_Q[[M^IT]I\QWVXQTW\\W\M[\
aI0IZZQMZ*ILQLMI?PQTM
\ZIV[Q\QWVQVONZWU\ISMW\W
NWZ_IZLQOP\PMOZIJJML\PM
high-pressure fuel cock rather
than the nozzle control and
shut down the engine. The
Harrier dropped like a rock
while he ejected.
This despite the fact that
\PM[QUXTMVWbbTM^MK\WZQVO
TM^MZ_I[WVMWN\PM0IZZQMZ[
[MTTQVOXWQV\[".TaQVOI0IZZQMZ
QV^WT^M[WVTa\PI\WVMM`\ZI

control, and it was a major engineering achievement. The nozbTMTM^MZQ[\_QVVML_Q\P\PM\PZW\\TMI\\PMXQTW\[TMN\PIVL


where a fuel-mixture control might be in a piston engine airplane. Moving it full aft shifts the four nozzles to the braking
position, pointing 8 degrees ahead of straight down. Forward of
that is a hover position, nozzles full down. Advancing the lever
NIZ\PMZNWZ_IZLVL[ILM\MV\I\LMOZMM[LW_V_PQKP\]ZV[
I[PWZ\OZW]VLZ]VQV\WITQN\W4M^MTQOP\Q[IKPQM^MLJaN]TT
forward movement of the lever. The nozzles react rapidly and
are capable of moving 90 degrees in less than a second.
An even more remarkable engineering achievement in aid of
WXMZI\QWVIT[QUXTQKQ\aQ[\PM0IZZQMZ[[a[\MUWNZMIK\QWVKWV\ZWT
RM\[KI[]ITTaKITTMLX]MZ[?PMVI0IZZQMZ[TW_[\WIXWQV\
where its aerodynamic surfacesailerons, rudder and eleva\WZIZMVWTWVOMZMMK\Q^M\PM:+2[\ISMW^MZZWTTXQ\KPIVL
yaw control. They are small nozzles exhausting engine bleed
air. One points down at each wingtip, another downward jet is
under the nose and three are on the tail stinger, one down and
\PMW\PMZ\_WTMN\IVLZQOP\<PM:+2[KWUMQV\WXTIa_PMVM^MZ
the thrust nozzles are vectored downward at 55 degrees or more,
IVL\PMX]MZ[IZMIJ[WT]\MTa\ZIV[XIZMV\\W\PMXQTW\1NPMWZ[PM
moves the stick or rudder pedals, the Harrier responds exactly
as it would to its conventional aerodynamic controls, and a feedJIKSUMKPIVQ[UIZ\QKQITTaKZMI\M[\PM[IUM\IK\QTMXZM[[]ZM[

t only took 10 weeks


during the spring of 1982
for the British to amortize
their entire investment in
the Harrier. The air war
against Argentina over the
Falkland Islands was fought
almost entirely by 42 Royal
Air Force Harriers and Royal
Navy Sea Harriers, which
traveled the 7,800 miles to the
.ITSTIVL[ IJWIZL \PM :6[
two remaining aircraft carriers, as well as several cargo
[PQX[<PMMM\[\MIUMLNZWU
England with doubts lingering. A quick U.S. Navy study
had declared the reoccupation of the Falklands a military impossibility, and many
IZUKPIQZ M`XMZ\[ KW]TLV\
imagine how the little Harriers
could possibly compete with
)ZOMV\QVI[ []XMZ[WVQK 5Q
rages and Israeli-built Daggers. The odds were rumored
to be 200, even 400 Argentine
aircraft of all types against the
handful of Harriers.
In the end, the Argentine
air force and navy put up
approximately 120 Mirages,
Daggers, Super Etenards, A-4
Skyhawks and MB-332s
still 3-to-1 oddsand the
RN Sea Harriers downed 23
of them (24 if you count the
Mirage that tried to land at
8WZ\;\IVTMaIQZMTLJMKI][M
of combat damage but was
shot down by Argentine gunners when it pickled its bombs
in preparation for landing).
Sea Harrier air-to-air losses
were zero, though six were
shot down by groundfire or
lost to accidents. The RAF
/:0IZZQMZ[WVTaM_IQZ
to-ground sorties and lost a
further four.
Did this qualify the Harrier
as a superplane? Not really,
for the air battle was fought
by cream-of-the-crop British
pilots, since the Brits had

learned the hard way that it


required a particularly skilled
pilot to safely fly a Harrier.
They had practiced air combat maneuvering against the
=;).\PM4]N\_IMT)ZUuM
LMT)QZIVLM^MZaJWLaMT[M
who wanted a piece of them.
During one set of practice
sorties, three RN Sea Harrier
pilots with Falklands experience scored 27 wins versus 10
losses flying against nimble
Air Force F-5Es. A fighter
wing of F-15s at Bitburg,
West Germany, traveled to
England to even the score but
ended up losing seven to one.
And when the RAF tried its
own F-4 Phantoms against
the new Sea Harriersand
no love is lost between the two
servicesthey were particularly embarrassed to lose 25
to one.
The Argentines, however,
had no competent opponents
against whom they could
practice, and their last serious ACM instruction came
during the seven years that
4]N\_IMIKM)LWTN/ITTIVL
spent in Argentina as a Fuerza
)uZMI)ZOMV\QVIIL^Q[MZIN\MZ
World War II. They were
IT[WaQVOI\\PMTQUQ\WN\PMQZ
range and had no fuel to spare
for maneuvering. Nor did the
Argentines have electronics
that approached what the
Harriers carried.
;WaM[\PM0IZZQMZ[aQVO
from their own carriers with
the battle coming to them,
did splendidly at air-to-air,
J]\]T\QUI\MTaQ\_I[V\INIQZ
OP\;WUM_W]TLIT[WIZO]M
that the Harriers lost the air
war, since enough Argentine
aircraft and missiles got past
them to sink seven British
ships and to hit half a dozen
more with bombs that failed
to explode. Nor were the
Harriers able to interdict the

BAPTISM OF FIRE Harrier GR.3s and Sea Harrier FR.1s line


the carrier Hermes deck off the Falklands in May 1982.

March 2016

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27

7
5

9
4

11
10

12

13

11

14

18

15

16
17

19
21

20

22

23
24

BRITISH AEROSPACE HARRIER II GR.9 COCKPIT


Option display unit
Head-up display
Engine performance panel
Master arm panel
Left multipurpose
color display
6. Caution light panel
7. Up-front controller
8. Right multipurpose
color display
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

28

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march 2016

9. Electronic warfare panel


10. Armament control panel
11. Analog ight instruments
12. Fuel control panel
13. Analog stopwatch
14. Water injection/combat
thrust panel
15. Landing gear position
indicators
16. Control column grip with

controls for pitch/roll


trim, sensor selection,
waypoint setup, nose
wheel steering, SAAHS
(stability augmentation
and attitude hold system)
disengagement and airto-air/ground weaponry
17. Miscellaneous control
panel

18. Hydraulic pressure


gauges
19. Caution/advisory light
panel
20. Electrical panel
21. Gear handle lights
22. Nozzles lever
23. Engine management
system switch
24. Throttle quadrant

COUNTERINSURGENCY
U.S. Marine Corps AV-8Bs of
VMA-231 provide close air
support over Afghanistan
on December 6, 2012.

daily Argentine C-130 resupXTaQOP\[\W\PM.ITSTIVL[


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maneuver called
>1..^MK\WZQVOQVNWZ_IZL
NTQOP\ ) =;5+ XQTW\ 4\
+WT0IZZa*TW\ZMITQbMLQ\[
XW[[QJQTQ\QM[ _PMV TMOMVL
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\W \PM N]TTJZISQVO XW[Q\QWV
I\SVW\[0MZMXWZ\MLTa
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KTIQUMLJaUIVaMV\P][QI[\QK
I^QI\QWV_ZQ\MZ[I[IRM\^MZ[QWVWN\PM0WTTa_WWL??11
UW^QMUIVM]^MZQV_PQKP\PM
PMZW[]LLMVTaLZWX[PQ[OMIZ
IVLIX[KI][QVOPQ[JIML
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QV\W XW[Q\QWV NWZ I SQTT [PW\
NZWULMILI[\MZV
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\PI\[]KPIXTWa_W]TLTMI^M
I0IZZQMZLMILUMI\TW_IVL
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LMKMTMZI\QWV QN Q\[ NQZ[\ [PW\
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QV\PM.ITSTIVL[?IZ1VNIK\
\PMZM_I[V\I[QVOTMKTI[[QK
LWONQOP\ QV \PM .ITSTIVL["
5W[\0IZZQMZIQZ\WIQZ^QK\WZQM[_MZM[KWZMLJaXQTW\[_PW
XW]VKMLNZWUIJW^MI\PQOP
[XMMLIVLZMLIPMI\[MMSQVO;QLM_QVLMZUQ[[QTMNZWU
JMPQVLIV]V[][XMK\QVO5Q
ZIOMWZ;SaPI_S
<PM0IZZQMZ[JQOOM[\NIQTQVOQ[Q\[TW][a[INM\aZMKWZL
_PQKPQ[K]ZZMV\Ta\PM_WZ[\

LEFT: NICK GREENALL; RIGHT: U.S. MARINE CORPS

WN IVa )UMZQKIV NQOP\MZ


ITUW[\\PZMM\QUM[I[JILI[
\PM.WZ.<PMZMIZM
5IZQVM 0IZZQMZ XQTW\[ _PW
_QTT \MTT aW] \PI\ XZWXMZTa
W_V\PM0IZZQMZQ[XMZNMK\Ta
[INM)VL\PMZMIZM5IZQVM
0IZZQMZXQTW\[_PW_QTT\MTTaW]
\PMIQZXTIVM\ZQML\WSQTT\PMU
M^MZa\QUM\PMaM_Q\
?PMV \PM 5IZQVM +WZX[
Z[\JW]OP\)> )[\PMaO]ZML\PI\\ZIV[Q\QWVQVOPMTQKWX\MZXQTW\[QV\W\PMIQZXTIVM
IVLOQ^QVOIUWLQK]UWNPMTW
QV[\Z]K\QWV \W NQ`ML_QVO
0IZZQMZKIVLQLI\M[_W]TLJM
][MN]T1\_I[V\<PMZMIZM
[]ZXZQ[QVOTaNM_[QUQTIZQ\QM[
JM\_MMV NTQVO_QVO ^MZ\QKIT
NTQOP\IVL_PI\\PM0IZZQMZ
LWM[ IVL PMTQKWX\MZ XQTW\[
_MZMV\ IKK][\WUML \W \PM
[XMMLIVLPQOPKWKSXQ\_WZSTWILWNI0IZZQMZ
*a\PMTI\M![\PM0IZ
ZQMZPILM[\IJTQ[PMLIZMX]\I\QWVI[ILMUIVLQVOIQZXTIVM
I\JM[\IVLILIVOMZW][WVMI\
_WZ[\6MIZTaPITNWN\PM
 0IZZQMZ[ UIV]NIK\]ZML
L]ZQVO!_MZM\W\ITMLQV
IKKQLMV\[<PM5IZQVM[_MZM
M^MV IKKMX\QVO VM_ XQTW\[
[\ZIQOP\ W]\ I 8MV[IKWTI I[
0IZZQMZ \ZIQVMM[ IVL [QVKM
\PMZM _I[V\ aM\ I \_W[MI\
0IZZQMZ\ZIQVMZ\PI\_W]TL
ZMY]QZM I []J[\IV\QIT ZMLM[QOV\WUIQV\IQV\PM[IUMITT
QUXWZ\IV\+/I[_MTTI[UWZM

BY THE LATE 1970S,


THE HARRIER HAD A
REPUTATION AS
A DEMANDING
AIRPLANE AT BEST
AND A DANGEROUS
ONE AT WORST.
MVOQVMXW_MZ\WTQN\\PMILLML
_MQOP\\PM[MV]OOM\[_MZM
[WTWQVOWV\PMQZZ[\0IZZQMZ
NTQOP\<PM5IZQVM[M^MV\]ITTaI\TMI[\XIZ\QITTa`ML\PM
)> [[INM\aZMKWZLJa[M\ting a minimum grade stanLIZLNWZ0IZZQMZXQTW\[;\QTT
Ja\PMMIZTa[N]TTaI\PQZL
WNITT\PM)> )[IVL*[\PI\
\PM5IZQVM[JW]OP\PILJMMV
LM[\ZWaMLQVKZI[PM[SQTTQVO
5IZQVM[QVIKKQLMV\[
<WLIa \PM 5IZQVM[ IZM
LW_V\WIMM\WNIJW]\
0IZZQMZ[<PM*ZQ\Q[PLMKWUUQ[[QWVML  0IZZQMZ[ IVL

;MI0IZZQMZ[QVVW\TWVO
IN\MZXIaQVO\PMMY]Q^ITMV\WN
!UQTTQWV\W]XOZILM\PMU
IVL\PM=;5+[VIXXML]X
\PMMV\QZMTW\NWZIJW]\ 
UQTTQWVQVILMIT\PI\QVN]ZQI\ML*ZQ\Q[P\I`XIaMZ[<PM
QKWVQK IQZKZIN\ _MZM [WWV
XIZSMLQV\PMPW\)ZQbWVI[]V
WV\PM,I^Q[5WV\PIV][ML
XTIVMTW\_PMZM\PMaIZMJMQVO
KIVVQJITQbMLNWZ)> *XIZ\[
<PM4MI\PMZVMKS0IZZQMZ[
_QTT\PMU[MT^M[JMZM\QZMLQV
aMIZ[I[\PM.*KWUM[
WVTQVM\P][MVLQVOIZMUIZSIJTM I^QI\QWV IL^MV\]ZM
;XIVQ[P1\ITQIVIVL1VLQIV
0IZZQMZ[UQOP\aIJQ\TWVOMZ
IVLKW]TLJZQMa\ZQKSTMLW_V
\W\PQZL_WZTLIQZNWZKM[\PI\
_QTTY]QKSTaZMITQbM\PMaKIV\
XW[[QJTa[]XXWZ\IVLUIQV\IQV
\PM\ZQKSaJMI[\[U]KPTM[[
XQTW\\PMU
Contributing editor Stephan
Wilkinson suggests for further
reading: <PM0IZZQMZ;\WZa, by
Peter E. Davies and Anthony M.
Thornborough; *)M5K,,
0IZZQMZ, by Mike Spick;
0IZZQMZ"<PM>;<74
?IZZQWZ, by John Dibbs with
Tony Holmes; and *WMQVO*)M
0IZZQMZ, by Dennis R. Jenkins.

March 2016

AH

29

ARTIST'S CONCEPT Convairs Model 200,


envisioned as a VTOL ghter capable of
Mach 2, never left the drawing board.

30

AH

march 2016

VERT CAL DREAMS


IN THE EARLY 1970S, THE U.S. NAVY SOUGHT TO
DEVELOP VTOL AIRCRAFT THAT COULD FLY FROM
SMALL CARRIERS, BUT THE RESULTING DESIGNS
NEVER QUITE GOT OFF THE DECK BY ROBERT GUTTMAN

March 2016

AH

31

PR SHOT Despite its


futuristic look, the
XFV-12A incorporated
many components
from existing aircraft.

32

AH

march 2016

At a time of great social upheaval, he did much


to help keep good people in the U.S. Navy. He
also came up with some ideas that occasioned a
great deal of resistance within the service. Not least
among these was the notion of building smaller,
less-expensive aircraft carriers, which he dubbed
sea control ships, equipped exclusively with vertiKIT\ISMWIVLTIVLQVO><74IQZXTIVM[
By the 1970s many of the World War IIvintage
Essex-class carriers that had been modified for
IV\Q[]JUIZQVM_IZNIZM);?WZW\PMZ[XMKQITized missions were nearing the end of their operational lives. Zumwalt believed they should be
replaced by smaller, less sophisticated vessels than
the huge nuclear-powered super carriers favored
Ja\PM6I^aI^QI\QWVKWUU]VQ\a<PMILUQZIT
insisted that eight of his sea control ships could be
built for the price of one super carrier. He pointed

out that the smaller ships would be ideal for tasks


for which a giant carrier was not required, such as
ASW, escorting convoys or providing air support
to naval auxiliaries or amphibious support groups.
<PQ[_I[V\M`IK\TaIVM_QLMIIXXZW`QUI\QVO
pretty closely the role of escort carriers during
World War II. As reimagined 30 years later, howM^MZB]U_IT\[_IZ[PQX_W]TLPI^MJMMVJQOOMZ
faster, more high-tech and much more expensive.
<PMIQZOZW]XI\\IKPML\W\PM[MIKWV\ZWT[PQX
was to include light airborne multipurpose system
4)58;PMTQKWX\MZ[\_WWZ\PZMMIQZJWZVMMIZTa
_IZVQVO)-?PMTQKWX\MZ[IVL[WUM><74WZ
[PWZ\\ISMWIVLTIVLQVO;<74[\ZQSMOP\MZ[
<PM4)58;PMTQKWX\MZ_I[ITZMILaQV[MZ^QKM
IVLI[]Q\IJTM)-?PMTQKWX\MZKW]TLJMLM^MTWXMLNZWUM`Q[\QVOLM[QOV[QVNIK\\PM*ZQ\Q[PX]\
R][\[]KPIPMTQKWX\MZQV[MZ^QKML]ZQVO\PM! [

PREVIOUS PAGES: SAN DIEGO AIR & SPACE MUSEUM;


LEFT & BOTTOM RIGHT: COURTESY OF ERIC SIMONSEN; TOP RIGHT: NASA

AS CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS FROM 1970 TO 1974,


ADMIRAL ELMO ZUMWALT WAS AMONG THE MOST
CONTROVERSIAL MILITARY OFFICERS OF HIS DAY.

TUNNEL VISION A Rockwell International


engineer prepares a scale model of the XFV-12A
strike ghter for wind-tunnel testing in 1974.

What the Navy lacked was any sort of V/STOL


[\ZQSMOP\MZ
The obvious solution was the Hawker Siddeley
0IZZQMZIXZW^MVLM[QOV\PI\PILJMMVQVXZWL]K\QWV[QVKM!*]\JW\P\PM6I^aIVL\PM
American aerospace industry were opposed to the
0IZZQMZXZQUIZQTaJMKI][MQ\_I[NWZMQOV1V[\MIL
WNMU]TI\QVO_PI\_I[ZQOP\IJW]\\PMIQZXTIVM
_PQKP_I[IOZMI\LMIT\PMaVQ\XQKSMLLM\IQT[\PI\
\PMaKWV[QLMZML_ZWVO_Q\P\PMLM[QOVQVIVMWZ\
\WLQ[KZMLQ\Q\+WV[MY]MV\TaQV!\PM6I^a
ZMY]M[\MLXZWXW[IT[NWZI>;<74[\ZQSMOP\MZ
NZWU=;IMZWVI]\QKITZU[IVLZMKMQ^MLI^IZQM\aWN\MVLMZ[NZWUXZIK\QKITTaM^MZaWVMWN\PMU
All but two were rejected out of hand as unworkIJTMWZ\WWM`XMV[Q^M7N\PM\_WZMUIQVQVOKWUXIVQM[\PM6I^aVITTaI_IZLMLILM^MTWXUMV\
KWV\ZIK\\W:WKS_MTT1V\MZVI\QWVITNWZ\_WXZW\W\aXM[WNIVIQZKZIN\LM[QOVI\ML@>.)
<PM @>.) [MMU[ \W PI^M JMMV KPW[MV
solely on the expectation that it would be the least
M`XMV[Q^M\WJ]QTLJMKI][MQ\_I[KWJJTML\WOM\PMZ
W]\WNJQ\[IVLXQMKM[WNM`Q[\QVOIQZKZIN\<PMNWZ_IZLN][MTIOMIVLUIQVTIVLQVOOMIZKIUMNZWU
I,W]OTI[);SaPI_S_PQTM\PMIN\N][MTIOM
IVLMVOQVMIQZQV\ISM[_MZMNZWUI5K,WVVMTT
.8PIV\WU11<PMMVOQVM_I[IXW]VL
\PZ][\8ZI\\?PQ\VMa._PQKPPILWZQOQVITTa
JMMVLM^MTWXMLNWZ\PM/Z]UUIV.*<WUKI\
J]\[]J[MY]MV\TaKIVKMTML
6W\_Q\P[\IVLQVO\PW[MM`Q[\QVOKWUXWVMV\[
\PM@>._I[IZO]IJTa\PMUW[\XZWJTMUI\QK
of all the proposals, since it was based on totally
]VXZW^MV\MKPVWTWOa1\[UW[\[\ZQSQVONMI\]ZM[
_MZM\PMTIZOMKIVIZL_QVO[]ZNIKM[\PI\ITUW[\
Y]ITQNQMLQ\I[I\IVLMUJQXTIVMIVL\PMMVL
XTI\M^MZ\QKITKWV\ZWT[]ZNIKM[WV\PM_QVO\QX[
*MaWVL\PI\\PMIQZKZIN\NMI\]ZMLI]VQY]M\PZ][\
I]OUMV\MZ_QVO[a[\MUQV_PQKP\PMUIQV\IQT

THE XVF-12A
SEEMS TO HAVE
BEEN CHOSEN
SOLELY ON THE
EXPECTATION
THAT IT WOULD
BE THE LEAST
EXPENSIVE
TO BUILD.

XQXM_I[JTWKSMLWIVL\PMRM\M`PI][\LQ^MZ\ML
^QIIKWUXTM`[a[\MUWNL]K\[\W\PM_QVO[IVL
KIVIZL[)VMTIJWZI\M[MZQM[WNIX[WV\PM_QVO[
IVLKIVIZL[TWWSQVO[WUM\PQVOTQSMOQIV\^MVM\QIV
blinds, were supposed to convert the exhaust into
[]KQMV\TQN\\WOQ^M\PMXTIVM><74KIXIJQTQ\a
.QZ[\\M[\MLQV!\PM@.>)_I[M`XMK\ML
to be fully VTOL capable and to reach a top speed
WN5IKP=VNWZ\]VI\MTaNWZQ\[LM[QOVMZ[PW_M^MZXZM[[]ZMTW[[M[L]M\WITT\PMIVOTM[IVLJMVL[
QV\PML]K\[a[\MUXZW^ML\WJMNIZOZMI\MZ\PIV
XZMLQK\ML[W\PI\WVTaIJW]\XMZKMV\WN\PM
MVOQVM\PZ][\_I[IK\]ITTaI^IQTIJTMNWZ^MZ\QKIT
TQN\1VNIK\\PMIQZKZIN\LM^MTWXML\WWTQ\\TM^MZ\QKIT
TQN\\W[]XXWZ\Q\[W_V_MQOP\QV\PMIQZIVL\P][
VM^MZKW]TL\ISMWWZTIVL^MZ\QKITTaI\ITT<PM
airplane was tested on a tether for a few years, but
VM^MZIK\]ITTaM_)[IZM[]T\WNKW[\W^MZZ]V[IVL
a lack of any foreseeable positive results, plans for
a second prototype were canceled and the project
_I[IJIVLWVMLQV! 
-^MVQN\PM@.>)PILW_V[]KKM[[N]TTaQ\
remains doubtful that it ever could have become
IXZIK\QKIT[\ZQSMOP\MZ<PM[a[\MUWNL]K\[IVL
IX[XZMKT]LMLUW]V\QVOPIZLXWQV\[]VLMZ\PM
_QVO[WZKIVIZL[)\\IKPUMV\XWQV\[NWZIZUIment, reconnaissance packs or external fuel tanks
_W]TLWVTaPI^MJMMVI^IQTIJTMWV\PMN][ MTIOM
TQUQ\QVO\PMIQZKZIN\[UQTQ\IZa]\QTQ\a
TETHERED TRYOUT The XFV-12A underwent
years of bench-testing but never actually ew.

March 2016

AH

33

CLEAR FOR ACTION


Resembling an F-106
tted with canards,
the sleek Convair 200
looked the part of a
Mach 2 ghter.

34

AH

march 2016

that the conventional plane would have been able


\WKIZZaXMZKMV\UWZM_MQOP\I[N]MTIZUIUMV\
or electronics.
By 1980, the Navy had abandoned the idea of
the sea control ship, due largely to the failure of
\PM><74OP\MZLM^MTWXUMV\XZWOZIUI[_MTTI[
pressure from its aviation community to concentrate on building more supercarriers. Meanwhile,
however, Zumwalts brainchild was adopted elsewhere in the world. Italys Giuseppe Garibaldi follows the sea control ship formula, as do Spains
Principe de Asturias and Juan Carlos I. Spain has
even built similar vessels for export: HTMS Chakri
Naruebet for Thailand, and HMAS Canberra and
Adelaide for Australia.
The Royal Navys Illustrious-class throughdeck cruiser proved very successful during the
1982 Falklands War. In addition, the RNs rapid
and successful conversion of the container ship
Atlantic Conveyor to accommodate Harriers and
helicopters demonstrated that the WWII concept
of modifying a merchant vessel into a viable escort
carrier was still practicable. Nevertheless, the
modern brown shoe U.S. Navy, still infatuated
with its enormous supercarriers and showing little
interest in convoy protection, has learned nothing
from the success of foreign versions of the sea control ship or the Atlantic Conveyor conversion.
)VMY]ITTa[QOVQKIV\W]\KWUMWN\PM.ITSTIVL[
War was that the VTOL Sea Harrier put up an
MMK\Q^MIQZLMNMV[MIOIQV[\)ZOMV\QVM;SaPI_S[
and Mirages. While the U.S. Navy continued to
fault the Harriercomplaining that it was too
[TW_\WW[PWZ\ZIVOMLIVL\WWLQK]T\\Wa
Britain, Spain, Italy, India and Thailand seemed
to experience no problems operating it from their
smaller carriers. And after a poor introduction to
the McDonnell Douglasbuilt AV-8A Harrier,

The runner-up in the VTOL competition, Convairs Model 200, was never built because it was
entirely new from the ground up, and therefore
would have been much more expensive than the
XFV-12A. It does, however, make an interesting
case study of what was wrong with U.S. VTOL
thinking during the 1970s. Resembling an F-106
Delta Dart with canards, the Convair 200 looked GO! Convair also designed a version of the 200
M^MZaJQ\TQSMI5IKPRM\OP\MZ.WZ^MZ\QKITTQN\Q\ without lift engines for conventional carrier ops.
relied upon two additional jet engines mounted
vertically inside the fuselage, between the cockpit
and the wings, a propulsion arrangement similar
to that used in the Soviet Unions operational but
OZW[[TaQVMKQMV\AISW^TM^AIS.WZOMZ)[
_Q\P\PMAIS!XMZKMV\WN\PM+WV^IQZ[
QOP\ZMOQUM_W]TLJM[XMV\T]OOQVOIZW]VL\PM
dead weight of two inoperative jet engines. Additionally, those two lift engines occupied a substantial amount of internal space that could otherwise
have be used for fuel, armament or electronics.
It is interesting to note that Convair designed
two separate versions of the 200 for the Navyone
I[I><74OP\MZ_Q\P\PMM`\ZITQN\MVOQVM[IVL
IVW\PMZKWVO]ZMLI[IKIZZQMZJI[MLOP\MZ_Q\P
a tail hook and without the extra lift engines. The
VTOL versions gross weight was to have been
XW]VL[_PQTM\PMKWV^MV\QWVIT^MZ[QWV
_W]TLPI^M_MQOPML!XW]VL[QVLQKI\QVO

ILLUSTRATIONS: SAN DIEGO AIR & SPACE MUSEUM; ABOVE: 2013 LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP.

THE FUTURE IS NOW


Major Richard Rusnok
makes the rst vertical
landing of a production
F-35B on March 31, 2013.

the U.S. Marine Corps adopted the improved and


enlarged AV-8B Harrier II, with 50 percent more
fuel for greater range and loiter time. It has served
with considerable success in numerous war zones,
from Operation Desert Shield in 1990 to current
KWVQK\[QV)NOPIVQ[\IVIVL1ZIY
Despite the failure of the U.S. aerospace industry to develop a suitable VTOL strike fighter
during the 1970s, American engineers have per[Q[\ML<PMQZMWZ\[PI^MVITTaJMMVZM_IZLML
with the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II, the
STOVL version of the Joint Strike Fighter. The
Marines declared initial operational capability for
the F-35B in July 2015, when 10 aircraft in Marine
.QOP\MZ)\\IKS;Y]ILZWV>5.)I\\IQVML
\PMZMY]Q[Q\MXMZNWZUIVKMMV^MTWXMIVL_MIXWV[
clearances. The RAF and RN plan to operate 138
.*[IVL\PMN\POMVMZI\QWVOP\MZ_QTTIT[W
replace the Italian navys ship-based Sea Harriers.
While it represents state-of-the-art aeronautical technology, the F-35B still shares some of the
LZI_JIKS[NW]VLWV\PM><74OP\MZXZWXW[IT[
of the 1970s. Although the F-35B does not have
additional lift jets, as did the Convair 200, it does
include a large engine-driven lift fan that takes up
just about the same proportion of internal space.
Its operational weight is 10,000 pounds less than
that of the corresponding conventional version of

THE VTOL SEA


HARRIER PUT UP
AN EFFECTIVE
AIR DEFENSE
AGAINST
ARGENTINE
SKYHAWKS AND
MIRAGES.

the Lightning II, which means it will carry that


much less military load.
Furthermore, while the F-35B is capable of a
maximum speed of Mach 1.6much faster than
the Harrierit is also much heavier. Although
only about six feet longer, the F-35B weighs in at a
hefty 32,300 pounds empty, 132 percent heavier
than the Sea Harrier, and a whopping 30 tons
loaded. Weight considerations aside, the Royal
6I^aPI[ZMKMV\TaJMMVJMMVO]X\PMQOP\LMKS[
of its carriers to withstand the F-35Bs jet blast,
which has proved to be hotter and stronger than
expected during vertical landings.
Despite its many detractors, the F-35B is scheduled to soon enter service with several air arms
around the world. Time will tell whether it will
compare favorably to the Harrier, the only other
?M[\MZVOP\MZ\WM^MZ[]KKM[[N]TTaOW^MZ\QKIT
For further reading, Robert Guttman recommends:
Convair Advanced Designs II (reviewed on P. 57),
by Robert E. Bradley; and The Worlds Worst
Aircraft, by Jim Winchester.

March 2016

AH

35