Using wood construction
technology from the successful Mosquito, de Havilland developed the Hornet as a
long-range escort fighter for the Pacific Theatre. Like many late war aircraft
designs, the Hornet just missed combat with the remnants of Japanese forces. It
did continue to serve until 1956 as the jet era was by then in full swing. Chief
Company Test Pilot, Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown, ranked the Hornet as
#1 of all the hundreds of aircraft he flew. The 2,070 HP Rolls Royce, "slimline"
Merlin 130/131 engines gave the Hornet a top speed of 475 mph with a range of
1,480 miles and a 5,000 fpm climb rate. The Hornet was armed with 4- 20mm
Hispano Mk V cannons with 190 rpg and could carry 2- 1,000 lb. bombs or 8- 60
lb. RP-3 rockets. The similar Sea Hornet was developed for the Fleet Air Arm.
383 Hornets of all variants were built. The model represents a Hornet F.3 flown
by 64 Squadron in 1947. Unfortunately, there are no flying survivors, but it is
reported a Sea Hornet is being restored to flying condition in New Zealand.
I am a huge fan of the Grumman F8F Bearcat and F7F Tigercat. But I must admit, the Hornet fits right in with similar performance.
It would be interesting to see how all three would have performed against Axis aircraft. Thanks for the Hornet Harry!
H. Davis Gandees
Photos and text © by H. Davis Gandees