Timeless Designs

Timeless designs is our new monthly feature celebrating great designs of the past.

November 2000 December 2000 January 2001  February 2001

DeHavilland Hornet

This elegant aircraft was the fastest propeller driven fighter in RAF service. The Hornet is certainly one of the fastest wooden aircraft ever produced. Hornets were also the last piston engine fighter flown by the RAF.

The Hornet had many unique construction features. The slim fuselage was wooden monocoque construction. The one-piece cantilever wing had wood upper surfaces and metal lower surfaces. Main spars were a composite bonded structure with ribs made of light alloy and wood. The wing leading edge, tail unit, cowlings, ect. were all metal. The result was a light, strong, and smooth structure which, if cared for, would give many years of good service.

Engines were specially developed low frontal area Rolls-Royce Merlins. These 12 cylinder vee liquid cooled engines developed 2,030 hp each at 3000 rpm at 1,250 ft. This gave the Hornet at top speed of 485 mph and a rate of climb of 4, 500 ft/min. Range with external drop tanks was 2,500 miles.

The Hornet prototype first flew on July 28 1944. Hornets served with the RAF from 1946 to 1956. No examples are known to exist today.

DeHavilland Hornet Prototype

Note the four 20mm cannon armament and excellent view for the pilot

Late Production Hornet