Newsletter 15
? Winter 2006
Updated on 9Dec2006
Aviation Heritage Project
Dunsfold Wings & Wheels
Female Angle
Flight Test from a Desk
Harrier News
Hawk News
Graduate Apprentices
Hawker People News
Hugh Merewether
  1924 - 2006, Test Pilot
  Flight Development
  Faster, Higher, Further
  Spinning With Hugh
JSF Progress
Sea Furies at Reno
Sea Harrier ZA195
Sea Hawk Recovered
Sir Sydney & Sir George
Sopwith & Bradshaw
Summer's Day at Dunsfold
Vulcan to the Skies
Published by the Hawker Association
for the Members.
Contents © Hawker Association

Trevor Jordan, the Kingston Project Office performance evaluation wizard, recounts some little or unknown Hugh Merewether 'records'...

I believe that Hugh Merewether flew the Hunter faster, higher and further than anyone else.

I was personally involved in establishing the first of these milestones. Hugh recounted how, during tailplane load tests at high Mach number in a vertical dive, he had reached an Indicated Mach Number of 1.17 when, to his great surprise, the reading suddenly increased to 1.35 IMN, clearly without any real increase in speed. Consideration of the supersonic flow regime, supported by Schlieren photographs from wind tunnel tests, showed that in these conditions a shock wave spreads laterally from the wing root intake. It passes over the static ports of the port wing tip pressure head causing the static pressure to change from higher-than to lower-than atmospheric pressure, hence the observed jump in IMN. This occurs at 1.25 True Mach Number - FASTER.

Faster, Higher, Further

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When I was talking to Alan Gettings, the Dunsfold Flight Development Engineer covering performance measurement aspects, about Hugh and the above, he recalled reading an Automatic Observer Panel (AOP) film taken during a climb-cruise (a flying technique employed to obtain maximum aircraft range), probably during flight tests connected with increasing the range of the Hunter. He had noted that Hugh had reached an altitude of 52,000 ft - HIGHER

Finally, when doing some reading in connection with these observations, I found, in Frank Mason's book 'Hawker Hunter - Biography of a Thoroughbred' (Patrick Stephens, 1985), an account of  non-stop return Hunter flights from Dunsfold to Turin, with 2x230 gallon drop tanks, and Dunsfold to Elba with 2x230 and 2x100 gallon drop tanks.

These were followed on 2nd October 1957 by Hugh's proving flight in the latter configuration to El Adm, Libya, stated to be 1,500 nautical miles. However, accurate calculations show the distance to be 1,570 nm. In his 'History of the RAF' Chaz Bower gives the Hunter's range as 1,840 miles (1,600 nm) so the El Adm flight was near the absolute maximum - FURTHER.

Editor's Note. Trevor's article prompted me to do some reading. Roy Braybrook in his splendid book 'Hunter' (Osprey, 1987) states, with reference to Hugh's El Adm flight in XF374: "The straight-line distance is 1,588 nm but Merewether was forced to fly a dog-leg course of 1,609 nm. The flight took 3 hr 24 min and he landed with 450 lb (fuel) remaining. It had been a fairly marginal exercise..." !

MJ Hardy's 'Hawker Hunter Super Profile' (Foulis, 1985) gives the range of the Hunter F.6 as 1,854 miles (1,612 nm) with two 230 Imp gal and two 100 Imp gal drop tanks.

So, whichever way you look at it, Hugh got as far as you can get.