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Grumman Tiger FGA.1 - No.1 Squadron, Royal Air Force, 1966

Despite the infamous 1957 White Paper (which dictated that the RAF would not need any manned combat aircraft whose role could be covered by missiles) by early 1960 the RAF had two main aircraft projects under development; OR339 for an advanced tactical strike and reconnaissance aircraft and OR356 for a common replacement for the RAF's Hawker Hunter fighter-bombers and the Royal Navy's Sea Vixen carrier-based fighters. Ideally, both projects required some consolidation of the UK aircraft industry with government organised mergers and soon English Electric, Vickers-Armstrong, Bristol and Hunting Aviation merged together to form the British Aircraft Corporation in 1960 to develop the TSR.2 to OR339.

Hawker Siddeley Aviation had already acquired Folland Aircraft in 1959 and followed this by acquiring de Havilland Aircraft Company and Blackburn Aircraft in 1960.  In 1961, they submitted their advanced P.1150 VTOL strike fighter to NATO Basic Military Requirement 3 (NBMR-3) calling for a supersonic V/STOL strike fighter with a combat radius of 460 kms and a dash speed of Mach 1.5 with a 910kg payload. However, changes made to the NBMR-3 requirement led to the P.1150 being considered to be undersized and therefore unsatisfactory leading to a redesign. A new and larger aircraft design, re-designated as the P.1154, soon emerged and was submitted by Hawker Siddeley Aviation to the Ministry of Aviation for both NATO NBMR-3 and to the UK's OR356. In May 1962, the P.1154 emerged as the 'technical winner' in the NBMR-3 competition but this did not lead to orders being placed as the French government withdrew from participation once the Dassault Mirage IIIV design had lost. NATO's NBMR-3 selection went unheeded by it's member nations and the whole project was terminated.

The loss of a potentially large NATO order immediately destabilized the P.1154 project and played right into the hands of the reluctant Admiralty who decided to buy the American F-4 Phantom aircraft as their Sea Vixen replacement, thus throwing the entire cost of development and production onto the RAF. In a statement to the House of Commons the Prime Minister explained, " I have to tell the House that this is not a practicable proposition. The problem here is that on these present estimated requirements, and on the latest realistic estimate of the remaining life of the Hunter aircraft, the P.1154 will not be in service in time to serve as a Hunter replacement.” The axe finally fell on the P.1154 on September 3rd, 1962.

Meanwhile, having failed to secure any US Navy contracts for their F11F-1F 'Super Tiger', Grumman had aggressively marketed the Super Tiger to foreign customers eventually gaining important export orders to Japan and Canada that had kept the Bethpage production line open. Having previously offered the West German Government a version of the F-11F-1F powered by the Rolls-Royce Avon 301R, rated at 12,500 lbs dry thrust and 16,360 lbs thrust with reheat, Grumman quickly dusted off the design and offered it to the UK Government as a Hawker Hunter replacement. With the RAF so focused on holding on to TSR.2 at all costs they were keen to adopt this off the shelf proposal that was far cheaper than any paper project so the Ministry of Aviation quickly created OR366 to cover the adoption of the Super Tiger. A production order for 200 Tiger FGA.1's was placed with Grumman on January 1963 with the first examples entering service in April 1964 with No.1 Squadron based at RAF Wittering.

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Skin Credit: Ravenclaw007

 

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Looks pretty cool, I like the background story as well. Good job!

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