|CARRIER-BORNE FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Supermarine|
Originally conceived in 1944 as a land based jet fighter for the RAF, the Supermarine Type 392's design combined the new laminar flow wing which was being developed for the unsuccessful Spiteful piston engined fighter (intended as a successor to the Spitfire) with a new fuselage and tail plus the Rolls-Royce RB.41 (later Nene) centrifugal flow turbojet.
The undercarriage was also taken from the Spiteful, resulting in a tailwheel configuration - unusual for a jet aircraft. The wing retained the Spiteful's four cannon armament but the radiators for its Griffon piston engine were naturally removed and replaced by fuel tanks.
Three prototypes were ordered in August 1944 but development was slower than anticipated due to delays in laminar flow wing research, with low speed handling problems proving difficult to solve. As the RAF had begun to lose interest in the aircraft, it was decided that the last two prototypes would be navalised.
The first prototype flew on 27 July 1946 and the second on 17 June 1947 (the name "Attacker" applied on the same day), this differing in having longer stroke undercarriage, smaller fin, enlarged tailplane, increased fuel capacity, arrester hook and an ejection seat. Folding wings would not appear until the production versions were built. By then, the RAF was no longer a prospective customer and the aircraft was ordered only tor the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.
The first production Attacker F.1 flew on 5 May 1950 and operational service began in August 1951 with No 800 Squadron FAA. Subsequent versions were the FB.1 fighter-bomber with provision for underwing ordnance and the FB.2 which differed mainly in its Nene Mk.102 engine with a throttle acceleration control unit to prevent flameout if the throttle was opened quickly, such as when performing a go-around. The Attacker served with only two FAA front line squadrons and had been relegated to Volunteer Reserve units by 1954 and retired two years later.
The only export was to the Pakistan Air Force, which received 36 'denavalised' aircraft between 1951 and 1953 for operation from land. These lacked the folding wings and arrester gear of the Royal Navy's aircraft but were otherwise similar to the Attacker F.1.