1937 Hawker Demon

This exhibit

Now owned by Demon Displays Limited, Hawker Demon K8203 was the twenty-third aircraft delivered of a third production batch of 37, built by Boulton-Paul to Specification 8/34 as amended; it was taken on charge by the RAF on 27 October 1937 and initially assigned to No 64 Squadron at RAF Church Fenton, whose livery now adorns the aircraft. It was later transferred to No 9 Maintenance Unit at RAF Cosford and then to No 9 Air Observer’s School (later renamed No 9 Bombing & Gunnery School) at RAF Penrhos. K8203 was struck off charge on 28 September 1940, but was pensioned off as a ground training aid at No 1 Service Flying Training School at RAF Netheravon; its history then becomes rather tenuous, but we understand that the aircraft was finally disposed of to No 413 (Aldershot) Squadron of the Air Training Corps, probably during 1943. The rear fuselage ended up in the RAF Museum’s storage at RAF Cardington.

The present owner acquired that Demon fuselage in July 1991 from AeroVintage Limited, together with a fin, rudder and tailplane, elevators, a centre-section and some parts of the wings and undercarriage; some other components were rescued from a tip in Ireland. The restoration work was entrusted to SkySport Engineering Limited, with the main criterion being that the finished aircraft should be historically accurate in every way. A great deal of time, especially during the early years, was spent in extensive research and development of ways to manufacture specialist components, some of it being carried out by sub-contractors; the Kestrel V engine was acquired in Australia. A detailed account of the 19-year restoration project can be seen in the December 2009 edition of Aeroplane Monthly.

K8203’s first flight after being grounded for almost 70 years took place out of SkySport’s base near Sandy, Bedfordshire, on 23 June 2009. Test flying was completed at RAF Henlow; the Civil Aviation Authority issued the Permit to Fly at the end of the following month and the restored aircraft made its airshow debut a few days later on 2 August at the Shuttleworth Collection’s Old Warden Airfield, where the Demon is currently hangared. It continues to fly at Old Warden and other displays in the hands of pilot Stuart Goldspink, making a magnificent tribute to the immaculate engineering work carried out by the SkySport team.

The reappearance of a Hawker Demon in the skies has been greeted by two major awards. The ConRod Trophy is awarded annually by the Historic Aircraft Association in recognition of an ‘outstanding contribution to the preservation and safe operation of historic aircraft’: on 21 March the 2010 ConRod Trophy was awarded to Tim Moore of SkySport Engineering for the company’s restoration and maintenance of Hawker Demon K8203. In September the aircraft won the 2010 Freddie March ‘Spirit of Aviation’ Trophy at the annual concours d’elegance at Goodwood, to which ‘about 25 of the world’s finest, most elegant, original and rarely-seen aircraft from the evocative pioneering days of aviation’, all in flying condition, are invited; the competition is judged primarily on the aircraft’s condition, originality and service history.

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