de Havilland Hornet FR Mk4 / PR Mk22

DH Hornet FR4

The De Havilland Hornet was the fastest piston-engined aircraft to ever serve in the RAF and was designed towards the end of the war for use against Japan. Essentially, the aircraft was a scaled-down Mosquito, powered by two Merlin 130/131 engines and carried four 20mm cannon. The war ended before the Hornet entered service but the aircraft eventually saw action during Operation Firedog - the communist insurrection in Malaya in the early 1950's. In this operation the Hornet F Mk3 was equipped with increased fuel capacity and could carry either two 1000lbs bombs or eight 60lb rockets under the wings.

The final Hornet variant was the FR Mk4 which was used exclusively in the far east for fighter reconnaissance duties by 33, 45 and 80 Squadrons. The aircraft was essentially a Mk3 with a single F.52 camera replacing 21 gallons of fuel. A total of 23 aircraft were built, 12 new aircraft and 11 rebuilt F3's.

DH Hornet PR22

In service with the Royal Navy, the PR Mk22 was similar to the FR Mk4, except it was equipped with two F.52 cameras for day photography or a K.19B camera for night photography. The type saw service with 801, 806 and 1833 Squadrons.

Sadly, not a single example of the RAF's or RN's fastest piston -engined aircraft survived to be preserved in a museum - a really great shame.