Supermarine Swift FR Mk5

Swift FR Mk5

The Supermarine Swift was developed as a potential fall-back in the event of problems with the Hawker Hunter. Via the Supermarine 510 and 535 prototypes the Swift finally evolved and 100 were ordered in 1950 followed by another 100 from Short and Harland in 1952. However, severe performance failings in the fighter variants led to the type being rapidly replaced by the Hunter and the Swift was by then considered an abysmal failure.

In an attempt to salvage something from the Swift programme, a photo reconnaissance version was developed and the first aircraft of this new version XD903 flew on 25 May 55. The FR Mk 5 entered service with the RAF in Feb 1956 eventually equipping 2 and 79 Squadrons based at Geilenkirchen and Gutersloh respectively. Although still rather short on range, the aircraft featured a longer nose than the fighter variant and this housed three F.95 cameras together with two Aden cannons.

Swift FR Mk5

The Swift FR Mk5 gave good service and, despite it's limitations was liked by many. Operating predominently in the punishing low-level regime proved the resiliance of the strong airframe and at last the Swift had found it's true role. However, in 1961 after only 5 years front line service it was replaced by the by the Hawker Hunter FR Mk10, generally considered to be one of the best fighter reconnaissance aircraft of all time.