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A French spark of ingenuity and American funding was the foundation of one of the most iconic of British aircraft - the Hawker Harrier. Maybe because the Harrier has been a triumph of the British ‘make do and mend’ spirit, it has taken it’s place alongside aeroplanes such as the Spitfire and Concorde as a symbol of British engineering.

The Harrier’s convoluted history started with a French designer presented his idea to a NATO general, who passed it onto the Bristol Engine Company - their orpheus was the most powerful jet engine at the time. Bristol collaborated with Hawker to get an airframe for the engine, and with NATO (US) funding, they got the P1127 Kestrel flying in two years. The UK's military aviation focus during the cold war was on strategic bombers and high speed interceptors. Funds for a multi-role close air support aircraft were therefore limited, and the Harrier being starved of funds was an early sign for things to come.

Despite lackluster UK support, the Hawker designers have evolved the Harrier design to new design requests from the British Government. Many designs to fulfill a full range of roles have been developed, however the sad fact is that it has been the USA, not the UK who have forced the pace - funded the original P1127 testbed through to the evolution to the Harrier II.

So here follows the story of the Harrier. Between 1957 and the mid 80s closure of BAE’s Kingston design office, numerous designs and variations were penned. The P1154 and P1205 got as far as static models, the P1216 wasn’t far behind but was chopped at wind tunnel testing.