RAF Hawker Harts and Demons
The Hart story is a complex one with a simple beginning. The Hawker company developed a elegant modern looking biplane with the performance to seriously challenge the existing fighters the RAF was using. This aircraft expanded into a whole family of different variants but this article will focus on two of them - the original Hart and the Demon fighter.
The Hart first entered service with the RAFs No. 33 Squadron in a pre-production series with serial numbers in the J99-- series. These aircraft started out without the bomb aimer's window on the lower right fuselage but otherwise were similar to all other Harts. The first production (K14-- series) also omitted this window which was added later by the simple expedient of replacing the fabric panel.
All Harts, Hart Fighters and Demons built for the RAF had single fuel tank upper wings. The double fuel tank upper wing came in with the Hinds (a later development of the Hart) and was fitted to Australian Demons but no photographs show it being fitted to the home squadron aircraft. The Hart Fighter was a small series of 6 aircraft to trial the concept. It introduced the cut down rear gunners ring intended to make it easier for the gunner to aim at the higher speeds the Hart operated. Hart Fighters were also fitted with a single forward firing machine gun. Unlike the Demons they never carried two forward firing guns. They also lost the prominent air intakes on the upper cowling of the Harts and introduced the extended exhaust pipes that characterized the Demon and made it easy to differentiate from the Hart.
Demons were an obsolete concept and really a waste of money. The cut down rear gunners position was never really satisfactory so a hydraulically operated turret was developed to shield the gunner. This didn't help the performance of the aircraft at all pushing the CoG to its limits. Despite that they equipped several squadrons.
No. 33 was the first Squadron to use the Hart and No. 23 the first Squadron to use the Demon. The Harts were allocated to bomber squadrons which carried their Squadron numbers in large figures (in flight colours) on the rear fuselage. Variations on this theme were No. 33 themselves which used smaller figures (still in flight colours) above the fuselage roundel and No. 15 which used Roman numerals. Nos 600 and 601 started out as auxiliary air force bomber squadrons before converting to fighter squadrons. As there was a delay in allocating Demons their Harts carried fighter style markings. All auxiliary fighter squadrons were allocated triangular markings in two colours.
The Demons of course were fighters and received the fighter squadron colours as a matter of course though after the Munich crisis any surviving Demons were camouflaged. Australian Demons didn't carry specific squadron colours but were polished metal and silver dope.
Modelling - points to note
Aircraft were kept clean and so weathering was minimal. There would be the occasional plume from the exhausts
There are lots of Hart and Demon models available. In 1/72 the best Hart is the Amodel version which whilst short run and needing effort includes the single fuel tank mainplane and a comprehensive set of stores. The new AMG model looks good but appears to have the two tank upper mainplane (something it shares with their Demon) and this is a difficult correction. Ironically the AZ Hind had a single tank upper mainplane so those with a spare Hind may be able to switch the two. For Hart Fighters the unobtainable AZ Models version was the right one correctly omitting the right hand forward firing gun. In 1/48 we have the AMG Hart and Demon but both suffer from the upper mainplane issue which is a pity as both are superbly detailed. The AMG Demon though can be built as an Australian Demon but one would need to source decals. For 1/32 Silver Wings did both the Hart and Demon. The Hart is sold out but the Demon is still available and both are accurate and superbly detailed. Aftermarket decals rely (in 1/72) on the old Modeldecal MD108 Hart variants sheet. This was comprehensive, accurate and well researched covering many different squadrons and variants which is good as there's almost nothing else. The only issue was that some of the Hart markings were actually available on the Interwar fighters sheet from the same company. Unfortunately there is nothing for 1/48 or 1/32 though Pheon Decals did have a Demon sheet. Aftermarket is extensive particularly in 1/72 with Kora Models leading the way with all sorts of different accessories. Vickers Potts oil coolers can be obtained from the Steelworks.de set which whilst mind numbingly fiddly can be mastered and is difficult to beat. I haven't mentioned the Airfix Hart or Demon as the latter kits far surpass either.