By Zac Yates

Possibly the last unrestored ex-Iraqi Air Force Hawker Fury fighter bomber is now for sale, with almost everything needed to return it to flight included, after more than fifty years on the ground.

The Hawker Fury was developed from the Tempest of World War II fame as a fighter for Britain’s Royal Air Force, but as the conflict drew to a close, the RAF no longer needed another piston-powered fighter. The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA), however, saw potential in the type to fly and fight from their aircraft carriers. The resulting Sea Fury entered service with the FAA in 1947 and served with distinction during the Korean War as a fighter bomber, with some claiming air-to-air victories over MiG-15 jets.

The cockpit is largely complete, missing only a few instruments. The sliding canopy was not fitted in this photo but is part of the project package. [Photo by Courtesy Aircraft]
The cockpit is largely complete, missing only a few instruments. The sliding canopy was not fitted in this photo but is part of the project package. [Photo by Courtesy Aircraft]

As part of Hawker’s intense export drive of the type in the 1950s, several Sea Furies were bought back by the company upon retirement from the FAA and de-navalised for customers which didn’t have aircraft carriers, such as Iraq. One of these airframes, built as an FB.10 with FAA serial WM484, flew again after modification to become a so-called Baghdad Fury in October 1952 and was taken on charge with the Iraqi Air Force as 305. Records of the type in Iraqi service are thin on the ground but earlier examples of the type are known to have been used for armed reconnaissance in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, while 305’s sisters saw combat during Kurdish uprisings in the 1960s. The Hawkers were ultimately replaced by Sukhoi Su-7 “Fitter” jets and retired by the end of the decade.

In 1979, 29 Baghdad Furies were imported to the United States by Ed Jurist and David Tallichet. 305 was one of those rescued and unlike her sisters, which have since gone on to be restored warbirds or converted to championship-winning air racers, has remained largely untouched since its arrival in America. After gaining the US civil registration N59SF and passing through a handful of owners, it became part of Dennis Sanders’ fleet of Furies at Eagle’s Nest near Ione in California, and Courtesy Aircraft Sales’ Mark Clark says it now presents a unique opportunity for a prospective buyer.

“The pretty cool thing about it is the only thing that’s happened is the paint has been stripped off. It has very straight sheet metal considering the amount of time they were moved around the world and in the States,” Clark told Vintage Aviation News.

Thanks to the efforts of current owner Dennis Sanders the project is remarkably complete, and despite several moves around the United States is undamaged. [Photo by Courtesy Aircraft]
Thanks to the efforts of current owner Dennis Sanders the project is remarkably complete, and despite several moves around the United States is undamaged. [Photo by Courtesy Aircraft]

“Dennis has gathered up lots and lots of parts so it’s a really complete project. It’s a big project but probably the last original Baghdad project out there.”

The only parts missing from the project are the wing fold and tailhook mechanisms– should the new owner wish to return it to Sea Fury status– and some cockpit instruments, the upper and lower accessory cowls, and the propeller blades.

“Props are pretty readily available and reasonably priced compared to a Mustang,” Clark said.

The aircraft currently has its original Bristol Centaurus sleeve-valve radial fitted, but could be converted to a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 or Wright R-3350 at the buyer’s discretion, with Anderson Aeromotive of Grangeville, Idaho offering a fly-away conversion for the latter through Courtesy Aircraft.

The original Bristol Centaurus engine is still fitted to N59SF, although conversion to R-2800 or R-3350 power is an option. [Photo by Courtesy Aircraft]
The original Bristol Centaurus engine is still fitted to N59SF, although conversion to R-2800 or R-3350 power is an option. [Photo by Courtesy Aircraft]

For more information on this exciting project and to arrange a viewing visit https://courtesyaircraft.com/