Hawker Aircraft Ltd's Sydney Camm designed a number of biplane fighters and bombers for the Royal Air Force in the 1920s and 1930s. One of these fighters, the Hawker Fury, was considered by many to be one of the most elegant biplanes ever built. Initially known as the Hornet, it was based on the earlier Hawker Hart (another of Sydney Camm's designs) and developed as a private venture by Hawkers. The new fighter's potential was soon recognised and in 1929, the first prototype was purchased by the British Air Ministry and promptly renamed it the Fury. The first production model, the Fury I, made its maiden flight on March 25, 1931. With power provided by a supercharged 525 hp Rolls Royce Kestrel IIS liquid cooled engine, it had extremely clean lines compared to many contemporary, radial engine powered biplanes and became the first RAF fighter to exceed 200 mph in level flight. It was soon followed into service by the 640 hp Rolls Royce Kestrel VI powered Fury II. Described by those who flew it as an absolute delight, it had light, well balanced controls and instant throttle response over a wide power band. The Fury soon became one of the most popular fighters in the RAF, however it was soon relegated to the role of an advanced trainer following the arrival of the Hawker Hurricane into widespread service.
In 1961, almost a third of a century after the Fury prototype appeared on the scene, John Isaacs of Southampton, England, began work on a seven-tenths scale replica of the Aircraft. Using the design of a Currie Wot home built biplane as a starting point, he modified it to resemble the Hawker Fury, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. Of all wood construction covered with fabric and plywood and powered by a 65 hp Walter Mikron III engine, the first Isaacs Fury flew from Thruxton airfield, Hampshire, England in August 1963. Attention was paid to recapturing the handling characteristics of the original Fury so the aircraft was fully stressed for aerobatics. However, it was soon found that the Mikron engine was somewhat underpowered so in 1967 the design was strengthened to take a 125 hp Lycoming O-290 engine, becoming the Isaacs Fury II in the process.
Described as being "not too hard to fly", it was definitely a hands-on aircraft having no trim controls and a high degree of manoeuvrability. By the time the Fury II flew, interest was beginning to be shown in the aircraft so plans were made available through the Popular Flying Association, a British sport and recreational flying and amateur aircraft construction organisation. By the end of the 1970s, a sizeable number of Furies had emerged from workshops, garages and even backyard sheds in many different countries around the world. For many people, it not only offered an affordable way to relive the "golden era" of flying but also, in building it themselves, became a labour of love. The first Isaacs Fury II to be built in New Zealand (ZK-DMN, K-1790) flew in March 1975 and, due to its aerobatic qualities, went on to become the first home built aircraft in the country to be spin tested. At the time of writing, there are three Isaacs Fury IIs on the New Zealand register and, unlike the majority of the Lycoming O-290 powered foreign models, they are fitted with a range of different engines including the100 hp Continental 0-200 and the 115 hp Lycoming O-235.
Text © 2002 Stuart Russell.
Power Plant: One 85.7kW (115hp) Lycoming O-235
Wingspan: 6.4m (21ft)
Length: 5.87m (19ft 3in)
Max T-O weight: 450kg (1,000lb)
Max speed: 185km/h (115mph)
Range: 160.9km (100miles)