Contest: name the British Aerospace P.1214-3 jet fighter

The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes will feature some superb profile illustrations. The first we commissioned was the BAe 1214-3, an unrealised Harrier replacement I’ve been in love with since I learnt about it in Bill Gunston’s ‘Warplanes of the Future’ in the 1980s. Now we’re offering you the chance to name* the 1214-3.

Here’s a couple of teasers from our forthcoming book:

The Pegasus engine with its steerable thrust blesses the Harrier with the ability to take-off and land vertically — and even fly backwards. Unfortunately you can’t put conventional afterburners on a Pegasus engine; there are several reasons for this – the hot and cold air is separated, the inlets do not slow the airflow sufficiently for serious supersonic flight, and the jet-pipes would be too short- and it would also set fire to everything (it was tried from the 1960s and proved problematic). This is a shame as a Harrier is desperate for thrust on take-off and could do with the ability to perform a decent high-speed dash. Though conventional afterburners are out of the question, you could however use plenum chamber burning (PCB). This technology was developed for the Mach 2 Hawker Siddeley P.1154 (think the lovechild of a Harrier and a F-4, with the wingspan of a Messerschmitt Bf 109) – which never entered service. PCB chucks additional fuel into a turbofan’s cold bypass air only and ignites it (a conventional afterburner puts the burning fuel into the combined cold and hot gas flows). This is great, but how do you incorporate this into swivelling nozzles without destroying the rear fuselage with heat and vibration? BAe thought it found the answer – get ride of the rear fuselage altogether, and mount the tail onto two booms. Worried that this already eccentric idea might seem too conventional, BAe decided to add an ‘X-wing’ configuration with swept forward wings (which were in vogue in the early 1980s). This did produce the coolest fighter concept of the 1980s, even in the -3 variant shown which had conventional tails.

The P.1214 would have been extremely agile (and short-ranged), probably comparable to the Yak-41. The P.1214 lost its swept forward wings when further studies revealed them to be of no great value. It now became the P.1216, which was intended to satisfy the USMC and RN’s desire for a supersonic jump-jet (a need eventually met by the F-35B). A full-sized wooden P.1216 was built to distract Thatcher from stealing children’s milk, predictably (as it was British) the whole project was scrapped. This was arguably a good thing as British military hardware testing and development was at its lowest ebb in the 1980s (see the Nimrod AEW.3, SA80 battle rifle, Foxhunter radar, Harrier GR5 compared to the US AV-8B, etc for details).

Prize for winning entry: your chosen name will be used in the book as the name of the P1214-3.

How to enter: we will only accept submissions in the comments section below this article at

(*The name is unofficial and this competition is not affiliated with BAE Systems)

Profile illustrations by The Teasel Studio.


  1. Matthew Johnson

    ‘The Shrew’, in honour of R.J. Mitchell who allegedly wanted to name the Spitfire with that name, and a nod to the 80’s where they would have given it a weird name.

  2. Andrew Elms

    Cockatrice. Mythical, winged, fire-breathing beast. Used in the insignia of 3 (F) Squadron, which I expect would have operated them.

  3. Simon Craven

    The only name for it is the ReluctantCat as it is doing exactly what any moggie does when you try to stuff them in the pet carrier to take them to the vet!

  4. Garry R Gutierrez

    Name it Peregrine which is a bird of prey the Harrier was a type of BOP as was Kestrel the predecessor to the Harrier if not other Birds of Prey are Caracara and Kite,Gyrfalcon,Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard since the U.K has a Hawk aircraft and the U.S has Eagle and Falcon, Raptor,Goshawk and Osprey.

  5. Gray Stanback

    Since it was designed by BAe, which is the successor company to Hawker Siddeley, and that company had a long tradition of naming fighters after weather phenomena (Hurricane, Typhoon, Tempest) I suggest that it be named the Cyclone.

    • Aleksi

      Beat me to it, Scott, so you have my vote.
      A soaring, hovering bird of prey with an allusion to plenum chamber burning.
      On the subject of contests, will we have an aircraft design one, too?

    • Aleksi

      I hesitate to add this (and this should in no way be considered a serious proposition, perhaps only inspired by the impending Halloween) but in the sci-fi/horror show “Tremors” there was a particular kind of flying monster that shot fire out of its … derrière. It was called the “a**-blaster”.

  6. Marc Witsel

    I’m thinking, a name you would call it then, or a name you would call it now? Yes, I agree – both.
    I’m thinking, shoud the name be daft? The British are good at that – absolutely bonkers names. Real stinkers. Ah, but never with aircraft? Okay. So a good name. A bird pf prey! Shrike?
    I’m thinking, you can’t use a name used elsewhere in aviation, or you’d get letters from solicitors. General Dymanics did, from Dassault, and changed the name of their new lightweight fighter from Falcon (which fit as the heavy F15 is called the Eagle) to Fighting Falcon (apparently the name of a mediocre American football team). So Shrike is out. The AGM-45 was in service in the eighties, you see.
    Oh hell, Hawker re-used names all the time. Think Harrier is their first Harrier? Guess again.
    I’d call it the Hunter.

  7. Ian T

    Harpoon – it’s roots with the Hawker design team means an “H” name would be a continuation from Hind, Hurricane, Hunter and Harrier. The name has naval connotations too. (note – in this alt history, the Harpoon missile would have to have a different name, but I think this design precedes the missile).

  8. Sgib

    As (in my imagination) the production aircraft was developed in partnership with Lockheed, they insisted it was called the F30 Conquest (if you get the reference).

  9. Remco

    The BAe Beowulf, keeping tradition of alliteration of manufacturer and aircraft name. And Beowulf obviously is a legendary Old English hero.

  10. Parns

    Haboob would combine both Hawker traditions of naming fighter aircraft after types of winds and having combat aircraft names beginning with H (e.g. Hotspur, Hind, Hector, Horsley). For the first time since the Hurricane.

  11. Kendrick Fernandes

    BAe Harrier-Switchblade- considering it was to succeed the Harrier but still trying to maintain it`s roots to differentiate from the P-1154 family to come (which of course, did not happen)

  12. Dan.H

    The BAE Systems: Keith From Accounts or KFA Mk.1. Firstly, Keith is a good strong name for a fighter and secondly, it gives an idea of the fate of this incredible union of Harrier and flying squirrel.

  13. Sven W.

    Can’t believe it , I had the same book as a kid, that I got at the dutch military aviation at Soesterberg (Netherlands). And have been looking for it , since then. It could definitely use a proper name. I loved the design from the moment I saw it, and hoped it would be built at least once …
    Considering it was a design intended to replace the harrier…

    I would name it: the Gyrfalcon

  14. RG

    BAe Barbastelle. Named after type of bat found in the UK apparently. Shame it wasn’t a Mitsubishi design though as I would have gone with Shuriken.

  15. James Smith

    P1214-3 comes from the Kingston stable, so needs to have a Raptor name if possible.

    My first choice would be Peregrine, the name I used for my M-wing fighter concept submitted to one of your design competitions.

    But if not Peregrine, what about the Hawker-Siddeley Harpy, Harpy is an alternative name for the Harrier according o ‘British Birds and their Nests (1899).

  16. Stephen McParlin

    I’d like to call it Garry, after Garry Lockley, who was the aerodynamics lead on this, and P1216. He was a good friend, and died way too young, of early onset Parkinsons. He was a lovely bloke, who loved real ale and cricket, and followed the Barmy Army on tour of the West Indies on the back of a two-year stint in St Louis, getting to see Brian Lara’s record test innings in the process.

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