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Sanders Aeronautics' Hawker Sea Fury FB.11 "Argonaut"


Home Base: Ione, CA
Model: FB.11
Wing Span:
38' 5"
Length: 34' 7"
Height: 16' 1"
Max Speed: 460 mph
Gross Weight: 12,500 lbs
Power Plant:
Pratt & Whitney R-2800 CB3
Horsepower: 2,400

One of the fastest piston engine aircraft ever built, Hawker's magnificent Sea Fury/Fury has always had the ability to inspire awe amongst everyone from airport kids to jet fighter pilots. It continues to attract fans at airshows and air races around the world and leaves most other aircraft of the era well behind.

Hawker was designated to work on the land-based version, the Fury, and responsibility for the naval conversion was assigned to Boulton-Paul Aircraft Ltd. In April of 1944 contracts were placed for 200 aircraft for each the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm. The first Sea Fury prototype flew on February 21, 1945, but the first full naval version with folding wings did not fly until October 12, 1947.

The Sea Fury was to see significant involvement in the Korean War, mainly in the ground attack role alongside the Fairey Firefly. The aircraft also had the distinction of shooting down a Mig-15, the first by a piston engine fighter, this being achieved by an 802 Squadron aircraft flown by Lt. P. Carmichael on August 9, 1952.

Hawker Sea Fury FB. 11, N19SF "Argonaut", was originally delivered to the Royal Canadian Navy as TG114 in May 1947. Frank Sanders of Chino, California acquired it in 1970 and used parts from it for other restoration projects. It was transferred to Sanders Aircraft in 1990 and was rebuilt based on the cockpit section of Sea Fury TG114 (former N232J) which was itself restored from parts of VR918 and VR919. Its Bristol Centaurus engine was replaced with a Wright R-3350-26WD radial engine, driving a Douglas Skyraider propeller, and first flew after restoration on July 30, 1994. It was named "Argonaut" and assigned race number 114.

In the past, numerous people have asked about the possibility of installing the Pratt & Whitney R-2800, well known for its outstanding record of dependability. After doing a comparison between the two engines we decided to convert “Argonaut” to an R-2800 CB16/CB3.

Conversion was scheduled to start after Reno, but after the word got out, the interest was to the point that we started sooner. When comparing the two engines, it can be seen that the numbers are fairly close and the dependability becomes the overriding factor in converting to the R-2800.

Sanders Aeronautics is now in a position to offer conversion kits or in house conversions of the Sea Fury to Pratt & Whitney R-2800 power. Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in a conversion or restored R-2800 powered Sea Fury.

On April 19, 2011 Dennis Sanders took Argonaut on a successful 20 minute first flight with the new Pratt & Whitney R-2800 CB3. Argonaut was inspected after the flight and Brian Sanders then flew Argonaut on it's second flight later that afternoon. Both reported that the R-2800 CB3 engine pulled as hard as the old R-3350 and the aircraft handled very well.

A 10 hour test flight schedule started on May 21, 2011. Prior to the days first flight, three separate power runs were made, with the last being a full power check. The oil screens were checked and everything was good for the test flights to begin. Brian Sanders flew the first flight with Dennis in the SX 300 chase plane. The engine and airplane performed perfectly. All engine parameters were reported in the green and Brian said that the engine was running very smooth and strong at all power settings. The oil screens were then checked and Dennis Sanders took Argonaut up for the second test flight that day.

The Sanders brothers, Dennis and Brian, are renowned experts in the field of Sea Furies and aircraft restoration in general. "Argonaut" has been equipped with smoke generators on both wing tips, allowing it to visually demonstrate the effects of wing tip vortices and its awesome performance while performing warbird aerobatics at select airshows.

Over the years, "Argonaut" has also been a regular Unlimited participant at the National Championship Air Races, "the world's fastest motor sport", held every September in Reno, Nevada. This immaculate aircraft has relatively few race modifications. To keep oil temps under control, spray bars are used on the oil cooler, and it is also equipped with an ADI system, allowing it to run a typical race power setting of 61 in.Hg. Abs at 2,800 rpm.

Argonaut Smoke Test Video

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