The Hunter WW593. Crecy /

By Tom Dare

A SERIES of fascinating images showing the previously top-secret evolution of British fighter jets since 1950 have been released as part of a new book on the subject.

British Secret Projects: Jet Fighters since 1950 by Tony Buttler is a follow-up to the 2000 release of the same name, and chronicles how the design and performance of jet fighters has developed since 1950, when the Cold War with Russia was at its peak.

An early production photo of a Hawker Hunter. Crecy /

Images show such iconic planes as the Harrier Jump Jet soaring through the skies, while others show earlier designs such as the unusually shaped sea vixen as it’s circles the skies above Britain.

Many of the designs in Tony’s book were previously unseen before its release, as military designs remain top-secret for at least 30 years before they can be released to the public.

And Tony says it’s been a joy revisiting and updating his book, with much new information now available.

A Hawker being put together. Crecy /

“It has been a fascinating exercise to retrace my steps from 18 years ago, when I started work on the first edition, and bring it up to date,” he said.

“A huge number of fighter projects were drawn by British aircraft manufacturers across the period 1950 to 1990, in particular prior to the 1957 White Paper, but with few turned into hardware relatively little had been published about most of them until the arrival of the first edition of this book.

A Sea Vixen prepares to take off. Crecy /

“One reason for this was that all the military brochures remained classified once a winner was chosen and many copies were destroyed as secret waste.

“Any survivors could not be released for public scrutiny until at least thirty years had passed.

“But I was delighted to find that my enthusiasm for these designs is as strong as ever, and I hope readers will also find them just as stimulating.”

The XF828. Crecy /

British Secret Projects: Jet Fighters since 1950 by Tony Buttler is out now and is available on Amazon here: