View Full Version : Hunters & Lightnings

Compass Call
22nd Sep 2005, 23:18
Engine Starting

How are the Avons in the airworthy Hunters and taxiable Lightnings started?

In my day in the RAF they were started by cartridge(Hunter) and AVPIN(Lightning). In the Middle East the Hunters were started by AVPIN. But surely both AVPIN & cartridges must be in very short supply if available at all.

Has an alternative(safer) electric starting system been designed for them?

Just curious:ok:


Conan the Librarian
23rd Sep 2005, 10:06
I believe that Delta Jets of Kemble, have developed an electric start system for the Hunter with precisely this in mind. Better qualified Gents will elaborate, no doubt.


23rd Sep 2005, 11:04
It's a mixed bag on the Hunter front.
Some of the UK-based aircraft still use cartridge start (Hunter T.7 XL573 G-BVGH and PR.11 WT723 G-PRII to name two), whereas others like Delta Jets' two Hunter T.7s use electric start.
Hunter F.6A XF516, which sadly crashed in 2003, may have used Avpin cartridges to start it.
I'd guess that most will switch to electric over the coming years though.


23rd Sep 2005, 11:41
I'd be very surprised if many civilian Hunters use Avpin (Iso-propyl-nitrate) - it's evil stuff. A monofuel which burns with a near-invisible flame and requires a member of the starter crew to beat out any suspected fire with an asbestos glove...

Heaven knows what the nanny-state Health and Safety police or Eurocratic enviro-fundamentalists would make of that!

The joys of the "Wheee-phutt" and "Whee-whee" start failures - that taks me back to Brawdy days!

23rd Sep 2005, 12:31
The Meteors at Chalgrove (Martin Baker) use a neat trolley Ac to start. I have a small video of the proceedure which will be posted soon on my website.

Compass Call
23rd Sep 2005, 19:09

Asbestos glove????????????

You are a bit out of touch Beags - RAF issue beret was the weapon of choice in my day :E You could always tell if the Hunter had an AVPIN starter because the members of the starter crew usually had a hole burnt in their berets:ok: :ok:

What do the Lightnings in civvy hands use then? AVPIN or Electric?


26th Sep 2005, 09:28
The Americans used to laugh at our cloth covered Venoms but when we fired the starter cartridges they ran away!

26th Sep 2005, 21:18
"Ah, I love the smell of Avpin in the morning!" (Robert Duvall, Apocalypse Now)

Nothing quite like the streaming eyes and burning throat to cure the hangover (ok so maybe it was the 100% O2 that did the trick)

The Lightnings in Cape Town all retained the Avpin starting system. IIRC the owner managed to secure a fresh producer of the stuff. It is not that different in make-up to the hydrazine used in F-16 emergency power units.

FRADU: I know(!) when XF516 crashed it was indeed avpin started, but it was poured in from a container rather than being a cartridge.

The electric start option for the Hunter involves a tray of batteries and the engine spins up quite slowly.

Typhoon DA2 has a hydrazine power unit which is for the high risk trials, but such is the HSE environment that the unions negotiated extra payments for the folks handling it.


country calls
26th Sep 2005, 23:05
The SWO at Valley used to loiter around the Junior Ranks Mess and charge anyone with the characteristic Avpin Singe on their berets. So the old Liney glove was used, and todays H&S wallahs would have a blue fit if they saw the OX 38 soaked gloves beating out invisible flames. Great in winter though if you put a still burning glove in your pocket by mistake, NOT!

Wonder what they would think of the practice of moving the polypins of the stuff down the line, by rolling them propelled by boot DMS!

26th Sep 2005, 23:32
Buy your Avpin here:



Krystal n chips
27th Sep 2005, 08:00
Country Calls----the H and S brigade would have an even bigger fit if they had witnessed Gnats being LOX'ed up at night--in the corner (ish) of Gaydon Hangar complete with swirling clouds of vented vapour rolling over the floor and drip trays. Not that this ever happened of course :hmm: ---or, for that matter, degreasing wheel bearings in non leaded gasoline--masks, gloves ventilation ??---next !.

Dr Illitout
27th Sep 2005, 13:29
Hears a question for you Hunter men. I've only ever started a jet engine with compressed air. You know Start valve open, Max motoring, fuel in, WHUMPH that sort of thing. What's the sequence of events in the cockpit when cartridge starting?.

Rgds Dr.I.

27th Sep 2005, 13:52
Master switch ON
LP cock open
HP cock and/or throttle set
Push tit.
RPM, JPT and oil pressure all normal.

Or variations on that theme!

Dr Illitout
27th Sep 2005, 14:06
Thank you BEagle. It was the H.P. cock bit that I was puzzled about, before or after the PFFSSSHHHEEEOOOWWFF!

Rgds Dr.I.

27th Sep 2005, 14:57
And there's me thinking that a cartridge went.....

Boom :sad:

28th Sep 2005, 02:23
Hi all
Hydrazine! Jesus wept! What about the airstart cart used for F4s and the like,built around an APU core and going from nothing to 10000 plus revs in about two seconds?! Guaranteed to wake the dead and get the engines rolling. I saw a Chippie started using the cartridge starter,JimGriff, and it makes a very satisfying BANG! followed by the usual Gipsy spluttering. When it doesn't go Bang! but goes HHssssss...,that's when the pilot and engineers go white and find excuses to be elsewhere.

28th Sep 2005, 15:54
The Canberras were always good for scaring the forrinners when they started up. Sharp bang and lots of smoke. Our T.4 from Wyton had the US Crash Waggons arrive at it when at Alconbury once. Mind you, the US B-57 (Canberra look-alike) was just as bad. :ok:

29th Sep 2005, 14:51
Interesting. At Bruntingthorpe a while ago they started the lightn ing up, and they seemed to use compressed air. Certianly there was a lot of hissing noise before the engines started.

have they modified them?

29th Sep 2005, 14:59
Suspect the hissing noise you refer to is the exhaust gas venting outboard after the combustion has created the expansion of gas that spins the motor up.

Unless of course you saw a couple of cylinders and hose leading to the engines, but I can't for the life of me imagine how they could rig that up.

Resorting to BEagle-speak, it would normally sound like:



4th Oct 2005, 13:31
For a short while in the early '90s at Boscombe Down, the H&S brigade made the starter crew wear respirators when starting the Hunter 9 because of the burning AVPIN fumes! Luckily, common sense soon prevailed.

6th Oct 2005, 12:13

Beg to differ, it would normally sound like:


Hopefully, after suitable and delicate engineering intervention the joyous sound of:


Then the same performance with No 2!


6th Oct 2005, 13:33
I was at the front end of a Hunter many years ago at Brawdy for a start/see off and the stated "WEEEEEE-PHUT" happend followed (after the required blow through) by the (not so) joyous sound of:

WEEEEEE PPPSSSSHBLOODY GREAT BANG! As the bursting disks flew out & a good part of the intakes rapidly came my way. The smell from my trousers was awful! :O

11th Oct 2005, 00:17

Nah. The last (attempted) Hunter start I saw went...


"come on you [email protected][email protected]"


(insert much cursing as miserable double-jointed groundcrew bloke replaces suspected duff cartridge)

"right-oh, try it now"


"Ooh, you feckin'........."

(sound of Hunter being towed back to hangar followed by mumbling, grumbling, growling crew)


11th Oct 2005, 00:59

Wee phut only if the boys had not kept the nozzles clean, solution a good blow job with high pressure air/gas (or even deflate a spare main wheel) through the system.

Wee nothing or nothing at all normally meant swapping fuses. Seen it done away from base after one engine was started and pilot vacates cockpit to open spine and do said electrical magic much to the amazement of assembled Johnny Foreigners.


No point in struggling to replace carts until you've had 3 goes at it for the rotor arm to swing round again.


14th Oct 2005, 13:05
Lightnings & single seat (RAF) Hunters (& PR9 Canberra's?) were started using Avpin that was lit with a high frequency ignition unit, hence my earlier post. I think G085SH1TE is referring to either a 2 seat Hunter or a Navy one which were purely cartridge start (as were most Canberra's). For those old enough, Mr. Glosters mighty Javelin used Avpin also, but had it lit by a Chipmunk style cartridge (so I'm told).

16th Oct 2005, 11:32
Lightnings and AVPIN, those were the days. Brings back memories of burnt out Land Rovers (can of AVPIN fell over and leaked onto exhaust pipe) and liney who filled his lighter with the stuff!

Then there were the blocked starter drains, result, failed start fluid didn't drain so next attempt got two shots. Big bang, blades and bits flying everywhere. Especially exciting when bits of starter exit side of lightning explosively. I was always amazed how quickly a pilot could remove himself 50 yards from such an event, even the normally laid back ones.

More spectacular in my mind, was failed starts on Canberras, the cartridge start versions. Lots of fuel sitting in that long jet pipe which usually lit at the second attempt, 25-30 foot long blowtorch, very impressive at night

16th Oct 2005, 14:28
Faster than the speeding pilot mentioned above was the virgin intake inspection sooty who, when he had wriggled his way past the radar bullet, got the fright of his life when his "mates" hit the start button (with the system disconnected) and heard the WEEEE,!!!

He was out of there like a champagne cork on meth, straight to change his shorts.

Oh how they laughed!!