Tony Buttler describes how a private-venture research airframe became an exceptional warplane
Men Behind the Harrier
Harrier, a quintessentially British invention, can trace its origins to a Frenchman. Michel Wibault proposed an attack aircraft called the Gyroptère in 1956. This was to be powered by a Bristol Orion turboprop and had two swivelling centrifugal compressors on each side to provide a vertical take-off capability. The complex Gyroptère created a lot of interest, in particular with Bristol Engines’ technical director Stanley Hooker, who could see promise in the concept.