The remarkable Harrier originated from the Hawker P1127 Kestrel, designed by Sir Sydney Camm of Hurricane fame, and was the first Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) combat aircraft to enter regular squadron service with any air force in the world. A single Pegasus turbofan engine with rotating jet-pipe nozzles allows the aircraft to fly at high speed conventionally, to hover, and to fly at slow speed vertically or even backwards!
The first of six development Harriers was flown on 31 August 1966 and the first production aircraft flew in December 1967. The type entered service with the Royal Air Force with 1 Squadron at Wittering in July 1969. Ten Harrier GR.3s from this squadron operated with Royal Navy Sea Harriers in the Falklands Conflict in 1982, flying 150 missions. Three of these aircraft were lost.
XV748 was built as a GR.1 and first flown in April 1969. It served at Wittering with the Conversion Unit and 1 Squadron and had been converted to GR.3 standard by 1976. It later became a test aircraft with the then Royal Aircraft Establishment at Bedford. By 1991, it had been retired. The Museum acquired the aircraft from Cranfield University in September 2000.