In June 1942, a confused Luftwaffe pilot landed his Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3 fighter by mistake at a Royal Air Force base. He thereby handed over, on an aircraft-grade aluminum platter, the technologies and aeronautical design that had given the 190 air superiority in the early years of World War II. Those specifications helped guide development of the Hawker Sea Fury, which has been called the fastest production piston-engine aircraft ever built. Although the Sea Fury came on line just as the war was ending, and attention soon turned to jet aircraft, the Sea Fury proved its worth for years to come – seeing action in Korea and in noncombat roles.
Sea Fury 232 is a MK-11, manufactured in September 1947 and originally powered by a Bristol Centaurus engine. The plane was one of two Sea Furies found in a farmer’s field in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1962. Its mate was lost to a hangar fire, but 232 was eventually restored and began its racing career in 1970 at the California 1000 distance race in Mojave, California. It was raced sporadically throughout the 1970s and, after changing hands several times, raced at Reno in 1988. In the 1990s, the aircraft underwent substantial modification, including installation of a fuel-injected Curtis Wright R-3350-93 engine and addition of a low-profile racing canopy. Since 2002, 232 has raced several times at Reno, earning the title as the world’s fastest Sea Fury and winning the Gold race in 2006 with an average speed of 481.7 mph. Lewis Racing LLC acquired 232 in 2008 and, under his guidance, the aircraft qualified fourth fastest in the field at Reno 2011 – right behind another Lewis aircraft: Rare Bear.