The de Havilland DH.103 Hornet is a twin-piston engined fighter aircraft developed by de Havilland. It further exploited the wooden construction techniques that had been pioneered by the de Havilland Mosquito. Development of the Hornet had started during the Second World War as a private venture. The aircraft was to conduct long range fighter operations in the Pacific Theatre against the Empire of Japan but the war ended before the Hornet reached operational squadron status.
The Hornet entered service with RAF Fighter Command where it equipped several day fighter units and was commonly stationed in the British mainland. It saw combat in the Far East, being used as a strike fighter as part of the British military action taken during the Malayan Emergency. A naval carrier-capable version, the Sea Hornet, had been envisioned early on and was procured by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy.
The King's Cup Race is an annual British handicapped cross-country air race, is run by the Royal Aero Club Records Racing and Rally Association and was first contested on 8 September 1922. The event was open to British pilots only, but that did include members of the Commonwealth.
The event was established by King George V as an incentive to the development of light aircraft and engine design. The first race was an 810-mile contest from Croydon Aerodrome, south of London, to Glasgow, Scotland and back again after an overnight stop. The winner of the first race was Frank L. Barnard, chief pilot of the Instone Air Line, in a passenger-carrying Airco DH.4A.
There were no races during World War II (1939–45), and the contest did not resume until 1949. The race was abandoned in 1951, due to bad weather. In 1953 a crowd of 10.000 watching the King's Cup Air Race meeting at Southend-on-Sea Essex, saw a mid-air collision in which John Crowther, a hotelier from the Marine Hotel, Tankerton, Kent, was killed.
Along with the Schneider Trophy, and the British Air Racing Championship, it is one of the most sought after prizes of an air racing season