Hawker Hurricane Mk Ia [L1592]

Hawker Hurricane Mk Ia [L1592]  [@ Science Museum]

Although not in service for as long as its Battle of Britain partner, the Spitfire, the Hurricane did remain in service with one front line RAF squadron for about eighteen months after the end of WW2.   While the Hurricane was robust and manoeuvrable it lacked the Spitfire's potential for development.   Both aircraft were designed to Specification F.36/34 which called for an eight-gun monoplane fighter.

L1592 was delivered to 56 Squadron at North Weald on the 3rd June 1938 and went on to serve with 17, 615, 152 & 43 Squadrons in the early days of WW2 including 87 Squadron which was based at Merville, France, in October 1939.  L1592 was shot down and damaged during a forced landing near Croydon on the 18th August 1940.  Repaired L1592 went on to be attached to a number of MU’s before being designated for museum purposes by the Air Historical Branch in August 1944.  L1592 was used in the making of the 1952 film “Angels One Five” starring Jack Hawkins which was filmed at RAF Kenley.

Hawker Hurricane Mk Ia [P2617]Hawker Hurricane Mk Ia [P2617]

Hawker Hurricane Mk Ia [P2617]  [@ RAF Hendon]

Designed by Sydney Camm around existing technology, the Hurricane used tubular metal alloy and fabric covering on the fuselage with metal skinning on the wings.   This had the advantage of being easy to repair while resisting battle damage well.  The Hawker Hurricane was the first our monoplane fighters, powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin II or III engine and given an armament of eight 0.303in [7.7mm] Colt Browning machine guns.  The prototype, K5083,with a Merlin C engine, flew on 6th November 1935 and the first one of an initial order for 600 flew on the 12th October 1937 after some delay caused by the decision to upgrade the engine to a Merlin II.  The initial batch, Mk 1s, entered service with 111 Squadron at Northolt in November 1937.  These early aircraft were simple, with fabric-covered wings, a wooden two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller and lacking armour or self-sealing tanks.  By 1939 the Mk I had been developed to make use of,  the de Havilland constant speed metal propeller, ejector exhaust stacks (for added thrust), metal-covered wings and armour.  About 500 of this later design formed the backbone of the fighter squadrons during the Battle of France and into the Battle of Britain.  All Mk 1s had retired from RAF service by the end of the war.

Built by the Gloster Aircraft Company at Brockworth and powered by a Merlin III [photograph - right], P2617 entered RAF service on the 19th January 1940.  After a brief storage period with 20 MU at Aston Down and then 6 MU at Brize Norton P2617 was initially allocated to 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron RAAF and reallocated the following day to 607 (County of Durham) Squadron RAAF.  Both squadrons were based at Abbeville, France, and were re-equipping with Hurricanes from Gladiators.  With the opening of the Blitzkrieg on France on the 10th May 1940 P2617 was involved sorties in France until the squadron re-assembled at Croydon on the 22nd May 1940 and was possibly involved with the sorties over the Channel and France.  By the 26th Oct 1940 P2617 was transferred to 1 (Canadian) Squadron (later 401 Squadron) who were based at Prestwick to fly patrols over the Clyde Approaches.  Following an overhaul by Gloster during late 1940 and early 1941 P2617 was transferred to the 9 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) (later re-designated 9 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit) based at RAF Hullavington on the 31st May 1941.  Numerous accidents and repair then followed and finally P2617 was transferred to 22 MU and placed into storage at RAF Silloth, Cumbria, on the 21st August 1943.  Identified for preservation by the Air Historical Branch in April 1944 P2617 finally arrived at RAF Hendon during May 1972.  P2617 was used in the making of the film “Angels One Five” and can be seen taxing in a couple of scenes, and may have actually flown, as P2619 (US-B) of 56 Squadron.  During August and September 1955 P2617 was again at RAF Kenley for the making of the 1956 film “Reach for the Sky” starring Kenneth More.  Based on the life of Group Captain Douglas Bader P2617 can be seen acting in static shots as T4107/SD-P, SD-W and SD-X.  Following restoration at RAF Henlow to a taxi-able condition P2617 was used in early 1968 in the making of the 1969 “Battle of Britain” film and can be seen in the film carrying false RAF serials of H3426 and H3427 and of codes MI-C and MI-S.   In the photograph P2617 is in the livery of AF-F of 607 Squadron.

Hawker Hurricane Mk IIa [Z2315]

Hawker Hurricane Mk IIa [Z2315]  [@ RAF Duxford]

On 11th June 1940 the prototype Mk II, P3269, a converted Mk 1 flew for the first time powered by a Merlin XX engine and as they reached squadron service the Mk Is were fitted with sand filters and sent to the Middle East.  The Mk II entered service with 111 Squadron in September 1940 at the peak of the Battle of Britain.  20 mph faster than the Mk I it came in three versions, the Mk IIAs which retained the eight gun armament, with twelve gun armament for the Mk IIB's entered service in April 1941 while the Mk IICs which had a wing armament of four 0.79in [20mm] Hispano cannon entered service in June 1941 and was mostly used in the ground-attack roleLater on the Mk II was fitted to carry two 250lb or two 500lb bombs under the wings and from 1942 eight 3 in rocket projectiles.  Due to the difficulty of destroying German tanks, 20 mm cannons did not have the penetrating power and the lack of accuracy to bomb them, a Mk IIB was converted to carry a 40 mm cannon in a pod under each wing together with a single Browning.  The 2 Browning’s were loaded with tracers to help aim the 40 mm cannons.  The prototype flew for the first time on 18th September 1941 and they were nicknamed the "Flying Can Openers" when they entered service with 6 Squadron from December of 1942.  The Mk IID was a special antitank version armed with two 15 round Vickers "S" guns and two 7.7mm Brownings.  It included additional armour for the pilot, radiator and engine.  By the end of the war the Mk II had been withdrawn from front-line service but it remained in service with a number of second-line units.  The T Mk IIC was a two-seat training version of the Mk IIC but only two aircraft were built for the Persian Air Force.

Z2315 arrived at Duxford as a salvaged wreck from Russia.  It is now restored to its former glory in 111 Squadron markings.

Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc [LF738]Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc [LF738]

Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc [LF738]  [@ RAF Cosford]

LF738 was built in 1944 in the final batch of 1,357 aircraft.  In 1954 it was the gate guardian at the Battle of Britain Chapel, Biggin Hill.  Refurbished in 1969, 1974 and completely restored 1984-1990 by the Royal Aeronautical Society LF738 arrived at RAF Cosford in 1995.

Due to the shortage of Merlins, the Mk III was going to be a Mk II equipped with an American Packard built Merlin engine, however, production was not pursued as intend as Merlin production in the UK had increased to a point where the idea was unnecessary.

Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc [LF363]Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc [LF363]

Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc [LF363]  [@ BBMF/ RAF Coningsby]

The only other British production model was the MK IV, fitted with either the Merlin 24 or 27, and was used with great success in the ground-attack role mainly in the Middle and Far East towards the closing stages of the war.  The prototype Mk IV, KX405, flew for the first time on 14th March 1943 and featured a universal wing that could be configured to carry a variety of weapons (see Mk II) together with additional armour protection.  Originally known as the Mk IIE the changes became extensive enough for it to be renamed the Mk IV after the first 250 had been delivered.  It was used in ground-attack missions in Europe until the early days of 1944 before being replaced by the Hawker Typhoon.

LF363 first flew on 1st January 1944 and was delivered to 5 MU on 28th January.   It was then in continual RAF service until a serious crash landing on 11th September 1991.   LF363 is believed to be the last Hurricane to enter RAF service and served with 63, 309 (Polish) and 26 Squadron before the end of WW2.  Unlike many other Hurricanes LF363 was not scrapped, but served on various station flights as well as an appearance in the film "Angels One Five".  Refurbished by Hawkers in September 1952 LF363 returned to RAF duties.  In 1954, whilst being operated by the RAF Waterbeach Station Flight, LF363 appeared in the television series "The War in the Air" and the following year in the film "Reach for the Sky".  In July 1957 LF363 became a founder member of the RAF Historic Flight at Biggin Hill  After the major accident in 1991 LF363 was completely rebuilt and flew for the first time in 7 years in the autumn of 1998.

Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc [LF658]Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc [LF658]Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc [LF658]

Hawker Hurricane Mk IIc [LF658]  [@ Koninklijk Leger Museum, Brussels]

The Mk V was a development of the Mk IV.  Powered by a Merlin 32 driving a four-bladed propeller the prototype, KZ193, was not placed into full production after engine maintenance problems and only a few were delivered to the RAF.  By this stage of the war the Hurricane was no longer considered to be a frontline fighter in the UK, however, it continued to be extensively used as a fighter elsewhere.

LF658 was built as an RAF Hurricane IIc and was used as a disarmed “pickup “aircraft within the Metropolitan Communication Squadron based at RAF Hendon from 1944.  On the 12th February 1946 LF658 was transferred to the Allied Flight Metropolitan Communication Squadron before being Taken on Charge by the Belgian Government on the 1st September 1946 and sent on the 2nd September 1946 to the Technical School at Saffraanberg as an instructional airframe.  At the creation of the new post-war "Aviation Militaire/Militair Vliegwezen" in 1946, LF658 and five other former RAF Hurricanes were acquired and served as fast communications aircraft with the Allied Flight Metropolitan Communications Squadron.  Only three (LF345, PG554, PZ754) of these aircraft were actually operational with the 169th Air Transport Wing at Evere in 1946 (on the 1st May 1948 the 169th Wing became the 15th Air Transport Wing) while LF658 and the other two (PZ769, LF165) were used as instructional airframes.  During 1947 all of the operational Hurricanes were withdrawn from service and on the 8th August 1948 at least three of the Hurricanes were destroyed in a huge fire at the Technical School at Saffraanberg.  Struck off Charge during 1951 LF658 was restored and in the photograph is in the livery of the former Hurricane LF345 which was delivered to the Allied Flight Metropolitan Communication Squadron on the 15th April 1945 before Taken on Charge by the Belgian Government on the 2nd June 1946.

Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk 1b [Z7015]

Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk 1b [Z7015]  [@ Shuttleworth Collection]

Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk 1b [Z7015]

Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk 1B [Z7015]  [@ RAF Duxford]

In 1941 the Hurricane was adopted by the Royal Navy as the Sea Hurricane Mk IA [the "Hurricat"] to offer protection for the Atlantic convoys.  These convoys were being monitored by FW-200 Condor aircraft, which operated far outside the range of land based aircraft, and co-ordinated the attacks of the U-boats on the convoys.  The Hurricat was mounted on a catapult located on the bows of some modified merchant ships and the only modifications to the Hurricane for this role was the addition of catapult spools.  These Hurricats were not ideal, as once they were launched they either had to make it back to a land base or ditch in the sea near to the convoy.  About 50 Mk 1s were converted to into Sea Hurricane Mk 1As.  As the RAF Hurricanes were withdrawn from first-line RAF squadrons they were converted for naval use as Sea Hurricanes.  These later conversions had the catapult spools and an arrester hook to enable them to land back on merchant ships modified to have a small flight deck.  From October 1941 onwards about 340 Hurricane Mk IIAs were converted to Sea Hurricane Mk IB standard which them to land on MAC (Merchant Aircraft Carrier) ships.  Similarly from February 1942 about, in total, 400 Mk IIBs (modified with Mk IIC wings) and Mk IICs were converted to Sea Hurricane Mk IC standard.  About 400 Mk IICs were converted to Sea Hurricane Mk IIC standard, which included Naval radio equipment, to serve as fighters flying from the Fleet carriers.

Z7015 is the only flying Sea Hurricane IB in the World and was built by the Canadian Car & Foundry at Fort William, Ontario, during 1940 as an Mk I.  After flight-testing Z7015 was shipped to the UK and on 27th June 1941 Z7015 was converted to Sea Hurricane IB standard (frame arrestor hook and catapult spools (Cam Ship type) fitted).  Z7015 served with 880 and 759 Naval Air Squadrons before being assigned during November 1943 to Loughborough College as an instructional airframe.  Transferred to the Shuttleworth Collection on the 21st February 1961, Z7015 was used statically in the Battle of Britain film before restoration [1986-1995] to flying condition with the first flight on the 16th September 1995.

Hawker Hurricane Mk XIIa [5711]Hawker Hurricane Mk XIIa [5711]

Hawker Hurricane Mk XIIa [5711]  [@ RAF Duxford]

Overall, Hurricane production in the UK was 13,080 with another 1451 Mks X, XI, XII and XIIA produced in Canada by the Canadian Car and Foundry Company.  Many of these aircraft were shipped to England and assigned to RCAF units supplementing the RAF, but a smaller number were retained for Home Defence duties in Canada.  Powered by the Packard built Merlin these variants were equivalent to the Mark I (X with a Merlin 28) and II (XI, XII (with a Merlin 29) and XIIA).  Some Mk XIIs were converted to Sea Hurricane Mk XIIA standard.

5711 was built in 1942 by the Canadian Car and Foundry (CC&F) as part of their sixth production batch and was delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on the 8th January 1943.  CC&F later became a part of Hawker Siddeley Canada through the purchase by A.V. Roe Canada in 1957 and today the remaining factories are a part of Bombardier.  5711 is believed to have served with 123 Squadron RCAF at RCAF Station Debert, Novia Scotia, 127 and 129 Squadrons at RCAF Station Dartmouth and with 1 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Bagotville.  123 (Army Co-operation) Squadron had formed on the 15th January 1942 and was later renumbered 439 (Fighter Bomber) Squadron RCAF on the 31st December 1943 when it moved to the UK.  The Squadron flew Hurricanes and later the Typhoon.  RCAF Station Dartmouth became Eastern Air Command's most important base during WW2 by playing a pivotal role in the Battle of the Atlantic.  Over the duration of WW2 nine RCAF long-range bomber-reconnaissance squadrons flew anti-submarine and convoy escort patrols over the North West Atlantic and Gulf of St. Lawrence from the station.  These included the Supermarine Stranraer, Digby, Hudson, Catalina and Liberator aircraft.  In addition a total of six RCAF Fighter squadrons, equipped the with Goblin, Kittyhawk and Hurricane aircraft, were based at RCAF Station Dartmouth to protect Canada's Atlantic approaches and Halifax's strategic harbour from air attack.  127 Squadron had formed during July 1942 and operated along the East Coast of Canada until late 1943 when it was transferred to the UK on the 8th February 1944 and re-designated 443 Squadron.  RCAF Station Bagotville was built in July 1942 to provide a training base for RCAF pilots and protect the Alcan and hydro-electric facilities in the area.  5711 was Struck off Charge on the 3rd January 1947 and sold the Air Museum of Canada, Calgary, Alberta.  In 1970 5711 sold again and underwent restoration using parts from RCAF 5625, 5547 and 5424 from 1975 to 1982.  Purchased in December 1982 and shipped to the UK, 5711 arrived at RAF Duxford on the 9th June 1983.  Following a rebuild 5711 flew for the first time on the 1st September 1989 as Hurricane Z7381, coded XR-T, which flew with 71 “Eagle” Squadron RAF.  71 Squadron was formed in September 1940 and was the first of the three Eagle Squadrons.  Manned by US personnel, the Squadron became operational on the 5th February 1941 flying defensive operations out of RAF Church Fenton near Tadcaster, North Yorkshire.  Initially the Brewster Buffalo I for one month before reequipping with the Hurricane Mk I.  Also used by the RAAF and RNZAF, the Buffalo 1 or the B-339E (170 built) was powered by the Wright GR-1820-G-105 engine and was the export version of the F2A-2.  During August 1941 the Squadron was reequipped with the Spitfire Mk II which was quickly replaced by the Spitfire Mk V variant.  The Eagle Squadrons existed until the 29th September 1942 when they were turned over to the Eighth Air Force of the U.S.  Of the thousands that volunteered, only 244 Americans served with the three Eagle Squadrons; sixteen Britons also served as squadron and flight commanders.  Following extensive maintenance and repair in 2004 5711 was repainted in the livery of Z5140, coded HA-C, a Gloster built Mk IIB which served with 126 Squadron RAF during the siege of Malta.  126 Squadron became operational on the 28th June 1941 at RAF Takali with Hurricanes Mk 1s and MK 11Bs for the defence of Malta against enemy attacks from Sicily.  Z5140 had landed in Malta on the 6th June 1941 having flown in from HMS Ark Royal.  No time could be spared to change the livery of Z5140 from the “Battle of Britain” brown and green camouflage colour scheme to the tropical colour scheme.  In March 1942 the Squadron reequipped with the Spitfire Vc which were flown in the same role until February 1943 when the Squadron started offensive sweeps over Sicily and were supplement from August 1943 with the Spitfire Mk IX.  In September 2005 Z5140 became the first Hurricane to return to Malta since WW2 when with Spitfire BM597 they flew there together as a part of the “Merlins over Malta” project.

Hawker Hurricane Mk XIIb [5589]Hawker Hurricane Mk XIIb [5589]

Hawker Hurricane Mk XIIb [5589]  [@ RAF Duxford]

Hurricane [5589] & Sea Hurricane [Z7015]

Hurricane [5589] & Sea Hurricane [Z7015 [@ RAF Duxford]

5589 built in Fort William by the Canadian Car and Foundry (CC&F) and delivered to the RCAF on the 6th November 1942.  Placed into long term storage with 2 Training Command (TC) based at Winnipeg, Manitoba.  The Command was a part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP).  Administered by the Government of Canada and commanded by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) the BCATP was a major program for the training Allied air crews during WW2.  It was broken into four TCs, with 2 TC covering north-western Ontario, all of Manitoba and part of Saskatchewan.  On the 24th March 1943 5589 was transferred to Western Air Command and again placed into storage.  Western Air Command was responsible for air operations on the Pacific coast of Canada during WW2.  Issued to a Canadian Coastal Defence Squadron (possibly 133 RCAF based at Station Boundary Bay, British Columbia, or 135 RCAF based at Station Patricia Bay, British Columbia) on the 13th August 1943.  5589 returned to 2 TC on the 4th August 1944 and again placed into storage.  On the 1st December 1944 5589 was transferred to 2 Air Command when it formed from the merger 2 and 4 TC of the BCATP.  5589 was taken out of storage on the 5th March 1945 and assigned to a Training Unit.  Unfortunately 5598 crashed near North Battleford, Saskatchewan on the 28th March 1945.  5598 was eventually Struck off Charge on the 1st October 1945 and most probably sold as surplus in 1948-49.  The post war history of 5589 is rather hazy; however, 5589 was eventually restored to flying condition after a seven-year restoration in 1995.  Then based at Brooklands, 5598 flew as BE417 “AE-K” and wearing the colours of 402 Squadron.  In the photograph 5589 in the night-fighter colour scheme of "LK-A" an 87 Squadron aircraft flown by Squadron Leader Ian “Widge” Gleed circa 1940.  87 Squadron had re-formed on the 15th March 1937 at RAF Tangmere and were equipped with the Hawker Fury II.  During June the Squadron reequipped with the Gloster Gladiator I and then from July 1938 with the Hurricane Mk I.  Allocated to the British Expeditionary Force the Squadron became one of the first Squadrons to fly the Hurricane in anger.  After the Battle of France the Squadron became operational again on the 21st June 1940 and moved to Exeter in July 1940 in the day and night defensive role during the Battle of Britain but night fighting soon became its major role.  In November 1942 the Squadron sent its aircraft to Gibraltar for the invasion of North Africa and it remained in North Africa for defensive purposes until September 1943 when it moved to Sicily.  During 1941 the Squadron started to receive the Hurricane Mk IIc and it operated these until 1944, however, from 1943 the Spitfire was introduced to the Squadron.

Hurricanes flew with many air forces and some unofficial ones.  Most Commonwealth countries used the type extensively including India, Australia, New Zealand e.g.  486 and 488 Squadrons and Canada e.g.  1 Squadron (which flew in the Battle of Britain).  The South African Air Force also operated several squadrons as a part of the Desert Air Force.  Hurricanes also joined the ranks of the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres (FAFL), the Free French Air Force, fighting in North Africa between June 1940 and May 1943.  Belgium bought 20 Hurricanes and a license to build 80 more, of which only two were completed, with most of the aircraft being lost during the German invasion.  Turkey and Romania bought Hurricanes in 1939 while other significant operators included Greece, Egypt, Persia (Iran), Portugal and Yugoslavia.  2952 aircraft Hurricanes were sent to the Soviet Union where they served on all fronts.  Even the Luftwaffe operated some captured Hurricanes for training purposes while the Japanese captured two from Australia (both were destroyed before they could be put to any use).

Hurricane - replica

 Hurricane  [@ RAF Tangmere]

The photograph shows a replica of L1676 which was delivered to 1 Squadron based at RAF Tangmere in early 1939 and saw active service in France from the 9th September 1939.  Badly damaged during a crash-landing at Mezieres on the 10th May1940 L1676 was destroyed on the ground 4 days later.  Built in 1980 the replica is powered by a Rover V8 engine and is capable of being taxied.