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Hawker Hurricane

Variants : Photos : On Display
The Hurricane would form the backbone of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain and would fulfil a number of different roles. One of the more successful Hawker Hurricane variants was the Mk IID 'Tank Buster', earning the nickname 'The Flying Can Opener'.
Quick facts
Hurricane Mk 1 - 312 Squadron (RAF), 1940
First flight
6th November 1935
Entered service
December 1937
Total built
Over 14,000
Front view
Side view
Rear view
Sorry, no view photo available

In 1933, Sydney Camm, Hawker's chief designer discussed with the Air Ministry the prospect of a monoplane fighter. The design of which Hawker based on their Fury biplane, using a Rolls-Royce Goshawk engine. As the development of the aircraft progressed, a Rolls-Royce P.V.12 engine replaced the Goshawk engine. Construction of the prototype began after the Air Ministry had specification F.36/34 drawn up. The prototype flew on the 6th November 1935 and was powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin 'C' engine.

February 1936 saw official trials begin, which saw the Hurricane comfortably beat high speed performance predictions and as a result an order for 600 Hurricanes was placed on the 3rd June 1936, and by the end of June the aircraft was named the Hurricane. One of the conditions for the order was for the plane to be installed with a Merlin II engine. This meant a delay as a redesign was required for certain parts of the plane. However 16 months after the order was placed, the first production Hurricane I flew on the 12th October 1937.

No. 111 Squadron based at Northolt, Middlesex were the first to receive the new Hawker Hurricane I, which by December 1937 had one flight operational, and by the end of January 1938 was completely re-equipped. two more squadrons received the new plane and by the end of 1938 RAF Fighter Command had received around 200 planes.

When war broke out in September 1939, the RAF had 19 squadrons fully equipped with Hawker Hurricanes, and Nos 1, 73, 85 and 87 Squadrons had been sent to bases in France. The Hurricane was also the first aircraft of the RAF to shoot down a German plane over the Western Front, when on the 30th October 1939 a Dornier Do 17 was shot down by Pilot Officer P.W.Mould.

During the "Phoney War" little action was seen. However this all changed when the German's began their push westwards during May 1940. This saw six more Hurricane squadrons immediately sent to France with two more to follow. This however was to see the RAF lose around 200 Hurricanes.

August 1940 saw the Battle of Britain begin with the fate of the British Isles dependant on the outcome. During this battle the Hawker Hurricane was to shine as even with other air and ground defences combined it was to shoot down more enemy aircraft. A tropical version of the Hurricane was to appear with a number of changes including a larger coolant radiator and this served with the three Squadrons that had been sent to defend Malta.

The following version of the Hurricane was to appear with a Merlin XX engine and a new wing able to house twelve 0.303 machine guns and a lengthened fuselage. With the new wing the Hurricane was able to hold two 500lb bombs. Further development saw the twelve machine guns replaced by four 20-mm cannons and this was dubbed the Hawker Hurricane IIC.

Like all pilots who flew and fought in the Hurricane, I grew to love it. It was strong, highly maneuverable, could turn inside the Spitfire and of course the Me 109.
Douglas Bader

1942 saw the Hurricane given a new lease of life as the IID 'tank buster' appeared. A new wing was designed to enable a anti-tank gun under each wing and a 0.303 machine gun to help with aiming. This new plane was to prove successful against both German and Japanese armour.

The last production version of the Hurricane the IV had a 'universal wing' that turned the plane into a specialised ground attack aircraft and had either a Merlin 24 or 27 engine. One of the weapons this new wing was able to take were rocket projectiles and this weapon was first used operationally on a Hawker Hurricane IV.

Over 14,000 Hurricanes had been built serving in almost every threate of war, as well as serving with a number of other countires including Russia, Finland and Turkey and Hurricanes built in Canada had a Packard built Merlin engine. It is a tribute to the Hurricanes original development potential and development during the war that it was not until 1947 that the aircraft was eventually replaced, twelve years after the first flight of a prototype Hurricane.

Also see: Hawker Sea Hurricane

Click on the plane image to view a larger version.

Plane Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Hurricane Mk I 318 mph 525 miles 33,390 ft eight 0.303-in machine-guns
Hurricane Mk II 340 mph 600 miles 36,000 ft eight 0.303-in machine-guns
Hurricane Mk III Powered by the Packard Merlin but none produced under this designation.
Hurricane Mk IV 314 mph 495 miles 32,100 ft two 0.303-in machine-guns
and either two 40mm cannons or
rocket projectiles
Hurricane Mk V Prototype that never reached production.
Hurricane Mk X 328 mph 465 miles 36,000 ft either eight 0.303-in machine-guns,
tweleve 0.303-in machine-guns or
four 20mm cannons
Hurricane Mk XI eight 0.303-in machine-guns
Hurricane Mk XII 322 mph 900 miles 32,100 ft twelve 0.303-in machine-guns or
four 20mm cannons


On Display
If one of the following letters appears next to the plane this means it is a:
(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

Plane Location
Hurricane Mk I Battle of Britain Memorial
Hurricane Mk IIC x2 Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitors Centre
Hurricane Mk IIA Brooklands Museum
Hurricane Mk IIB Imperial War Museum, Duxford
Hurricane Mk ? Jet Age Museum
Hurricane Mk ? Kent Battle of Britain Museum
Hurricane Mk IIC RAF Manston Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum
Hurricane Mk IIC Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford
Hurricane Mk I Royal Air Force Museum, London
Hurricane Mk I Science Museum
Hurricane Mk I Tangmere Military Aviation Museum
Hurricane Mk I Yorkshire Air Museum

    1. Supermarine Spitfire (Revised)
    2. Boeing P-26 Peashooter
    3. Avro Vulcan
    4. Supermarine Seafire (Revised)
    5. Vickers Wellington

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