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Hawker Hurricane

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Forming the backbone of Fighter Command during the early stages of World War 2 the Hurricane is the unsung hero of the Battle of Britain. Going on to serve in different theatres of war and fulfilling a number of different roles. One of the more successful variants was the Hawker Hurricane Mk IID 'Tank Buster' which would earn the nickname 'Flying Can Openers'.

Quick Facts
First flight
6th November 1935
Entered service
1st January 1938
Total built

Walkaround video
Front view
Hurricane front view photo
Side view
Hurricane side view photo
Rear view
Hurricane rear view photo

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 Mk I on the 1st January 1938 and by the end of January 1938 were completely re-equipped with the type. 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.

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.

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.

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

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 Mk IV on the 2nd September 1943.

In total 14,533 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 aeroplane image to view a larger version.

Max 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

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

Variant 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 I Eden Camp
Hurricane Mk IIB Imperial War Museum, Duxford
Hurricane Mk ? Jet Age Museum
Hurricane Mk I Kent Battle of Britain Museum
Hurricane Mk IIC RAF Manston Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum
Hurricane Mk I (C) Romney Marsh Wartime Collection
Hurricane Mk IIC Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford
Hurricane Mk I Royal Air Force Museum, London
Hurricane Mk I Science Museum
Hurricane Mk I Shuttleworth
Hurricane Mk I Tangmere Military Aviation Museum
Hurricane Mk IV Thinktank - Birmingham Science Museum
Hurricane Mk I Yorkshire Air Museum

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