Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat
fighter aircraft that was designed
and predominantly built by Hawker
Some production of the Hurricane was
carried out in Canada by the Canada Car and Foundry Co Ltd
Although largely overshadowed by the Supermarine Spitfire
, the aircraft
became renowned during the Battle of
The 1930s design evolved through several versions and adaptations,
resulting in a series of aircraft which acted as
interceptor-fighters, fighter-bombers (also called "Hurribombers"),
and ground support
Further versions known as the Sea Hurricane
had modifications which enabled operation from ships. Some were
converted as catapult-launched convoy escorts, known as
"Hurricats". Together with the Spitfire
, the Hurricane was significant
in enabling the Royal Air Force
(RAF) to win the Battle of Britain
of 1940, accounting for the majority of the RAF's air victories.
14,000 Hurricanes were built by the end of 1944 (including about
1,200 converted to Sea Hurricanes and some 1,400 built in Canada), and served
in all the major theatres of the Second
Design and development
H is for Hurricane, British
children's alphabet book from the Second World War
The Hurricane was developed by Hawker in response to the Air Ministry
(modified by F.5/34) for a fighter
aircraft built around the new Rolls-Royce
engine, then only known as
the PV-12, later to become famous as the Merlin
. At that time, RAF Fighter Command
comprised just 13
squadrons, each equipped with either the Hawker Fury
variant, or Bristol Bulldog
– all biplanes
wooden propellers and non-retractable
undercarriages. The design, started in early 1934, was the work of
Sydney Camm's original plans submitted in response to the Air
Ministry's specification were at first rejected (apparently "too
orthodox," even for the Air Ministry). Camm tore up the proposal
and set about designing a fighter as a Hawker private venture. With
economy in mind, the Hurricane was designed using as many existing
tools and jigs as possible (the aircraft was effectively a
monoplane version of the successful Hawker Fury); and it was these
factors that were major contributors to the aircraft's
Early design stages of the "Fury Monoplane" incorporated a Rolls-Royce Goshawk
engine, but this was
replaced shortly after by the Merlin, and featured a retractable
undercarriage. The design came to be known as the "Interceptor
Monoplane," and by May 1934, the plans had been completed in
test the new design, a one-tenth scale model was made and sent to
the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington.
A series of wind tunnel tests confirmed the
aerodynamic qualities of the design were in order, and by December
that year, a full size wooden mock-up of the aircraft had been
Construction of the first prototype, K5083
, began in
August 1935 incorporating the PV-12 Merlin engine. The completed sections
of the aircraft were taken to Brooklands, where Hawkers had an assembly shed, and
re-assembled on 23 October 1935.
Ground testing and taxi
trials took place over the following two weeks, and on 6 November
1935, the prototype took to the air for the first time, at the
hands of Hawker's chief test pilot, Flight Lieutenant
(later Group Captain
) P.W.S. Bulman
. Flight Lieutenant Bulman was
assisted by two other pilots in subsequent flight testing; Philip
Lucas flew some of the experimental test flights, while John Hindmarsh
conducted the firm's
production flight trials.
Though faster and more advanced than the RAF's current front line
biplane fighters, the Hurricane's design was already outdated when
introduced. It employed traditional Hawker construction techniques
from previous biplane aircraft, with mechanically fastened, rather
than welded joints. It had a Warren
-type fuselage of high-tensile steel tubes, over which
sat frames and longerons
that carried the
covering. An advantage conferred by the steel-tube structure was
that cannon shells could pass right through the wood and fabric
covering without exploding. Even if one of the steel tubes were
damaged the repair work required was relatively simple and could be
done by the groundcrew at the airfield. An all metal structure, as
with the Spitfire
, damaged by
an exploding cannon shell required more specialised equipment to
repair. The old-fashioned structure also permitted the assembly of
Hurricanes with relatively basic equipment under field conditions.
Crated Hurricanes were assembled in West Africa and flown across
the Sahara to the Middle East theatre, and to save space, some
Royal Navy aircraft carriers carried their reserve Sea Hurricanes
dismantled into their major assemblies, which were slung up on the
hangar bulkheads and deckhead for reassembly when needed.
Initially, the wing structure consisted of two steel spars, and was
also fabric-covered. Several fabric-wing Hurricanes were still in
service during the Battle of Britain, although a good number had
had their wings replaced during servicing or after repair. Changing
the wings only required three hours' work per aircraft. An
all-metal, stressed-skin wing of duraluminium
(a DERD specification similar to
AA2024) was introduced in April 1939 and was used for all of the
later marks. "The metal skinned wings allowed a diving speed that
was 80mph (129 km/h) higher than the fabric-covered ones. They were
very different in construction but were interchangeable with the
fabric-covered wings, and one trials Hurricane, L1877, was even
flown with a fabric-covered port wing and metal-covered starboard
wing. The great advantage of the metal-covered wings over the
fabric ones was that the metal ones could carry far greater stress
loads without needing so much structure beneath."
One of Camm's priorities with the new fighter was to provide the
pilot with good all round visibility. To this end the cockpit was
mounted reasonably high in the fuselage, creating a distinctive
"hump-backed" silhouette. Pilot access to the cockpit was aided by
a retractable "stirrup
" mounted below the
trailing edge of the port wing. This was linked to a spring-loaded
hinged flap which covered a handhold on the fuselage, just behind
the cockpit. When the flap was shut the footstep retracted into the
fuselage. In addition, both wingroots were coated with strips of
In contrast, the contemporary Spitfire used all-metal monocoque
construction and was thus both lighter
and stronger, though less tolerant to bullet damage. With its ease
of maintenance, widely set landing gear and benign flying
characteristics, the Hurricane remained in use in theatres of
operations where reliability, easy handling and a stable gun
platform were more important than performance, typically in roles
like ground attack. One of the design requirements of the original
specification was that the Hurricane, as well as the Spitfire, was
also to be used as a night-fighter. The Hurricane proved to be a
relatively simple aircraft to fly at night and was to be
instrumental in shooting down several German aircraft during the
nocturnal hours. From early 1941 the Hurricane would also be used
as an "intruder" aircraft, patrolling German airfields in France at
night in an attempt to catch night bombers during takeoffs or
[[Image:hurricane mkiic of the bbmf arp.jpg|thumb|right|The last
Hurricane ever built, of 14,533. A Mk IIc version,originally known
as "The Last of the Many" and owned by Hawker, this aircraft is now
flown by the Battle of
Britain Memorial Flight
The Hurricane was ordered into production in June 1936, mainly due
to its relatively simple construction and ease of manufacture. As
war was looking increasingly likely, and time was of the essence in
providing the RAF with an effective fighter aircraft, it was
unclear if the more advanced Spitfire would be able to enter
production smoothly, while the Hurricane used well-understood
manufacturing techniques. This was true for service squadrons as
well, who were experienced in working on and repairing aircraft
whose construction employed the same principles as the Hurricane,
and the simplicity of its design enabled the improvisation of some
remarkable repairs in Squadron workshops.
The maiden flight of the first production aircraft, powered by a
Merlin II engine, took place on 12 October 1937. The first four
aircraft to enter service with the RAF joined No. 111 Squadron
RAF at RAF
By the outbreak of the Second World War,
nearly 500 Hurricanes had been produced, and had equipped 18
During 1940, Lord
, who was the Minister of Aircraft
, established an organisation in which a number of
manufacturers were seconded to repair and overhaul battle damaged
Hurricanes. The "Civilian Repair Organisation". also overhauled
battle-weary aircraft, which were later sent to training units or
to other air forces; one of the factories involved was the Austin Aero Company
's Cofton Hackett plant
also built 300 Hurricanes. Another was David Rosenfield Ltd, based at
Barton aerodrome near Manchester.
In all, some 14,000 Hurricanes and Sea Hurricanes were produced.
The majority of Hurricanes were built by Hawker (which produced
them until 1944), with Hawker's sister company, the Gloster Aircraft Company
(2,750) most of the rest. As described, the Austin Aero Ltd built
300. Canada Car
and Foundry in Fort William, Ontario, Canada, (where the Chief Engineer, Elsie MacGill, became known as the "Queen of
the Hurricanes") was responsible for production of 1,400
Hurricanes, known as the Mk X.
In 1939, production of 100 Hurricanes was initiated in Yugoslavia
.Of these, 20 were built by
by April 1941. One of these was fitted
with a DB 601
A contract for 80 Hurricanes was placed with Fairey's Belgian
subsidiary Avions Fairey SA
Belgian Air Force
in 1938. Three
were built and two flown by the time of the Blitzkrieg
in May 1940.
Battle of France
response to a request from the French government for 10 fighter
squadrons to provide air support, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding,
Commander-in-Chief of RAF Fighter Command, insisted that this
number would deplete British defences severely, and so initially
only four squadrons of Hurricanes, 1, 73,
85 and 87, were relocated to France, keeping
Spitfires back for "Home" defence.
Sea Hurricane Mk IB in formation,
The first to arrive was
No.73 Squadron on 10 September 1939, followed shortly by the other
three. A little later, 607
In October 1939 a trainee pilot, Roland
, had his first flight in a Hurricane:
Then, with tail trimmer set, throttle and mixture lever
fully forward...and puffs of grey exhaust smoke soon clearing at
maximum r.p.m came the surprise!
There was no sudden surge of acceleration, but with a
thunderous roar from the exhausts just ahead on either side of the
windscreen, only a steady increase in speed...In retrospect that
first Hurricane sortie was a moment of elation, but also of
Apart from the new scale of speeds that the pilot had
to adapt to, the Hurricane had all the qualities of its stable,
secure biplane predecessor the Hart, but
enhanced by livlier controls, greater precision and all this
Beamont subsequently flew operationally with 87 Squadron, claiming
three enemy aircraft during the French campaign
Throughout the bad days of 1940, 87 Sqn had maintained
a proficient formation aerobatic team, the precise flying controls
and responsive engines permitting precision formation through
loops, barrel rolls, 1g semi-stall turns and rolls off
half-loops...My Hurricane was never hit in the Battles of France
and Britain, and in over 700 hr on type I never experienced an
In May the following year, 3, 79 and 504 Squadrons reinforced the
earlier units as Germany's Blitzkrieg
gathered momentum, and on 13 May
1940, a further 32 Hurricanes arrived. All 10 requested Hurricane
squadrons were then operating from French soil and felt the full
force of the Nazi offensive. By 17 May, the end of the first week
of fighting, only three of the squadrons were near operational
strength, but despite their heavy losses the Hurricanes had managed
to destroy nearly double the number of German aircraft.
Flying Officer E. J. "Cobber" Kain, a New Zealander, was responsible for 73 Squadron's first victory on
8 November 1939, while stationed at Rouvres.
He subsequently went on to become one of
the RAF's first fighter aces of the war, being credited with 16
kills. On 7 June 1940 Kain got word that he was to return to
England for "rest leave" at an OTU
; on leaving his airfield, he
put on an impromptu aerobatic display, and lost his life when his
Hurricane crashed after completing a loop
and attempting some low altitude
On 27 May 1940, 13 aircraft from 501 Squadron intercepted 24
Heinkel He 111s
escorted by 20
Messerschmitt Bf 110s
during the ensuing battle, 11 Heinkels were claimed as "kills" and
others damaged, with little damage to the Hurricanes.
Initial engagements with the Luftwaffe showed the Hurricane to be a
tight-turning and steady platform, but the Watts two-bladed
propeller was clearly unsuitable. At least one pilot complained of
how a Heinkel 111 was able to pull away from him in a chase, yet by
this time the Heinkel was obsolescent.
At the start of the war, the engine ran on the then-standard 87
octane aviation spirit
From early 1940, increasing quantities of 100 octane fuel -
imported from the U.S. - became available. In February 1940,
Hurricanes with the Merlin II and III engines began to receive
modifications to allow for an additional of supercharger
boost, for five minutes, (although
there are accounts of its use for 30 minutes continuously). The
increased supercharger boost, which increased engine output by
nearly , gave the Hurricane an approximate increase in speed of to
, under altitude, and greatly increased the aircraft's climb rate.
"Overboost" or "pulling the plug", a form of war emergency power
as it was called in
later Second World War aircraft, was an important wartime
modification that allowed the Hurricane to be more competitive
against the Bf 109E
increase its margin of superiority over the Bf 110C
, especially at low altitude.
With the +12 lbs./sq.inch "emergency boost", the Merlin III
was able to generate 1,310 hp (977 kW) at .
Flt Lt Ian
of 87 Squadron wrote about the effect of using the extra
boost on the Hurricane while chasing a Bf 109 at low altitude on 19
We're flat out as it is.
Here goes with the tit.
A jerk - boost's shot up to 12 pounds; speed's
increased by 30 mph.
I'm gaining ground - 700, 600, 500 yards.
Give him a burst.
No, hold your fire you fool!
He hasn't seen you yet...
Gleed ran out of ammunition before he could shoot the 109 down
although he left it heavily damaged and flying at about 50
Hurricanes equipped from the outset with Rotol
constant-speed propellers were delivered
to RAF squadrons in May 1940, with deliveries continuing throughout
the Battle of Britain; the Rotol propeller transformed the
Hurricane's performance from "disappointing" to one of "acceptable
mediocrity", and modified aircraft were certainly much sought after
among squadrons equipped with aircraft having the older de
Havilland two-position propeller.
Battle of Britain
At the end of June 1940, following the fall of France, the majority
of the RAF's 36 fighter squadrons were equipped with Hurricanes.
The Battle of Britain
lasted from 10 July until 31 October 1940, but the heaviest
fighting took place between 8 August and 21 September. Both the
Supermarine Spitfire and the Hurricane are renowned for their part
in defending Britain against the Luftwaffe
— generally the Spitfire would
intercept the German fighters, leaving Hurricanes to concentrate on
the bombers, but despite the undoubted abilities of the
"thoroughbred" Spitfire, it was the "workhorse" Hurricane that
scored the highest number of RAF victories during this period,
accounting for 1,593 of the 2,739 claimed.
As a fighter, the Hurricane had some drawbacks. It was slower than
both the Spitfire I and II and the Messerschmitt Bf 109E, and the
thick wings compromised acceleration, but it could out-turn both of
them. In spite of its performance deficiencies against the Bf 109
the Hurricane was still capable of destroying the German fighter,
especially when the fighting occurred at lower altitudes. The
standard tactic of the 109s was to attempt to climb higher than the
RAF fighters and "bounce" them in a dive; the Hurricanes could
evade such tactics by turning into the attack or going into a
"corkscrew dive", which the 109s, with their lower rate of roll,
found hard to counter. If a 109 was caught in a dogfight, the
Hurricane was just as capable of out-turning the 109 as the
Spitfire. In a stern chase, the 109 could easily evade the
Hurricane. In September 1940 the more powerful Mk IIa series 1
Hurricanes started entering service although only in small numbers.
This version was capable of a maximum speed of 342 mph.
The Hurricane was a steady gun platform, and had demonstrated its
ruggedness, as several had been badly damaged, yet returned to
base. But, whilst it was sturdy and stable, the Hurricane's
construction had made it dangerous in the event of the aircraft
catching fire; the wood frames and fabric covering of the rear
fuselage meant that fire could spread through the rear fuselage
structure quite easily. In addition the gravity fuel tank in the
forward fuselage sat right in front of the instrument panel,
without any form of protection between it and the pilot. Many
Hurricane pilots were seriously burned as a consequence of a jet of
flame which could burn through the instrument panel. This became of
such concern to Hugh Dowding
had Hawker retrofit the fuselage tanks of the Hurricanes with a
fire-resistant material called Linatex. Some Hurricane pilots also
felt that the fuel tanks in the wings, which although they were
protected with a layer of Linatex, were vulnerable from behind and
it was thought that these, not the fuselage tank, were the main
One lesson learned in combat had been that even eight .303
machine guns would not guarantee a
successful kill in the fast-moving air combats that were taking
place.In spite of this, during the month from 10 July to 11 August,
for example, RAF fighters fired at 114 German bombers and shot down
80, a destruction ratio of 70%. Against the Bf 109, the RAF
fighters attacked 70 and shot down 54 of these, a ratio of 77%.
Part of the success of the British fighters was possibly due to the
use of the de Wilde incendiary round.
As in the Spitfire, the Merlin engine suffered from negative-G
cut-out, a problem not cured until the introduction of the Miss Shilling's orifice
The only Battle of Britain Victoria
, and the only VC awarded to a member of Fighter Command
during the war, was awarded to Flight Lieutenant Eric Nicolson
of 249 Squadron
as a result of an action
on 16 August 1940 when his section of three Hurricanes was
"bounced" from above by Bf 110 fighters. All three were hit
simultaneously. Nicolson was badly wounded, and his Hurricane was
damaged and engulfed in flames. While attempting to leave the
cockpit, Nicolson noticed that one of the Bf 110s had overshot his
aircraft. He returned to the cockpit, which by now was a blazing
inferno, engaged the enemy, and may have shot the Bf 110
Night fighters and Intruders
Following the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane continued to give
service, and through the Blitz
was the principal single-seat night fighter in Fighter Command.
F/Lt. Richard Stevens claimed 14 Luftwaffe
Hurricanes in 1941.
1942 saw the cannon-armed Mk IIc perform further afield in the
night intruder role over occupied Europe. F/Lt. Karel Kuttelwascher
of 1 Squadron
proved the top scorer, with 15
bombers claimed shot down.
The Hurricane Mk II was hastily tropicalised
's entry into the
war in June 1940. These aircraft were initially ferried through
France by air to 80 Squadron
Egypt to replace Gladiators
Hurricane claimed its first kill in the Mediterranean on 19 June
1940, when F/O P.G. Wykeham-Barnes reported shooting down two
Hurricanes served with several British Commonwealth squadrons in
the Desert Air Force
. They suffered
heavy losses over North Africa after the arrival of Bf 109E and
F-variants and were progressively replaced in the air superiority
role from June 1941 by Curtiss
. However, fighter-bomber variants
("Hurribombers") retained an edge in the ground attack role, due to
their impressive armament of four 20 mm (.79 in) cannon
and a bombload.
and following the five-day El Alamein artillery barrage that commenced on the night of 23
October 1942, six squadrons of Hurricanes claimed to have destroyed
39 tanks, 212 lorries and armoured troop-carriers, 26 bowsers, 42 guns, 200 various other vehicles
and four small fuel and ammunition dumps, flying 842 sorties with
the loss of 11 pilots. Whilst performing in a ground support role,
Hurricanes based at RAF Castel Benito, Tripoli, knocked out six tanks, 13 armoured vehicles, ten
lorries, five half-tracks, a gun and
trailer, and a wireless van on 10 March 1943, with no losses to
Defence of Malta
The Hurricane played a significant role in the defence of Malta
. When Italy entered the
war on 10 June 1940, Malta's air defence rested on Gloster Gladiators which managed to hold
out against vastly superior numbers of the Italian air force during
the following three weeks.
(According to myth, after the
first one was lost, the remaining three were named “Faith, Hope and
Charity”; in reality, there were at least six Gladiators.) Four
Hurricanes joined them at the end of June, and together they faced
attacks throughout July from the 200 enemy aircraft based in
, with the loss of one Gladiator and
one Hurricane. Further reinforcements arrived on 2 August in the
form of 12 more Hurricanes and two Blackburn Skuas
The increasing number of British aircraft on the island, at last,
prompted the Italians to employ German Junkers Ju 87
dive bombers to try and destroy
the airfields. Finally, in an attempt to overcome the stiff
resistance put up by these few aircraft, the Luftwaffe
took up base on the Sicilian airfields, only to find that Malta was
not an easy target. After numerous attacks on the island over the
following months, and the arrival of an extra 23 Hurricanes at the
end of April 1941, and a further delivery a month later, the
Luftwaffe left Sicily for the Russian Front
in June that
As Malta was situated on the increasingly important sea supply
route for the North African
, the Luftwaffe
returned with a vengeance for
a second assault on the island at the beginning of 1942.
It wasn't until March, when the onslaught was at its height, that
15 Spitfires flew in off the carrier to join with the Hurricanes
already stationed there and bolster the defence, but many of the
new aircraft were lost on the ground and it was again the Hurricane
that bore the brunt of the early fighting until further
reinforcements arrived. In relation to this second intensive
assault on Malta, Wing Commander P.B.
is quoted as
Air defence in Russia
Hurricanes played an important air defence role in 1941, when the
Union found itself under threat from the German Army
approaching on a broad front stretching from Leningrad, Moscow, and to the
oil fields in the south. Britain's decision to aid the Soviets meant
sending supplies by sea to the far northern ports, and as the
convoys would need to sail within range of enemy air attack from
the Luftwaffe based in neighbouring Finland, it was decided to deliver a number of Hurricane Mk
IIBs, flying with Nos.
81 and 134 Squadrons of No. 151 Wing
, to provide protection. Twenty-four were transported on the carrier Argus, arriving just off Murmansk on 28 August 1941, and another 15 crated aircraft
on board merchant vessels.
In addition to their convoy
protection duties, the aircraft also acted as escorts to Russian
bombers. Enemy attention to the area declined in October, at which
point the RAF pilots trained their Soviet counterparts to operate
the Hurricanes themselves. By the end of the year, the RAF's role
had ended, but the aircraft remained behind and became the first of
thousands of Allied aircraft that were accepted by the Soviet
Burma, Singapore and the Dutch East Indies
the outbreak of war with Japan, 51
Hurricane Mk IIs were sent in crates to Singapore, with 24 pilots, the nucleus of five
They arrived on 3 January 1942, by which time the
Allied fighter squadrons in Singapore, flying Brewster Buffalos
, had been overwhelmed in
the Malayan campaign
. The Imperial Japanese Army Air
's fighter force, especially the Nakajima Ki-43
, had been underestimated in
its capability, numbers and the strategy of its commanders.
Arriving by sea in crates, 51 Hurricanes were assembled in 48 hours
and ready for testing. Twenty-one were ready for service within
three days, thanks to the efforts of the 151st Maintenance unit.
The Hurricanes suffered in performance. The crews equipped them
with 12, rather than eight machine guns. This made them slow to
climb and unwieldy to manoeuvre, although they were more effective
The recently-arrived pilots were formed into 232 Squadron
. In addition, 488 Squadron
, a Buffalo squadron,
converted to Hurricanes. On 18 January, the two squadrons formed
the basis of 226 Group
Squadron became operational on 20 January and suffered the first
losses and victories for the Hurricane in East Asia.
27 and 30 January, another 48 Hurricanes (Mk IIA) arrived with the
aircraft carrier , from which they flew to airfields code-named P1
and P2, near Palembang, Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies.
Because of inadequate early warning systems, Japanese air raids
were able to destroy 30 Hurricanes on the ground in Sumatra, most
of them in one raid on 7 February. After Japanese landings in
Singapore, on 10 February, the remnants of 232 and 488
Squadrons were withdrawn to Palembang.
paratroopers began the invasion of
on 13 February. Hurricanes destroyed six Japanese
on 14 February, but
lost seven aircraft in the process. On 18 February, the remaining Allied
aircraft and aircrews moved to Java.
this time, only 18 serviceable Hurricanes remained out of the
After Java was invaded
, some of the
pilots were evacuated by sea to Australia. One aircraft which had
not been assembled, was transferred to the RAAF, becoming the only
Hurricane to see service in Australia, with training and other
Hurricane Mk I (R4118
Hawker Hurricane Mk IIB
Hawker Hurricane Mk IV KZ321
(The Fighter Collection)
Hurricane Mk IV, armed with RP-3
Canadian-built Hurricane Mk XII
painted to represent Hurricane Mk IIB Z5140 of 126 Squadron
- Hurricane Mk I
- First production version, with fabric-covered wings, a wooden
two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller, powered by the 1,030 hp
(768 kW) Rolls-Royce
Merlin Mk II or III engines and
armed with eight .303 in (7.7 mm)
Browning machine guns.
Produced between 1937 and 1939.
- Hurricane Mk I (revised)
- A revised Hurricane Mk I series built with a de Havilland or Rotol constant speed metal propeller,
metal-covered wings, armour and other improvements. In 1939, the
RAF had taken on about 500 of this later design to form the
backbone of the fighter squadrons.
- Hurricane Mk IIA Series 1
- Hurricane Mk I powered by the improved Merlin XX engine. This
new engine used a mix of 30 per cent gycol and 70 per cent water.
Pure glycol is flammable, so not only was the new mix safer, but
the engine also ran approximately 70°C cooler, which gave longer
engine life and greater reliability. The new engine was longer than
the earlier Merlin and so the Hurricane gained a 4.5 in "plug" in
front of the cockpit, which made the aircraft slightly more stable
due to the slight forward shift in centre of gravity. First flew on
11 June 1940 and went into squadron service in September 1940.
- Hurricane Mk IIB (Hurricane IIA Series 2)
- The Hurricane II B were fitted with racks allowing them to
carry two 250 lb or two 500 lb bombs. This lowered the top speed of
the Hurricane to 301 mph (484 km/h), but by this point mixed sweeps
of Hurricanes protected by a fighter screen of Hurricanes were not
uncommon. The same racks would allow the Hurricane to carry either
two 45-gallon (205 l) drop tanks, more than doubling the
Hurricane's fuel load.
- Hurricane Mk IIA Series 2 was equipped with new and slightly
longer propeller spinner and new wing mounting 12 .303 in
(7.7 mm) Browning machine guns. The first aircraft were built
in October 1940 and were renamed Mark IIB in April
- Hurricane Mk IIB Trop.
- For use in North Africa the Hawker Hurricane Mk IIB (and other
variants) were tropicalised. They were fitted with Vokes and Rolls
Royce engine dust filters and the pilots were issued with a desert
survival kit, including a bottle of water behind the cockpit.
- Hurricane Mk IIC (Hurricane Mk IIA Series 2)
- Hurricane Mk IIA Series 1 equipped with new and slightly longer
propeller spinner and new wing mounting four 20 mm
(.79 in) Hispano Mk II
cannons. Hurricane IIA Series 2 became the Mk IIC in June 1941,
using a slightly modified wing. The new wings also included a
hardpoint for a or bomb, and later in 1941, fuel tanks. By then
performance was inferior to the latest German fighters, and the
Hurricane changed to the ground-attack role, sometimes
referred to as the Hurribomber. The mark also
served as a night fighter and
- Hurricane Mk IID
- Hurricane Mk IIB conversion armed with two 40 mm
(1.57 in) AT cannons in a pod under each wing and a single
Browning machine gun in each wing loaded with tracers for aiming
purposes. The first aircraft flew on 18 September 1941 and
deliveries started in 1942. Serial built aircraft had additional
armour for the pilot, radiator and engine, and were armed with a
Rolls-Royce gun with 12 rounds, later changed to the 40 mm
(1.57 in) Vickers S gun with 15
rounds. The outer wing attachments were strengthened so that 4G
could be pulled at a weight of 8,540 lb (3,874 kg). The weight of
guns and armour protection marginally impacted the aircraft's
performance. These Hurricanes were nicknamed "Flying Can Openers",
perhaps a play on the No. 6 Squadron's logo which flew the
Hurricane starting in 1941.
- Hurricane Mk IIE
- Another wing modification was introduced in the Mk
IIE, but the changes became extensive enough that it was
renamed the Mk IV after the first 250 had been
- Hurricane Mk T.IIC
- Two-seat training version of the Mk. IIC. Only two aircraft
were built for the Persian Air
- Hurricane Mk III
- Version of the Hurricane Mk II powered by a Packard-built Merlin engine, intending to provide
supplies of the British-built engines for other designs. By the
time production was to have started, Merlin production had
increased to the point where the idea was abandoned.
- Hurricane Mk IV
- The last major change to the Hurricane was the introduction of
the "universal Wing", a single design able to mount two
250 lbs or 500 lbs (110 or 230 kg) bombs, two
40 mm (1.57 in) Vickers S guns, drop tanks or eight
"60 pounder" RP-3 rockets. Two .303 in
Brownings were fitted to aid aiming of the heavier armament. The
new design also incorporated the improved Merlin 24 or 27 engines
of 1,620 hp (1,208 kW), equipped with dust filters for
desert operations. The Merlin 27 had a redesigned oil system that
was better suited to operations in the tropics, and which was rated
at a slightly lower altitude in keeping with the Hurricane's new
role as a close-support fighter. The radiator was deeper and
armoured. Additional armour was also fitted around the engine.
- Hurricane Mk V
- The final variant to be produced. Only three were built and it
never reached production. This was powered by a Merlin 32 boosted
engine to give 1,700 hp at low level and was intended as a
dedicated ground-attack plane to use in Burma. All three prototypes
had four-bladed propellers. Speed was 326 mph (525 km/h)
at 500 ft, which is comparable with the Hurricane I despite
being one and a half times as heavy.
- Hurricane Mk X
- Canadian-built variant. Single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber.
Powered by a 1,300 hp (969 kW) Packard Merlin 28. Eight
0.303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns mounted in the wings. In
total, 490 were built.
- Hurricane Mk XI
- Canadian-built variant. 150 were built.
- Hurricane Mk XII
- Canadian-built variant. Single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber.
Powered by a 1,300 hp (969 kW) Packard Merlin 29.
Initially armed with 12 0.303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns,
but this was later changed to four 20 mm (.79 in)
- Hurricane Mk XIIA
- Canadian-built variant. Single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber.
Powered by a 1,300 hp (969 kW) Packard Merlin 29, armed
with eight 0.303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns.
- Sea Hurricane Mk IA
- The Sea Hurricane Mk IA was a Hurricane Mk I modified by
General Aircraft Limited.
These conversions numbered approximately 250 aircraft. They were
modified to be carried by CAM ships
(catapult armed merchantman), whose crews were entirely civilians
and whose Hurricanes were crewed and serviced by RAF personnel, or
Fighter Catapult Ships, which were Naval Auxiliary Vessels crewed
by Naval personnel whose aircraft were operate by the Fleet Air
Arm. These were cargo ships equipped with a catapult for launching
an aircraft, but without facilities to recover them. Thus, if the
aircraft were not in range of a land base, pilots were forced to
bail out or to ditch.
- Both of these options had their problems - there was always a
chance of striking part of the fuselage when bailing out and a
number of pilots had been killed in this way. On the other hand,
ditching the Hurricane was problematic too. The radiator housing
acted as a water brake, pitching the nose of the fighter downwards
when it hit the water, while also acting as very efficient scoop,
helping to flood the inside of the the Hurricane so that a quick
exit was advisable before the plane sank. Then the pilot had to be
picked up by the ship. In all, more than eighty modifications were
needed to convert a Hurricane into a Sea Hurricane, including new
radios to conform with those used by the Fleet Air Arm and new
instrumentation to read in knots rather than miles per hour. They
were informally known as "Hurricats".
- The majority of the aircraft modified had suffered
wear-and-tear from serving with front line squadrons, so much so
that at least one example used during trials broke up under the
stress of a catapult launching. A total of 50 aircraft were
converted from Hurricane Mk Is.
- Sea Hurricane Mk IB
- Hurricane Mk IIA Series 2 version equipped with catapult spools
plus an arrester hook. From October 1941, they were used on
Merchant aircraft carrier
(MAC ships), which were large cargo vessels with a flight deck
enabling aircraft to be launched and recovered. A total of
340 aircraft were converted.
- Sea Hurricane Mk IC
- Hurricane Mk IIB and Mk IIC version equipped with catapult
spools, an arrester hook and the four-cannon wing. From February
1942, 400 aircraft were converted.
- Sea Hurricane Mk IIC
- Hurricane Mk IIC version equipped with naval radio gear; 400
aircraft were converted and used on fleet carriers.
- Sea Hurricane Mk XIIA
- Canadian-built Hurricane Mk XIIA converted into Sea
- Hillson F.40 (a.k.a. F.H.40)
- A full-scale version of the Hills & Son
"Bi-Mono" slip-wing Biplane/monoplane, using a Hawker
Hurricane Mk I returned from Canada as RCAF ser no 321 (RAF serial
L1884). Taxi and flight trials carried out at
Sealand during May 1943, and at A.&A.E.E.,(Aeroplane and Armament
Experimental Establishment), Boscombe Down from September
1943. The upper wing was not released in flight before the
programme was terminated due to poor performance.
- Hurricane Photo Reconnaissance
- In Egypt, the Service Depot at Heliopolis converted some
Hurricanes Is for the role. The first three were converted in
January 1941. Two carried a pair of F24 cameras with 8in focal
length lenses and the third a vertical and two oblique F24s with 14
in focal length lenses mounted in the rear fuselage, close to the
trailing edge of the wing and a fairing was built up over the
lenses aft of the radiator housing. A further five Hurricanes were
modified in March 1941, while two were converted in a similar
manner in Malta during April 1941. During October 1941, a batch of
six Hurricane IIs was converted to PR Mark II status, and a final
batch, thought to be of 12 aircraft, was converted in late 1941.
The PR Mark II was said to be capable of slightly over 350 mph
(563 km/h) and was able to reach 38,000 ft
- Hurrican Tac R
- For duties closer to the front lines, some Hurricanes were
converted to Tactical Reconnaissance (Tac R) aircraft. An
additional radio was fitted for liaison with ground forces who were
better placed to direct the Hurricane. Some Hurricane Tac R
aircraft also had a vertical camera fitted in the rear fuselage, so
to compensate for the extra weight either one or two Brownings or
two cannons would be omitted. Externally, these aircraft were only
distinguishable by the missing armament.
The Hawker Hurricane, due to its rugged construction and ease of
maintenance, enjoyed a long operational life in all theatres of
war, flown by both the Axis
and Allies. It served in
the air forces of many countries, some "involuntarily" as in the
case of Hurricanes which either landed accidentally or force-landed
in neutral countries.
Of the 14,000 Hurricanes that were built only 12 survive in
airworthy condition worldwide, although some museums have a few
examples on static display.
Specifications (Hurricane Mk.IIC)
- Bader 2004, p. 36.
- Cacutt 1989, pp. 204–212.
- Bader 2004, pp. 37, 40.
- Flight 1938, pp. 467-472.
- "Best of Battle of Britain." Air & Space
February–March 2008, p. 4.
- Hiscock 2003, p. 12.
- Bader 2004, p. 41.
- "History of R4118."
ferrarifunday.co.uk, 21 March 2008. Retrieved: 25 August
- Unreal aircraft
- Prototype aircraft: The Hawker F.36/34 "Interceptor
Monoplane" Hurricane. Retrieved: 5 March 2009.
- Beamont January 1994, pp. 17, 18.
- Beamont January 1994, p. 19.
- Burns 1992, pp. 56-57.
- Burns 1992, pp. 165-167.
- Bader 2004, pp. 50–55.
- Wood and Dempster 1990, p. 87.
- National Archives AVIA 10/282 Minutes of Oil Policy
Committee meetings (2 April, 18 May, 7 August 1940) Retrieved:
15 June 2009.
- Gleed 1942, p. 61.
- Harvey-Bailey 1995, p. 155.
- Note: This was the pilot's term for the Boost Cut-Out Control
which was adjacent to the throttle lever.
- Note: Gleed rose through the ranks to become a Wing Commander
flying Spitfire VBs over North Africa; he was shot down and killed
Reinert on 16 April 1943. Gleed was
credited with 15 victories.
- Donald 1999, p. 38.
- Bungay 2000, pp. 264–267.
- Ramsay 1989, pp. 415, 516, 526, 796.
- Mason 1991, pp. 279, 300.
- Bungay 2000, p. 82.
- Bungay 2000, pp. 77, 197–198.
- Bungay 2000, p. 198.
- Bungay 2000, pp. 200–201.
- Ramsay 1989, p. 306.
- Ramsay 1989, pp. 306-313, 362.
- Note: As far as can be determined, no Messerschmitt Bf 110
crashes on land for 16 August 1940 can be attributed to Nicholson,
although Nicholson himself believed the 110 had crashed into the
sea. Ramsay 1989, p. 311.
- Bader 2004, pp. 165–167.
- Shores et al. 1987, pp. 43–47. Note: This was code-named
Operation Hurry. These aircraft were flown off the carrier
- Bader 2004, pp. 125–127.
- Bader 2004, pp. 147–155.
- Bader 2004, pp. 135–137.
- Cull and Sortehaug 2004
- Shores 1992, p. 297.
- Hiscock 2003, p. 16.
- Hiscock 2003, p. 18.
- Hiscock 2003, p. 19.
- Hiscock 2003, p. 17.
- Mason 1991, p. 285.
- Hiscock 2003, p. 20.
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Spitfire and Hurricane. London: Cassell Military Books, 2004.
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Baptism." Aeroplane Monthly magazine, Volume 22, No. 1,
Issue 249, January 1994. London: IPC Magazines Limited.
- Beamont, Roland. "Hurricane Testing." Aeroplane
Monthly magazine, Volume 22, No. 2, Issue 250, February 1994.
London: IPC Magazines Limited.
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Milano Edizioni E.C.A., 2000.
- Boyne, Walter J. Scontro di
Ali - L'aviazione militare nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale (in
Italian). Milano: Mursia, 1997. ISBN 88-425-2256-2.
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Ltd., 1974. ISBN 0-7110-0665-2.
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Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946. ISBN
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Collection. Auckland, NZ: Reed Books, 2000. ISBN
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Aurum Press, 2000. ISBN 1-85410-721-6.
- Burns, Michael G. Cobber Kain. Auckland, New Zealand:
Random Century, 1992. ISBN 0-95836-932-1.
- Cacutt, Len, ed. “Hawker Hurricane.” Great Aircraft of the
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Story of Faith, Hope and Charity. Malta: Wise Owl Publication,
2008. ISBN 978-99932-92-78-4.
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Singapore: RAF, RNZAF and Nei Fighters in Action Against the
Japanese Over the Island and the Netherlands East Indies, 1942
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- Donald, David. The Military Propeller Aircraft Guide.
London: Chartwell Books, Inc., 1999. ISBN 0-7858-1023-4.
- Deighton, Len. Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of
Britain. New York: Ballantine Books, 1977. ISBN
- De Marchi, Italo. Fiat CR.42 Falco. Modena: Stem
Mucchi Editore, 1994.
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Gladiator (Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 25) (bilingual
Finnish/English). Espoo, Finland: Kari Stenman, 2005. ISBN
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