-The Hawker Hurricane-
The hurricane will forever be known for its contribution it made during the Battle of Britain.
The Hurricane rather than the more glamorous Spitfire was equipped with more operational
units and gained more kills than all other aircraft and ground defences combined. In 1934 the
Air Ministry expressed a interest in a 8 gun monoplane fighter. Anticipating the need for such
an aircraft, Hawker's chief designer Sidney Camm had already been working on such an
aircraft. The Rolls Royce Merline engine was crucial in providing the power that the Hurricane
needed. That and also the brillant design produced a aircraft that the Air Ministry wrote a new
specification around. The prototype flew on November 6, 1935 and the official trials were
flownin the Spring of 1936. During the trials the Hurricane exceeded in all performance
predictions and presented a massive increse in capabilities compared to the curent aging
bi-plane figter force. What also impressed the Air Ministry was how easily the 8 0.303-in
machine guns installed in to the wings. These two factors persuadd the Air Ministry to order
600 of the new monoplane aircraft in the summer of 1936. Two years after the first initial trials
of the prototype Hurricanes took to the air off the production line in October 1937.
When war broke out in September of 1939 the Hurricane MKI was Britains Fighter
Command's most important asset with 19 squadrons fully equipped. Squadrons 1, 73, 85, and
87 were immediately dispatched to France. On October 30th a Hurricane from the NO 1
squadron scored the first kill on a Dornier DO 17(German twin engined bomber). Action for
the Hurricane pilots was sporadic during he next seven months of the war. All of that changed
of course with the German invasion of france and the low countries. Five other hurricane
squadrons were committed in mid May and ferocious fighting took place against the
advancing German war machine. Despite high victory totals losses were also very high.
Sometimes bases had to be moved within a matter of days and unserviceability rates was
alarmingly high. By the end of May the surviving Hurricanes were recalled to UK to support
the evacuation of Dunkirk. After the Battle of Britain by that time the RAf had 32 operational
squadrons at their disposal and also 19 squadrons of Spitfires. This combined with a series of
secret radar stations would alert the RAf of approaching Luftwaffe bombers over the English
channel. Charge in this task was the Spitfire and the Hurricane. More than about three times
a day the squadrons launched to interdept German bombers and their fighter escorts. The
faster and more manouverable Spitfires were tasked with destroying the fighter escorts while
the Huricane were left to destroy the bombers.
Following the MK I, the MK II was introduced with a Merlin XX engine and was produced with
4 variants each with diffrent gun armaments. Countless times the MK II's proved themselves
in many campaigns from the Balkans, North Africa, and the defense of Crete. In North Africa
however the success of the groun attack role against tanks and convoys prompted the
introduction of he tank busting MK IID, fitted with 2 40mm cannons. The MK IID's could
destroy any German armoured unit and caused mass destruction of Rommel's tank corps
during the Allies final advance. The Royal Navy also used the aircraft launched from escort
carriers and converted merchant ships. The aircraft served in the North Atlantic and
Mediterranean theatres also with moderate success.
Hurricane MK I
Hurricane MK IID
The Hawker Hurricane MK 1 Stats
Type: Single-seat fighter
Length: 31' 4"
Height: 13' 1"
Weight empty: 4,734 lbs.
Engine: One 1,030 hp Rolls Royce Merlin II.
Armament: 8 X 0.303-in (7.7-mm) machine guns mounted in outer wings.
Maximum speed: 318 mph
Range: 525 miles
Surface ceiling: 33,400 ft
The Hawker Hurricane MK IIC Stats
Type: Single-seat fighter
Length: 32' 3"
Height: 13' 3"
Weight empty: 5,658 lbs.
Engine: One 1,280 hp Rolls Royce Merlin XX.
Armament: 4 X 20mm cannons in each wing plus up to 1,000-lbs of bombs beneath the wing.
Maximum speed: 329 mph
Range: 920 miles
Surface ceiling: 35,600 ft