Hawker Hurricane
Overview
 

The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd
Hawker Aircraft
Hawker Aircraft Limited was a British aircraft manufacturer responsible for some of the most famous products in British aviation history.-History:...

 for the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF). Although largely overshadowed by the Supermarine Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

, the aircraft became renowned during the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

, accounting for 60% of the RAF's air victories in the battle, and served in all the major theatres of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

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
Close air support
In military tactics, close air support is defined as air action by fixed or rotary winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly forces, and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.The determining factor for CAS is...

 aircraft.
Encyclopedia

The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd
Hawker Aircraft
Hawker Aircraft Limited was a British aircraft manufacturer responsible for some of the most famous products in British aviation history.-History:...

 for the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF). Although largely overshadowed by the Supermarine Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

, the aircraft became renowned during the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

, accounting for 60% of the RAF's air victories in the battle, and served in all the major theatres of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

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
Close air support
In military tactics, close air support is defined as air action by fixed or rotary winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly forces, and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.The determining factor for CAS is...

 aircraft. 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". More than 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 by the Canada Car and Foundry).

Origins

The Hurricane was developed by Hawker in response to the Air Ministry specification F.36/34 (modified by F.5/34) for a fighter aircraft built around the new Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce Limited
Rolls-Royce Limited was a renowned British car and, from 1914 on, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904....

 engine, then only known as the PV-12, later to become famous as the Merlin
Rolls-Royce Merlin
The Rolls-Royce Merlin is a British liquid-cooled, V-12, piston aero engine, of 27-litre capacity. Rolls-Royce Limited designed and built the engine which was initially known as the PV-12: the PV-12 became known as the Merlin following the company convention of naming its piston aero engines after...

. At that time, RAF Fighter Command
RAF Fighter Command
RAF Fighter Command was one of three functional commands of the Royal Air Force. It was formed in 1936 to allow more specialised control of fighter aircraft. It served throughout the Second World War, gaining recognition in the Battle of Britain. The Command continued until 17 November 1943, when...

 comprised just 13 squadrons, each equipped with either the Hawker Fury
Hawker Fury
The Hawker Fury was a British biplane fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force in the 1930s. It was originally named the Hornet and was the counterpart to the Hawker Hart light bomber.-Design and development:...

, Hawker Hart
Hawker Hart
The Hawker Hart was a British two-seater biplane light bomber of the Royal Air Force , which had a prominent role during the RAF's inter-war period. The Hart was designed during the 1920s by Sydney Camm and built by Hawker Aircraft...

 variant, or Bristol Bulldog
Bristol Bulldog
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Andrews, C.F. The Bristol Bulldog . Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1965.* Barnes, C.H. Bristol Aircraft Since 1910. London: Putnam, 1964....

 – all biplane
Biplane
A biplane is a fixed-wing aircraft with two superimposed main wings. The Wright brothers' Wright Flyer used a biplane design, as did most aircraft in the early years of aviation. While a biplane wing structure has a structural advantage, it produces more drag than a similar monoplane wing...

s with fixed-pitch
Blade pitch
Blade pitch or simply pitch refers to turning the angle of attack of the blades of a propeller or helicopter rotor into or out of the wind to control the production or absorption of power. Wind turbines use this to adjust the rotation speed and the generated power...

 wooden propellers and non-retractable undercarriages. The design, started in early 1934, was the work of Sydney Camm.

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 success.

Early design stages of the "Fury Monoplane" incorporated a Rolls-Royce Goshawk
Rolls-Royce Goshawk
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9...

 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 detail. To test the new design, a one-tenth scale model was made and sent to the National Physical Laboratory
National Physical Laboratory, UK
The National Physical Laboratory is the national measurement standards laboratory for the United Kingdom, based at Bushy Park in Teddington, London, England. It is the largest applied physics organisation in the UK.-Description:...

 at Teddington
Teddington
Teddington is a suburban area in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in south west London, on the north bank of the River Thames, between Hampton Wick and Twickenham. It stretches inland from the River Thames to Bushy Park...

. 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 created.

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
Brooklands
Brooklands was a motor racing circuit and aerodrome built near Weybridge in Surrey, England. It opened in 1907, and was the world's first purpose-built motorsport venue, as well as one of Britain's first airfields...

, 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
Flight Lieutenant
Flight lieutenant is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries. It ranks above flying officer and immediately below squadron leader. The name of the rank is the complete phrase; it is never shortened to "lieutenant"...

 (later Group Captain
Group Captain
Group captain is a senior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many other Commonwealth countries. It ranks above wing commander and immediately below air commodore...

) 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
John Stuart Hindmarsh
John Stuart Hindmarsh , also known as Johnny Hindmarsh, was an English racecar driver and aviator.Hindmarsh was educated at Sherborne, Dorset and then attended the Royal Military College...

 conducted the firm's production flight trials. Sammy Wroath, later to be the founding Commandant of the Empire Test Pilot School, was the RAF test pilot for the Hurricane and his enthusiastic endorsement helped get it into production.

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 girder
Girder
A girder is a support beam used in construction. Girders often have an I-beam cross section for strength, but may also have a box shape, Z shape or other forms. Girder is the term used to denote the main horizontal support of a structure which supports smaller beams...

-type fuselage of high-tensile steel tubes, over which sat frames and longeron
Longeron
In aircraft construction, a longeron or stringer or stiffener is a thin strip of wood, metal or carbon fiber, to which the skin of the aircraft is fastened. In the fuselage, longerons are attached to formers and run the longitudinal direction of the aircraft...

s that carried the doped
Aircraft dope
thumb|right|[[United Kingdom military aircraft serials|2699]] a [[World War I]] [[Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2]] finished in a clear dopeAircraft dope is a plasticised lacquer that is applied to fabric-covered aircraft...

 linen
Linen
Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather....

 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 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 duralumin
Duralumin
Duralumin is the trade name of one of the earliest types of age-hardenable aluminium alloys. The main alloying constituents are copper, manganese, and magnesium. A commonly used modern equivalent of this alloy type is AA2024, which contains 4.4% copper, 1.5% magnesium, 0.6% manganese and 93.5%...

ium (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 80 mph (130 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 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
Stirrup
A stirrup is a light frame or ring that holds the foot of a rider, attached to the saddle by a strap, often called a stirrup leather. Stirrups are usually paired and are used to aid in mounting and as a support while using a riding animal...

" 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 non-slip material.

In contrast, the contemporary Spitfire used all-metal monocoque
Monocoque
Monocoque is a construction technique that supports structural load by using an object's external skin, as opposed to using an internal frame or truss that is then covered with a non-load-bearing skin or coachwork...

 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 landings.

Production

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 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 Hurricane was also significantly cheaper than the Spitfire, requiring 10,300 man hours to produce rather than 15,200 for the Spitfire.

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
No. 111 Squadron RAF
No. 111 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operated the Panavia Tornado F3 from RAF Leuchars, Scotland until March 2011, when the squadron was disbanded, ending the Tornado F3's RAF service.-In World War I:...

 at RAF Northolt
RAF Northolt
RAF Northolt is a Royal Air Force station situated in South Ruislip, east by northeast of Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon, West London. Approximately north of London Heathrow Airport, the station also handles a large number of private civil flights...

 the following December. By the outbreak of the Second World War, nearly 500 Hurricanes had been produced, and had equipped 18 squadrons.

During 1940, Lord Beaverbrook
Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook
William Maxwell "Max" Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, Bt, PC, was a Canadian-British business tycoon, politician, and writer.-Early career in Canada:...

, who was the Minister of Aircraft Production
Minister of Aircraft Production
The Minister of Aircraft Production was the British government position in charge of the Ministry of Aircraft Production, one of the specialised supply ministries set up by the British Government during World War II...

, 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
Austin Motor Company
The Austin Motor Company was a British manufacturer of automobiles. The company was founded in 1905 and merged in 1952 into the British Motor Corporation Ltd. The marque Austin was used until 1987...

's Cofton Hackett plant. Another was David Rosenfield Ltd, based at Barton
Barton-upon-Irwell
Barton-upon-Irwell is a suburban area of Eccles, Greater Manchester, England.-History:...

 aerodrome near Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

.

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
Gloster Aircraft Company
The Gloster Aircraft Company, Limited, known locally as GAC, was a British aircraft manufacturer. The company produced a famous lineage of fighters for the Royal Air Force : the Grebe, Gladiator, Meteor and Javelin. It also produced the Hawker Hurricane and Hawker Typhoon for the parent company...

, making 2,750. The Austin Aero Company built 300. Canada Car and Foundry in Fort William, Ontario
Fort William, Ontario
Fort William was a city in Northern Ontario, located on the Kaministiquia River, at its entrance to Lake Superior. It amalgamated with Port Arthur and the townships of Neebing and McIntyre to form the city of Thunder Bay in January 1970. Ever since then it has been the largest city in Northwestern...

, Canada, (where the Chief Engineer, Elsie MacGill
Elsie MacGill
Elizabeth Muriel Gregory "Elsie" MacGill, OC , known as the "Queen of the Hurricanes", was the world's first female aircraft designer. She worked as an aeronautical engineer during the Second World War and did much to make Canada a powerhouse of aircraft construction during her years at Canadian...

, 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
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

 by Zmaj and Rogozarski. Of these, 20 were built by Zmaj by April 1941. One of these was fitted with a DB 601
Daimler-Benz DB 601
|-See also:-Bibliography:* Mankau, Heinz and Peter Petrick. Messerschmitt Bf 110, Me 210, Me 410. Raumfahrt, Germany: Aviatic Verlag, 2001. ISBN 3-92550-562-8.* Neil Gregor Daimler-Benz in the Third Reich. Yale University Press, 1998-External links:...

 and test flown
Flight test
Flight test is a branch of aeronautical engineering that develops and gathers data during flight of an aircraft and then analyzes the data to evaluate the flight characteristics of the aircraft and validate its design, including safety aspects...

 in 1941.

A contract for 80 Hurricanes was placed with Fairey's Belgian subsidiary Avions Fairey SA
Avions Fairey
Avions Fairey was the Belgian-based subsidiary of the British Fairey Aviation that built Fairey aircraft designs for the Belgian government.-History:...

 for the Belgian Air Force
Belgian Air Force
The Air Component, formerly the Belgian Air Force, is the air arm of the Belgian Armed Forces. Originally founded in 1909, it is one of the world's first air forces, and was a pioneer in aerial combat during the First World War...

 in 1938, with the intention of arming these aircraft with four 13.2 mm machine guns. Three were built and two flown with this armament by the time of the Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

in May 1940, with at least 12 more built by Avions Fairey with the conventional eight rifle calibre machine gun armament.

The Phoney War

The Hurricane had its baptism of fire on 21 October 1939. That day, “A” Flight of 46 Squadron took off from North Coates satellite airfield, on the Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

 coast, and was directed to intercept a formation of nine Heinkel He 115
Heinkel He 115
The Heinkel He 115 was a World War II Luftwaffe seaplane with three seats. It was used as a torpedo bomber and performed general seaplane duties, such as reconnaissance and minelaying. The plane was powered by two 720 kW BMW 132K nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engines...

B floatplanes from 1/KüFlGr 906, searching for ships to attack in the North Sea. The Heinkels had been already attacked and damaged by two 72 Squadron Spitfires when six 46 Squadron Hurricanes intercepted the Heinkels, which were flying at sea level in an attempt to avoid fighter attacks. Nevertheless, the Hurricanes in rapid succession, shot down four of the enemy (46 Squadron claiming five and the Spitfire pilots two).
In response to a request from the French government for 10 fighter squadrons to provide air support, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding
Hugh Dowding, 1st Baron Dowding
Air Chief Marshal Hugh Caswall Tremenheere Dowding, 1st Baron Dowding GCB, GCVO, CMG was a British officer in the Royal Air Force...

, 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
No. 1 Squadron RAF
No. 1 Squadron is a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It operated the Harrier GR9 from RAF Cottesmore until 28 January 2011.The squadron motto is In omnibus princeps , appropriate for the RAF's oldest squadron and one that has been involved in almost every major British military operation since...

, 73
No. 73 Squadron RAF
-World War I:It was initially a unit of the Royal Flying Corps and was formed out of the Central Flying School, based at Upavon, Wiltshire. Eight days after, the new unit moved to Lilbourne, near Rugby....

, 85
No. 85 Squadron RAF
No. 85 Squadron is a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It most recently served as No. 85 Squadron based at RAF Church Fenton.-In World War I:...

 and 87
No. 87 Squadron RAF
No. 87 Squadron RAF was an aircraft squadron of the Royal Air Force during the First World War and Second World War.-World War I:87 Squadron Royal Flying Corps was first formed on 1 September 1917 at Upavon from elements of the Central Flying School...

, were relocated to France, keeping Spitfires back for "Home" defence. The first to arrive was No.73 Squadron on 10 September 1939, followed shortly by the other three. A little later, 607
No. 607 Squadron RAF
No. 607 Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was formed in 1930 as a bomber unit in the Auxiliary Air Force and changed in 1936 to the fighter role. It fought in that role during World War II on the European front and in Asia...

 and 615 Squadrons
No. 615 Squadron RAF
No. 615 Squadron was a unit of the British Auxiliary Air Force and later the Royal Auxiliary Air Force between 1937 and 1957.-Formation and early years:...

 joined them.
After his first flight in October 1939, Beamont subsequently flew operationally with 87 Squadron, claiming three enemy aircraft during the French campaign, and delivered great praise of his aircraft's performance:
On 30 October, Hurricanes saw action over France. That day, Pilot Officer P.W.O. “Boy” Mould of 1st Squadron, flying Hurricane L1842, shot down a Dornier Do 17
Dornier Do 17
The Dornier Do 17, sometimes referred to as the Fliegender Bleistift , was a World War II German light bomber produced by Claudius Dornier's company, Dornier Flugzeugwerke...

P from 2(F)/123. The German aircraft, sent to photograph Allied airfields close to the border, fell in flames about 10 miles (16.1 km) west of Toul
Toul
Toul is a commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in north-eastern France.It is a sub-prefecture of the department.-Geography:Toul is located between Commercy and Nancy, and situated between the Moselle River and the Canal de la Marne au Rhin....

. “Boy” Mould was the first RAF pilot to down an enemy aircraft on the continent in the Second World War.

On 6 November 1939, Pilot Officer P.V. Ayerst from 73° Squadron, was the first to clash with a Messerschmitt Bf 109. After the dogfight, he came back with five holes in his fuselage. Flying Officer
Flying Officer
Flying officer is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence...

 E. J. "Cobber" Kain
Cobber Kain
Edgar James Kain DFC was a New Zealand fighter pilot. Nicknamed "Cobber", Flying Officer Kain was the first RAF air ace of the Second World War, and also the first recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross in the Second World War. During the Battle of France in 1940, he scored 17 confirmed kills...

, a New Zealander, was responsible for 73 Squadron's first victory on 8 November 1939, while stationed at Rouvres
Etain-Rouvres Air Base
Étain - Rouvres Air Base is a former USAF base in France. It is located on the Lorraine Plateau in northeastern France, 1 mile to the west of Étain; on the west side of the Départemental 906 road, adjacent to the village of Rouvres-en-Woevre in the Meuse département about 12 miles east of...

. He went on to become one of the RAF's first fighter aces of the war, being credited with 16 kills.

On 22 December, the Hurricanes in France suffered their first losses. Three Hawker fighters, while trying to intercept an unidentified aircraft, between Metz
Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

 and Thionville
Thionville
Thionville , is a commune in the Moselle department in Lorraine in north-eastern France. The city is located on the left bank of the river Moselle, opposite its suburb Yutz.-Demographics:...

, were jumped by four Bf 109Es from III./JG 53, with the Gruppenkommander, Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 ace Captain Werner Mölders
Werner Mölders
Werner Mölders was a World War II German Luftwaffe pilot and the leading German fighter ace in the Spanish Civil War. Mölders became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 100 aerial victories—that is, 100 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft, and was...

 in the lead. Mölders and Leutnant Hans von Hahn
Hans von Hahn
Hans von Hahn was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership...

 shot down the Hurricanes of Sergeant R.M. Perry and J. Winn for no losses.

Battle of France

In May 1940, Nos. 3, 79 and 504 Squadrons reinforced the earlier units as Germany's Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

gathered momentum. On 10 May, the first day of the Battle of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

, Flight Lieutenant R.E. Lovett and Flying Officer "Fanny" Orton, from 73 Squadron, were the two first RAF pilots to engage combat with the invading German aircraft. They attacked one of the three Dorniers Do 17s from 4./KG2 that were flying over their Rouvres
Rouvres
Rouvres is the name or part of the name of several communes in France:*Rouvres, Calvados, in the Calvados département*Rouvres, Eure-et-Loir, in the Eure-et-Loir département*Rouvres, Seine-et-Marne, in the Seine-et-Marne département...

 airfield. The Dornier went away unscathed, while Orton was hit by defensive fire and had to force land. On the same day, the Hurricane squadrons claimed 42 German aircraft shot down during 208 sorties, although none of these were fighters, while seven Hurricanes were lost but no pilots were killed.

On 12 May, several Hurricanes units were committed to escort bombers. That morning, five Fairey Battle
Fairey Battle
The Fairey Battle was a British single-engine light bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company in the late 1930s for the Royal Air Force. The Battle was powered by the same Rolls-Royce Merlin piston engine that gave contemporary British fighters high performance; however, the Battle was weighed...

 volunteer crews, from No. 12 Squadron, took off from Amifontaine
Amifontaine
Amifontaine is a commune in the department of Aisne in Picardy in northern France.-Population:...

 base to bomb Vroenhoven and Veldvedzelt bridges on the Meuse, at Maastricht
Maastricht
Maastricht is situated on both sides of the Meuse river in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, on the Belgian border and near the German border...

. The escort consisted of eight Hurricanes of No. 1 Squadron, with Squadron Leader P.J.H. "Bull" Halahan in the lead. When the formation approached Maastricht, it was bounced by 16 Bf 109Es from 2./JG 27. Two Battles and two Hurricanes (including Halahan's) were shot down, two more Battles were brought down by flak and the fifth bomber was forced to crash land. The No.1 Squadron pilots claimed four Messerschmitts and two Heinkel He 112
Heinkel He 112
The Heinkel He 112 was a fighter aircraft designed by Walter and Siegfried Günter. It was one of four aircraft designed to compete for the Luftwaffes 1933 fighter contract, which was eventually won by the Messerschmitt Bf 109...

s, while the Luftwaffe actually lost only one Bf 109.

On 13 May 1940, a further 32 Hurricanes arrived. All ten requested Hurricane squadrons were then operating from French soil and felt the full force of the Nazi offensive. The following day, Hurricanes suffered heavy losses: 27 being shot down, 22 by Messerschmitts with 15 pilots killed (another died some days later) including Squadron Leader J.B. Parnall, the first flight commander to die during the war, and the Australian ace Les Clisby. On the same day, No. 3 Squadron claimed 17 German aircraft shot down, Nos. 85 and 87 squadrons claimed four, and No. 607 nine. During the following three days (15–17 May), no fewer than 51 Hurricanes were lost, in combat or in accidents.
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.
On 18 May 1940, air combat continued from dawn to dusk where Hurricanes pilots claimed 57 Germain aircraft and 20 probables (Luftwaffe records show 39 aircraft lost). The following day, Nos. 1 and 73 Squadrons claimed 11 German aircraft (three by "Cobber" Kain and three by Paul Richey). But in these two days, Hurricanes suffered heavier losses, with 68 Hurricanes shot down or forced to crash land due to combat damage. Fifteen pilots were killed, eight were taken prisoner and 11 injured. Two thirds of the Hurricanes had been shot down by Messerschmitt Bf 109s and Bf 110
Messerschmitt Bf 110
The Messerschmitt Bf 110, often called Me 110, was a twin-engine heavy fighter in the service of the Luftwaffe during World War II. Hermann Göring was a proponent of the Bf 110, and nicknamed it his Eisenseiten...

s.

In the afternoon of 20 May 1940, the Hurricane units based in Northern France were ordered to abandon their bases on the continent and return to Great Britain. On the same day, "Bull" Malahan requested the repatriation of the pilots serving in No. 1 Squadron. During the previous 10 days, the unit had been the most successful of the campaign; it had claimed 63 victories for the loss of five pilots: two killed, one taken prisoner and two hospitalized. No. 1 Squadron was the only one awarded ten DFCs and three DFMs during the Blitzkrieg. On the evening of 21 May, the only Hurricanes still operative were those of the AASF
RAF Advanced Air Striking Force
Before the Second World War it had been agreed between the United Kingdom and France that in case of war, the light bomber force of the Royal Air Force would move to bases within France from which it could operate against targets in Nazi Germany. To achieve this, the RAF Advanced Air Striking Force...

 that had been moved to the bases around Troyes
Troyes
Troyes is a commune and the capital of the Aube department in north-central France. It is located on the Seine river about southeast of Paris. Many half-timbered houses survive in the old town...

.
During the 11 days of fighting in France and over Dunkirk on 10—21 May 1940, Hurricane pilots claimed 499 kills and 123 probables. Contemporary German records, examined postwar, attribute 299 Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed and 65 seriously damaged by RAF fighters. When the last Hurricanes left France, on 21 June, of the 452 Hawker fighters engaged during the Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

, only 66 came back to Great Britain with 178 abandoned at the airfields of Merville
Merville
Merville is the name or part of the name of several communes in France:* Merville, in the Haute-Garonne département* Merville, in the Nord département* Merville-Franceville-Plage, in the Calvados département...

, Abbeville
Abbeville
Abbeville is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Location:Abbeville is located on the Somme River, from its modern mouth in the English Channel, and northwest of Amiens...

, Lille
Lille
Lille is a city in northern France . It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium...

/Seclin
Seclin
Seclin is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.It is part of the Urban Community of Lille Métropole.Ghana national football team footballer Andre Ayew was born in Seclin.-Twin towns — Sister cities:...

 and other bases.

Operation Dynamo

During Operation Dynamo (the evacuation from Dunkirk of British, French and Belgian troops cut off by the German army during the Battle of Dunkirk
Battle of Dunkirk
The Battle of Dunkirk was a battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany. A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 26 May–4 June 1940.After the Phoney War, the Battle of...

), the Hawker Hurricanes operated from British bases. Between 26 May and 3 June 1940, the 14 Hurricane units involved were credited with 108 air victories. A total of 27 Hurricane pilots became aces during Operation Dynamo, led by Canadian Pilot Officer W. L. Willie McKnight (10 victories) and Pilot Officer Percival Stanley Turner (seven victories), who served in No. 242 Squadron, mostly formed with Canadian personnel. Losses were 22 pilots killed and three captured.

On 27 May 1940, in one of the final mass encounters of the Blitzkrieg, 13 Hurricanes from 501 Squadron intercepted 24 Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

s escorted by 20 Bf 110s and during the ensuing battle, 11 Heinkels were claimed as "kills" and others damaged, with little damage to the Hurricanes. The following day, JG 26 three Gruppen shot down 12 British fighters: six Spitfires over Dunkirk and six Hurricanes along Ostend
Ostend
Ostend  is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. It comprises the boroughs of Mariakerke , Stene and Zandvoorde, and the city of Ostend proper – the largest on the Belgian coast....

 coast. On 29 May, Luftwaffe I.(J)LG 2 destroyed eight Hurricanes (plus a couple of Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
Morane-Saulnier M.S.406
The M.S.406 was a French Armée de l'Air fighter aircraft built by Morane-Saulnier starting in 1938. Numerically it was France's most important fighter during the opening stages of World War II....

s near St. Quentin) over Dunkirk.

On 7 June 1940, Edgar James "Cobber" Kain, the first RAF ace of the war, got word that he was to return to England for "rest leave" at an Operational Training Unit. On leaving his airfield, he put on an impromptu aerobatic display and was killed when his Hurricane crashed after completing a loop
Aerobatic maneuver
Aerobatic maneuvers are flight paths putting aircraft in unusual attitudes, in air shows, dog fights or competition aerobatics. Aerobatics can be performed by a single aircraft or in formation with several others...

 and attempting some low altitude "flick" rolls
Aerobatic maneuver
Aerobatic maneuvers are flight paths putting aircraft in unusual attitudes, in air shows, dog fights or competition aerobatics. Aerobatics can be performed by a single aircraft or in formation with several others...

.

Initial engagements with the Luftwaffe had 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 standard 87 octane
Octane
Octane is a hydrocarbon and an alkane with the chemical formula C8H18, and the condensed structural formula CH36CH3. Octane has many structural isomers that differ by the amount and location of branching in the carbon chain...

 aviation spirit
Avgas
Avgas is an aviation fuel used to power piston-engine aircraft. Avgas is distinguished from mogas , which is the everyday gasoline used in cars and some non-commercial light aircraft...

. 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 6 lbf (26.7 N) of supercharger
Supercharger
A supercharger is an air compressor used for forced induction of an internal combustion engine.The greater mass flow-rate provides more oxygen to support combustion than would be available in a naturally aspirated engine, which allows more fuel to be burned and more work to be done per cycle,...

 boost for five minutes (although there are accounts of its use for 30 minutes continuously). The extra supercharger boost, which increased engine output by nearly 250 hp, gave the Hurricane an approximate increase in speed of 25 mph (40.2 km/h) to 35 mph (56.3 km/h), under 15000 ft (4,572 m) altitude and greatly increased the aircraft's climb rate. "Overboost" or "pulling the plug", a form of war emergency power
War emergency power
War Emergency Power is an American term for the throttle setting on some World War II military aircraft engines. For use in emergency situations, it produced more than 100% of the engine's normal rated power for a limited amount of time, often about five minutes...

 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
Messerschmitt Bf 109
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, often called Me 109, was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid 1930s...

 and to increase its margin of superiority over the Bf 110C
Messerschmitt Bf 110
The Messerschmitt Bf 110, often called Me 110, was a twin-engine heavy fighter in the service of the Luftwaffe during World War II. Hermann Göring was a proponent of the Bf 110, and nicknamed it his Eisenseiten...

, especially at low altitude. With the +12 lbf/in2 (83 kPa) "emergency boost", the Merlin III was able to generate 1,310 hp (977 kW) at 9000 ft (2,743.2 m).

Flt Lt
Flight Lieutenant
Flight lieutenant is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many Commonwealth countries. It ranks above flying officer and immediately below squadron leader. The name of the rank is the complete phrase; it is never shortened to "lieutenant"...

 Ian Gleed 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 May 1940:

Gleed ran out of ammunition before he could shoot the 109 down although he left it heavily damaged and flying at about 50 ft (15.2 m).

Hurricanes equipped with Rotol
Dowty Rotol
Dowty Rotol is a British engineering company based in Cheltenham specialised in the manufacture of propellers and propeller components. It is owned by General Electric, forming part of its GE Aviation Systems division.-History:...

 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
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

 officially 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
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

— 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 higher number of RAF victories during this period, accounting for 55 percent of the 2,739 German losses, according to Fighter Command, compared with 42 per cent by Spitfires.

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 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 mi/h.

The Hurricane was a steady gun platform, and had demonstrated its ruggedness, as several were badly damaged, yet returned to base. But, whilst it was sturdy and stable, the Hurricane's construction 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 for 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 that he 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, 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 fire risk.

One lesson learned in combat had been that even eight .303
.303 British
.303 British, or 7.7x56mmR, is a .311 inch calibre rifle and machine gun cartridge first developed in Britain as a blackpowder round put into service in December 1888 for the Lee-Metford rifle, later adapted to use smokeless powders...

 machine guns would not guarantee a kill in the fast-moving air combats that were taking place. In spite of this, 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
Incendiary ammunition
-World War I:One of the first uses of incendiary ammunition occurred in World War I. At the time, phosphorus—the primary ingredient in the incendiary charge—ignited upon firing, leaving a trail of blue smoke. They were also known as 'smoke tracer' for this reason. The effective range of...

.

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
Miss Shilling's orifice
Miss Shilling's Orifice was a very simple technical device made to counter engine cut-out in early Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aeroplanes during the Battle of Britain...

 in early 1941.

The only Battle of Britain Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

, and the only one awarded to a member of Fighter Command during the war, was awarded to Flight Lieutenant Eric Nicolson of 249 Squadron
No. 249 Squadron RAF
No. 249 Squadron RAF was a Royal Air Force squadron, active in the sea-patrol, fighter and bomber roles during its existence.-First formation:...

 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 down.

Night fighters and Intruders

Following the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane continued to give service, and through the Blitz
The Blitz
The Blitz was the sustained strategic bombing of Britain by Nazi Germany between 7 September 1940 and 10 May 1941, during the Second World War. The city of London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 76 consecutive nights and many towns and cities across the country followed...

 of 1941, was the principal single-seat night fighter in Fighter Command. F/Lt. Richard Stevens claimed 14 Luftwaffe bombers flying 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
Karel Kuttelwascher
Karel Miloslav Kuttelwascher, "Kut" was a Czech fighter pilot, a flying ace of the UK's Royal Air Force in World War II. He was the most successful RAF pilot of Czech nationality.-Pilot:...

 of 1 Squadron
No. 1 Squadron RAF
No. 1 Squadron is a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It operated the Harrier GR9 from RAF Cottesmore until 28 January 2011.The squadron motto is In omnibus princeps , appropriate for the RAF's oldest squadron and one that has been involved in almost every major British military operation since...

 proved the top scorer, with 15 Luftwaffe bombers claimed shot down.

1942 also saw the manufacture of twelve Hurricane II C(NF) night-fighters equipped with pilot-operated Air Interception Mark VI radar. After a brief operational deployment with No.245 and No. 247 Squadron RAF
No. 247 Squadron RAF
No. 247 Squadron was formerly a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was also known as No.247 Squadron in recognition of the donations made by the British colonies, which at the outbreak of the Second World War, were established on the Chinese coast...

 during which these aircraft proved too slow to serve effectively in Europe, these aircraft were sent to India to serve with No. 176 Squadron RAF
No. 176 Squadron RAF
No. 176 Squadron RAF was a Royal Air Force Squadron that was a night defence unit based in India in World War II.-Formation in World War II:The squadron was formed at Dum Dum, India on 15 January 1943 from a detachment of No. 89 Squadron RAF...

 in the defence of Calcutta. They were withdrawn from service at the end of December 1943.

North Africa

The Hurricane Mk II was hastily tropicalised
Tropical climate
A tropical climate is a climate of the tropics. In the Köppen climate classification it is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above...

 following Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

's entry into the war in June 1940. These aircraft were initially ferried through France by air to 80 Squadron
No. 80 Squadron RAF
No. 80 Squadron RAF was a Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force squadron active from 1917 until 1969. It was operative during both World War I and World War II.-Establishment and early service:...

 in Egypt to replace Gladiators
Gloster Gladiator
The Gloster Gladiator was a British-built biplane fighter. It was used by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy and was exported to a number of other air forces during the late 1930s. It was the RAF's last biplane fighter aircraft and was rendered obsolete by newer monoplane designs even as it...

. The Hurricane claimed its first kill in the Mediterranean on 19 June 1940, when F/O P.G. Wykeham-Barnes reported shooting down two Fiat CR.42
Fiat CR.42
The Fiat CR.42 Falco was a single-seat sesquiplane fighter which served primarily in Italy's Regia Aeronautica before and during World War II. The aircraft was produced by the Turin firm, and entered service, in smaller numbers, with the air forces of Belgium, Sweden and Hungary...

s.
Hurricanes served with several British Commonwealth squadrons in the Desert Air Force
Desert Air Force
The Desert Air Force , also known chronologically as Air Headquarters Western Desert, Air Headquarters Libya, AHQ Western Desert, the Western Desert Air Force, Desert Air Force, and the First Tactical Air Force , was an Allied tactical air force initially created from No...

.
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 Tomahawks/Kittyhawks
Curtiss P-40
The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was an American single-engine, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational...

. 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 500 lb (226.8 kg) bombload.
From November 1941, beginning in the Libyan desert, it had to face a new formidable opponent: the new Regia Aeronautica
Regia Aeronautica
The Italian Royal Air Force was the name of the air force of the Kingdom of Italy. It was established as a service independent of the Royal Italian Army from 1923 until 1946...

 Macchi C.202 Folgore. The Italian aircraft proved superior to the Hawker fighter. The C.202, thanks to its excellent agility and a new, more powerful inline engine, could outperform it in a dogfight.

During and following the five-day El Alamein
El Alamein
El Alamein is a town in the northern Matrouh Governorate of Egypt. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, it lies west of Alexandria and northwest of Cairo. As of 2007, it has a local population of 7,397 inhabitants.- Climate :...

 artillery barrage that commenced on the night of 23 October 1942, six squadrons of Hurricanes, including the 40 mm cannon-armed Hurricane Mk.IID version, claimed to have destroyed 39 tanks, 212 lorries and armoured troop-carriers, 26 bowsers
Bowser (tanker)
A bowser is a generic name for a tanker of various kinds.- Water :The term bowser is used by water companies in the United Kingdom to refer to mobile water tanks deployed to distribute fresh water in emergency situations where the normal system of piped distribution has broken down or is insufficient...

, 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
RAF Castel Benito
RAF Castel Benito was a Royal Air Force station near Tripoli in Libya between 1943 and 1966.-History:Originally a Regia Aeronautica airfield where later the first units of Italian parachutists were trained and formed shortly before the Second World War. The first Italian Military Parachute...

, Tripoli
Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

, knocked out six tanks, 13 armoured vehicles, 10 lorries, five half-track
Half-track
A half-track is a civilian or military vehicle with regular wheels on the front for steering, and caterpillar tracks on the back to propel the vehicle and carry most of the load. The purpose of this combination is to produce a vehicle with the cross-country capabilities of a tank and the handling...

s, a gun and trailer, and a wireless van on 10 March 1943, with no losses to themselves.

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 Gladiator
Gloster Gladiator
The Gloster Gladiator was a British-built biplane fighter. It was used by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy and was exported to a number of other air forces during the late 1930s. It was the RAF's last biplane fighter aircraft and was rendered obsolete by newer monoplane designs even as it...

s which managed to hold out against vastly superior numbers of the Italian air force during the following 17 days.(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 Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, 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 Skua
Blackburn Skua
The Blackburn B-24 Skua was a carrier-based low-wing, two-seater, single-radial engine aircraft operated by the British Fleet Air Arm which combined the functions of a dive bomber and fighter. It was designed in the mid-1930s, and saw service in the early part of the Second World War...

s.

The increasing number of British aircraft on the island, at last, prompted the Italians to employ German Junkers Ju 87
Junkers Ju 87
The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka was a two-man German ground-attack aircraft...

 dive bombers to try to 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
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 in June that year.

As Malta was situated on the increasingly important sea supply route for the North African campaign
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

, 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. "Laddie" Lucas
Percy Lucas
Percy Belgrave "Laddie" Lucas, CBE, DSO and Bar, DFC, , was a Royal Air Force Officer, left-handed golfer, author and Member of Parliament .-Early and family life:...

 is quoted as saying:

Air defence in Russia

The Hawker Hurricane was the first Allied Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease
Lend-Lease was the program under which the United States of America supplied the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, Free France, and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and 1945. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941, a year and a half after the outbreak of war in Europe in...

 aircraft to be delivered to the USSR with a total of 2,952 Hurricanes eventually delivered; becoming the most common British aircraft in Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 service. Soviet pilots were disappointed by the Hawker fighter, regarding it as inferior to both German and Russian aircraft.

Mk II Hurricanes played an important air defence role in 1941, when the Soviet Union found itself under threat from the German Army approaching on a broad front stretching from Leningrad
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, 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
No. 81 Squadron RAF
No 81 Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It flew Fighter aircraft during the Second World War, and reconnaissance aircraft in the Far East after the war, but was disbanded in 1970.-First World War:No...

 and 134 Squadrons
No. 134 Squadron RAF
No. 134 Squadron RAF was a part of the Royal Air Force which was formed as a light bomber unit in World War I and reformed as a fighter squadron in World War II.-Formation and World War I:No...

 of No. 151 Wing RAF, to provide protection. Twenty-four were transported on the carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 Argus
HMS Argus (I49)
HMS Argus was a British aircraft carrier that served in the Royal Navy from 1918–1944. She was converted from an ocean liner under construction when the First World War began, and became the world's first example of what is now the standard pattern of aircraft carrier, with a full-length flight...

, arriving just off Murmansk
Murmansk
Murmansk is a city and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast, Russia. It serves as a seaport and is located in the extreme northwest part of Russia, on the Kola Bay, from the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula, not far from Russia's borders with Norway and Finland...

 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 Union.
Although Soviet pilots were not universally enthusiastic about the Hurricane, Hero of the Soviet Union, Lt. Col Safanov "...loved the Hurricane..." and RAF Hurricane Mk IIB fighters operating from Soviet soil in defense of Murmansk, destroyed 15 Luftwaffe aircraft for only one loss in combat. In some Soviet war memoirs the Hurricane is described very unflatteringly.

The "Soviet" Hurricane had quite a few drawbacks. First of all, it was 40–50 km/h (25/31 mph) slower that its main opponent, the Bf 109E, at low and medium height, and had a slower rate of climb. The Messerschmitt could outdive the Hurricane because of the low wing loading of the British fighter. But the main source of complaints was the Hurricane's armament. Often the eight or 12 small-calibre machine guns did not damage the sturdy and heavily armoured German aircraft, consequently, Soviet ground crews started to remove the Brownings. Retaining only four or six of the 12 machine guns two 12.7 mm Berezin UB
Berezin UB
Berezin UB was a 12.7 mm caliber Soviet aircraft machine gun widely used during World War II.-Development:...

s or two or even four 20 mm ShVAK cannon
ShVAK cannon
The ShVAK was a 20 mm autocannon used by the Soviet Union during World War II. It was designed by Boris Shpitalniy and Semyon Vladimirov and entered production in 1936...

s were substituted, but overall performance deteriorated.

Burma, Ceylon, Singapore, and the Dutch East Indies

Following the outbreak of war with Japan
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

, 51 Hurricane Mk IIs were sent in crates to Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, with 24 pilots, the nucleus of five squadrons. They arrived on 3 January 1942, by which time the Allied fighter squadrons in Singapore, flying Brewster Buffalo
Brewster Buffalo
The Brewster F2A Buffalo was an American fighter aircraft which saw limited service early in World War II. Though the Buffalo won a competition against the Grumman F4F Wildcat in 1939 to become the US Navy's first monoplane fighter aircraft, it turned out to be a big disappointment...

s, had been overwhelmed in the Malayan campaign
Battle of Malaya
The Malayan Campaign was a campaign fought by Allied and Japanese forces in Malaya, from 8 December 1941 – 31 January 1942 during the Second World War. The campaign was dominated by land battles between British Commonwealth army units, and the Imperial Japanese Army...

. The Imperial Japanese Army Air Force's fighter force, especially the Nakajima Ki-43
Nakajima Ki-43
The Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa was a single-engine land-based tactical fighter used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in World War II...

, 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 bomber killers.

The recently-arrived pilots were formed into 232 Squadron
No. 232 Squadron RAF
No. 232 Squadron of the Royal Air Force was active in both World War I and World War II in a variety of roles, having seen action as an anti-submarine patrol, fighter and transport squadron.-In World War I:...

. In addition, 488(NZ) Squadron
No. 488 Squadron RNZAF
488 Squadron was the name given to two distinct Royal New Zealand Air Force squadrons during the Second World War. Both were formed under Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme and served under the operational command of the Royal Air Force....

, a Buffalo squadron, converted to Hurricanes. On 18 January, the two squadrons formed the basis of 226 Group. 232 Squadron became operational on 22 January and suffered the first losses and victories for the Hurricane in Southeast Asia.

Between 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
Palembang
Palembang is the capital city of the South Sumatra province in Indonesia. Palembang is one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, and has a history of being a capital of a maritime empire. Located on the Musi River banks on the east coast of southern Sumatra island, it has an area of 400.61 square...

, Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

 in the Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

.

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
Battle of Singapore
The Battle of Singapore was fought in the South-East Asian theatre of the Second World War when the Empire of Japan invaded the Allied stronghold of Singapore. Singapore was the major British military base in Southeast Asia and nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the East"...

, on 10 February, the remnants of 232 and 488 Squadrons were withdrawn to Palembang. However, Japanese paratroopers began the invasion of Sumatra on 13 February. Hurricanes destroyed six Japanese transport ships on 14 February, but lost seven aircraft in the process. On 18 February, the remaining Allied aircraft and aircrews moved to Java. By this time, only 18 serviceable Hurricanes remained out of the original 99.

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 non-combat units.

The RAF Hurricanes of No 30 Squadron also saw action in Ceylon when Japanese Zero fighters and bombers from Admiral Nagumo's fleet attacked Colombo
Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...

 on 5 April 1942 and Trincomalee
Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a port city in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka and lies on the east coast of the island, about 113 miles south of Jaffna. It has a population of approximately 100,000 . The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. Overlooking the Kottiyar Bay,...

 harbour on 9 April 1942. Some twenty RAF Ceylon Hurricanes were pitted against 120 Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft commanded by Captain Mitsuo Fuchida
Mitsuo Fuchida
was a Japanese Captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and a bomber pilot in the Imperial Japanese Navy before and during World War II. He is perhaps best known for leading the first air wave attacks on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941...

 of the Imperial Japanese Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy
The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes...

, who led the attack on Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

.

Epilogue

The battles over the Arakan
Rakhine State
Rakhine State is a Burmese state. Situated on the western coast, it is bordered by Chin State in the north, Magway Region, Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Region in the east, the Bay of Bengal to the west, and the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh to the northwest. It is located approximately between...

 in 1943, represented the last large-scale use of the Hurricane as a pure day fighter. But they were still used in the fighter-bomber role in Burma until the end of the
war and they were occasionally caught up in air combat as well. For example, on 15 February 1944, Flg Off Jagadish Chandra Verma of No 6 Sqdn of Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force is the air arm of the Indian armed forces. Its primary responsibility is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during a conflict...

, shot down a Japanese Ki-43 Oscar: it was the only IAF victory of the war.
The Hurricane remained in service as a fighter-bomber over the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 and at home as well where it was used mainly for second-line tasks and occasionally flown by ace pilots. For example, in mid-1944, ace Sqdn Leader 'Jas' Storrar flew No 1687 Hurricane to deliver priority mail to Allied armies in France during Normandy invasion.

Aircraft Carrier Operations

The Sea Hurricane
Hawker Hurricane variants
The Hawker Hurricane was a British single-seat fighter aircraft designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd. Some versions were built in Canada by the Canada Car and Foundry Co Ltd-Hurricane Mk I:Hurricane Mk I ...

 became operational in mid-1941 and scored its first kill while operating from on 31 July 1941. During the next three years, Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters...

 Sea Hurricanes were to feature prominently while operating from Royal Navy aircraft carriers. The Sea Hurricane scored an impressive kill-to-loss ratio, primarily while defending Malta convoys
Malta Convoys
The Malta Convoys were a series of Allied supply convoys that sustained the besieged island of Malta during the Mediterranean Theatre of the Second World War...

, and operating from escort carriers in the Atlantic Ocean. As an example, on 26 May 1944, Royal Navy Sea Hurricanes operating from the escort carrier HMS Nairana
HMS Nairana (D05)
HMS Nairana was the lead ship of the Royal Navy's s that saw service in the Second World War. She was built at John Brown & Company shipyards in Clydebank, Scotland...

 claimed the destruction of three Ju 290
Junkers Ju 290
The Junkers Ju 290 was a long-range transport, maritime patrol aircraft and heavy bomber used by the Luftwaffe late in World War II.-Design and development:...

 reconnaissance aircraft during the defence of a convoy.

Hurricane Aces

Top scoring Hurricane pilot was Squadron Leader
Squadron Leader
Squadron Leader is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. In these...

 Marmaduke Thomas St. John Pat Pattle
Marmaduke Pattle
Squadron Leader Marmaduke Thomas St. John "Pat" Pattle DFC & Bar was a South African-born Second World War flying ace for the Royal Air Force. Pattle was a fighter ace with a very high score, and is sometimes noted as being the highest-scoring British and Commonwealth pilot of the Second World War...

, DFC
Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom)
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against...

 & Bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

, with 35 Hawker fighter victories (out of 50 and two shared) serving with No. 80 & 33 Squadrons. All of his Hurricane kills were achieved over Greece in 1941. He was shot down and killed in the Battle of Athens. Wing Commander Frank Reginald Carey
Frank Reginald Carey
Group Captain Frank Reginald "Chota" Carey CBE, DFC & Two Bars, AFC, DFM was an English World War II fighter ace with 25 victories, three shared destroyed, four unconfirmed destroyed, four probables and eight damaged...

 claimed 28 air victories while flying Hurricanes during 1939-43, and Squadron Leader
Squadron Leader
Squadron Leader is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. In these...

 William "Cherry" Vale
William Vale
Squadron Leader William "Cherry" Vale DFC & Bar, AFC was a Royal Air Force pilot who, during the Second World War, claimed 30 enemy aircraft shot down and shared in the destruction of three others, and also claiming 6 damaged and another two shared damaged.His 20 kills achieved while flying the...

 DFC
Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom)
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against...

 & Bar
Medal bar
A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. It is most commonly used to indicate the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the...

, AFC
Air Force Cross (United Kingdom)
The Air Force Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom Armed Forces, and formerly also to officers of the other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying, though not in active operations against the enemy"...

 totalled 20 kills (of 30) in Greece and Syria with No. 80 Sqdn. F/Lt Karel M. Kuttelwascher
Karel Kuttelwascher
Karel Miloslav Kuttelwascher, "Kut" was a Czech fighter pilot, a flying ace of the UK's Royal Air Force in World War II. He was the most successful RAF pilot of Czech nationality.-Pilot:...

 achieved all of his 18 air victories with the Hurricane, most as an Intruder night figher with No. 1 Sqdn. Pilot Officer V.C. Woodward (33 & 213 Sqdn) was another top-scoring ace with 14 (out of 18) plus three shared, while F/Lt Richard P. Stevens
Richard Stevenson (disambiguation)
Richard Stevenson is the name of:*Richard Stevenson, a Canadian poet*Richard Lipez, American mystery author known as Richard Stevenson*Dick Stevenson, member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives...

 claimed all of his 14.5 enemy aircraft flying the Hurricane. Richard Dickie Cork
Richard John Cork
Richard John Cork DSO, DSC was a fighter ace in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Cork, a naval officer, served in the Battle of Britain as the wingman for Douglas Bader in No. 242 Squadron Royal Air Force...

 was the leading Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters...

 Sea Hurricane ace with nine destroyed, two shared, one probable, four damaged and seven destroyed on the ground. Czech pilot Josef František
Josef František
Sergeant Josef František DFM* was a Czech fighter pilot and World War II flying ace. He flew for the air forces of Czechoslovakia, Poland and the United Kingdom. He is famous as being the number one allied ace in the Battle of Britain.- Career :Born in Otaslavice in 1913, Josef František joined...

, flying with 303 Polish Squadron, shot down at least 17 enemy aircraft over south-east England during September–October 1940.

Variants


Hurricane Mk I
First production version, with fabric-covered wings, a wooden two-bladed, fixed-pitch
Blade pitch
Blade pitch or simply pitch refers to turning the angle of attack of the blades of a propeller or helicopter rotor into or out of the wind to control the production or absorption of power. Wind turbines use this to adjust the rotation speed and the generated power...

 propeller
Propeller (aircraft)
Aircraft propellers or airscrews convert rotary motion from piston engines or turboprops to provide propulsive force. They may be fixed or variable pitch. Early aircraft propellers were carved by hand from solid or laminated wood with later propellers being constructed from metal...

, powered by the 1,030 hp (768 kW) Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce Limited
Rolls-Royce Limited was a renowned British car and, from 1914 on, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904....

 Merlin
Rolls-Royce Merlin
The Rolls-Royce Merlin is a British liquid-cooled, V-12, piston aero engine, of 27-litre capacity. Rolls-Royce Limited designed and built the engine which was initially known as the PV-12: the PV-12 became known as the Merlin following the company convention of naming its piston aero engines after...

 Mk II or III engines and armed with eight .303 in
.303 British
.303 British, or 7.7x56mmR, is a .311 inch calibre rifle and machine gun cartridge first developed in Britain as a blackpowder round put into service in December 1888 for the Lee-Metford rifle, later adapted to use smokeless powders...

 (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns
M1919 Browning machine gun
The M1919 Browning is a .30 caliber medium machine gun that was widely used during the 20th century. It was used as a light infantry, coaxial, mounted, aircraft, and anti-aircraft machine gun by the U.S. and many other countries, especially during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War...

. Produced between 1937 and 1939.


Hurricane Mk I (revised)
A revised Hurricane Mk I series built with a de Havilland
De Havilland
The de Havilland Aircraft Company was a British aviation manufacturer founded in 1920 when Airco, of which Geoffrey de Havilland had been chief designer, was sold to BSA by the owner George Holt Thomas. De Havilland then set up a company under his name in September of that year at Stag Lane...

 or Rotol
Dowty Rotol
Dowty Rotol is a British engineering company based in Cheltenham specialised in the manufacture of propellers and propeller components. It is owned by General Electric, forming part of its GE Aviation Systems division.-History:...

 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 glycol 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 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns. The first aircraft were built in October 1940 and were renamed Mark IIB in April 1941.


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
Hispano-Suiza HS.404
The Hispano-Suiza HS.404 was an autocannon widely used as both an aircraft and land weapon in the 20th century by British, American, French, and numerous other military services. The cannon is also referred to as Birkigt type 404, after its designer. Firing a 20 mm caliber projectile, it delivered...

 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 500 lb (226.8 kg) or 250 lb (113.4 kg) 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
Ground attack aircraft
Ground-attack aircraft are military aircraft with primary role of attacking targets on the ground with greater precision than bombers and prepared to face stronger low-level air defense...

 role, sometimes referred to as the Hurribomber. The mark also served as a night fighter
Night fighter
A night fighter is a fighter aircraft adapted for use at night or in other times of bad visibility...

 and "intruder."


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 delivered.


Hurricane Mk T.IIC
Two-seat training version of the Mk. IIC. Only two aircraft were built for the Persian Air Force.


Hurricane Mk III
Version of the Hurricane Mk II powered by a Packard
Packard
Packard was an American luxury-type automobile marque built by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, and later by the Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana...

-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 lb or 500 lb (110 or 230 kg) bombs, two 40 mm (1.57 in) Vickers S guns, drop tanks or eight "60 pounder" RP-3
RP-3
The RP-3 , was a British rocket used in the Second World War. Though primarily an air-to-ground weapon, it saw limited use in other roles. Its 60 lb warhead gave rise to the alternative name of the "60 lb rocket"; the 25 lb solid-shot armour piercing variant was referred to as the "25 lb rocket"...

 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 aircraft 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) cannon.


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
General Aircraft Limited
General Aircraft Limited was a British aircraft manufacturer from its formation in 1931 to amalgamation with Blackburn Aircraft in 1949 to become Blackburn and General...

. These conversions numbered approximately 250 aircraft. They were modified to be carried by CAM ship
CAM ship
CAM ships were World War II-era British merchant ships used in convoys as an emergency stop-gap until sufficient escort carriers became available. CAM is an acronym for catapult aircraft merchantman. A CAM ship was equipped with a rocket-propelled catapult launching a single Hawker Sea Hurricane,...

s (catapult
Aircraft catapult
An aircraft catapult is a device used to launch aircraft from ships—in particular aircraft carriers—as a form of assisted take off. It consists of a track built into the flight deck, below which is a large piston or shuttle that is attached through the track to the nose gear of the aircraft, or in...

 armed merchantman
Cargo ship
A cargo ship or freighter is any sort of ship or vessel that carries cargo, goods, and materials from one port to another. Thousands of cargo carriers ply the world's seas and oceans each year; they handle the bulk of international trade...

), whose ships' crews were Merchant Marine and whose Hurricanes were crewed and serviced by RAF personnel, or Fighter Catapult Ships, which were Naval Auxiliary Vessels crewed by naval personnel and aircraft operated by the Fleet Air Arm. These ships were equipped with a catapult for launching an aircraft, but without facilities to recover them. Consequently, 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. Ditching the Hurricane in the sea called for skill as 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 Hurricane so that a quick exit was advisable before the aircraft sank. Then the pilot had to be picked up by the ship. More than 80 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 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. CAM Sea Hurricanes were launched operationally on eight occasions and the Hurricanes shot down six enemy aircraft for the loss of one Hurricane pilot killed. The first Sea Hurricane IA kill was an FW 200C Condor
Focke-Wulf Fw 200
The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, also known as Kurier to the Allies was a German all-metal four-engine monoplane originally developed by Focke-Wulf as a long-range airliner...

, shot down on 2 August 1941.


Sea Hurricane Mk IB
Hurricane Mk I version equipped with catapult spools plus an arrester hook. From July 1941 they operated from HMS Furious
HMS Furious (47)
HMS Furious was a modified cruiser built for the Royal Navy during the First World War. Designed to support the Baltic Project championed by the First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, Lord John Fisher, they were very lightly armoured and armed with only a few heavy guns. Furious was modified while...

 and from October 1941, they were used on Merchant aircraft carrier
Merchant aircraft carrier
Merchant aircraft carriers were bulk cargo ships with minimal aircraft handling facilities, used during World War II by Britain and the Netherlands as an interim measure to supplement British and United States-built escort carriers in providing an anti-submarine function for convoys...

 (MAC ships), which were large cargo vessels with a flight deck fitted, enabling aircraft to be launched and recovered. A total of 340 aircraft were converted. The first Sea Hurricane IB kill occurred on 31 July 1941 when Sea Hurricanes of 880 squadron FAA operating from HMS Furious shot down a Do 18 flying-boat
Dornier Do 18
The Dornier Do 18 was a development of the Do 16 flying boat. It was developed for the Luftwaffe, but Lufthansa got 5 aircraft and used these for tests between the Azores and the North American continent in 1936 and on their mail route over the South Atlantic from 1937 to 1939.27–29 March 1938 a...

.


Sea Hurricane Mk IC
Hurricane Mk I version equipped with catapult spools, an arrester hook and the four-cannon wing. From February 1942, 400 aircraft were converted. The Sea Hurricane IC used during Operation Pedestal
Operation Pedestal
Operation Pedestal was a British operation to get desperately needed supplies to the island of Malta in August 1942, during the Second World War. Malta was the base from which surface ships, submarines and aircraft attacked Axis convoys carrying essential supplies to the Italian and German armies...

had their Merlin III engines modified to accept 16 lb boost, and could generate more than 1400 hp at low altitude. Lt. R. J. Cork was credited with five kills while flying a Sea Hurricane IC during Operation Pedestal.


Sea Hurricane Mk IIC
Hurricane Mk IIC version equipped with naval radio gear; 400 aircraft were converted and used on fleet carriers. The Merlin XX engine on the Sea Hurricane generated 1460 hp at 6,250 ft and 1435 hp at 11,000 ft. Top speed was 322 mph at 13,500ft and 342 mph at 22,000 ft.


Sea Hurricane Mk XIIA
Canadian-built Hurricane Mk XIIA converted into Sea Hurricanes.


Hillson F.40 (a.k.a. F.H.40)
A full-scale version of the Hills & Son Bi-mono
Hillson Bi-mono
-References:* Ellis, Ken. "Back to the Biplane: The 'Slip Wing' and the Hurricane". Air Enthusiast, No 107, September/October 2003. ISSN 0143-5450. pp. 47–51....

 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 RAF Sealand
RAF Sealand
RAF Sealand was a former Royal Air Force station in Flintshire, north Wales and operated between 1916 and 2006.Under defence cuts announced in 2004 RAF Sealand was completely closed in April 2006. All remaining RAF units were moved to RAF Leeming...

 during May 1943, and at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment
The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment was a research facility for British military aviation from 1918 to 1992.-History:...

, 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 several Hurricanes Is for the role. The first three were converted in January 1941. Two carried a pair of F24 cameras with 8 inch focal length lenses and the third a vertical and two oblique F24s with 14 inch 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 (11,600 m).


Hurricane 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.

Operators

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.

Survivors

Of the more than 14,500 Hurricanes that were built, only 12 survive in airworthy condition worldwide, although other non-flying examples survive in various air museums worldwide. Two Canadian built Hurricanes were acquired by aircraft collector Lynn Garrison
Lynn Garrison
Lynn Garrison is a Canadian pilot and political adviser. He was an RCAF fighter pilot from the 403 City of Calgary Squadron, commercial pilot, film producer, director and mercenary...

 for display in Calgary, Alberta. One of these made its way to the United Kingdom where it now flies at G-HURI.

Specifications (Hurricane Mk.IIC)


See also

External links

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