Whilst reading the book Portrait of a Legend, Spitfire (click) about the Supermarine Spitfire, and my previous knowledge, I was very aware of the other aircraft involved in the conflicts of the Second World War, and another British aircraft, the Hawker Hurricane.
Another beautifully designed aircraft like the Spitfire, it was the result of the Hawker Aircraft Company, based in my home town (at the moment) of the historic and Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, (click to see video), and their chief designer Sydney Camm.
In 1934, many developments were taking place in the aircraft industry, including Rolls Royce who were developing the PV-12 engine (PV standing for Private Venture having no Government financing). The PV-12 was later renamed, following the tradition of naming the engines after birds, Merlin.
At this time Camm and his design team were working on a fighter project known as the Hawker Monoplane Fury based around the RR Goshawk engine, but as the new PV-12 offered more power, and the Government Air Ministry had issued a new specification of requirements (F36/34), design changes were made, creating what was first known as K5083, and was first flown on 6 November 1935 at Brooklands, the world’s first purpose-built motor-racing track, the car and aircraft (with Concorde) museum, and home to Mercedes-Benz (UK). The first production Hurricane flew on 12 October 1937, and was delivered to the 111 Squadron at RAF Northolt two months later.
Initially the Hawker Hurricane was fabric covered or doped linen, stemming from the early days of Sopwith, (see video of Sopwith Camel) biplanes and construction methods, and it was only in April 1939 that all steel, stressed-skin wing was introduced. The fabric covering had an advantage over the Spitfire, in that the Hurricane was less prone to bullet damage and was easier to repair.
The Hurricane was the first fighter aircraft to fly over 300mph, and on 10th February 1938, it was flown from Edinburgh (Scotland) to Northolt (London) at an average speed of 408 mph.
The Hurricane was to prove to have less performance in speed, maneuverability, altitude than the Spitfire, but it was the Hurricane that proved itself in the Battle of Britain, accounting for 1,593 out of the 2,739 total kills against the Luftwaffe claimed. The Spitfires would intercept the Luftwaffe fighters, whilst the Hurricanes concentrated on the bombers (Heinkel He 111 and Dornier Do 17). In August 1940, the RAF Fighter Command could call on 32 squadrons of Hurricanes and only 19 of Spitfires.
The Hurricane went on to be developed into a multipurpose aircraft, from the Mk IIA to the Mk XII, to deliver bombs being known as the ‘Hurribomber‘ fighter-bomber, to carry air to air, air to grown rockets, and into the naval version the Sea Hurricane, when in some cases they would be catapulted into the air from ships to go into battle, only to have nowhere to land but ditch into the sea and be lost.
The Hurricane saw action in all the theaters of war, especially North Africa and the Far East.
During the war, Hurricanes were supplied to Egypt, Finland, India, the Irish Air Corps, Persia, Turkey, and the USSR. It is said that the Hurricane was one of the greatest and most versatile fighter aircraft of WWII, and it remained in service with the RAF until January 1947.