eclipsed by the more modern and glamorous Spitfire, the Hurricane, in fact,
was responsible for eighty percent of the enemy aircraft destroyed by fighter
command during the Battle of Britain. It was England's first fighter capable
of exceeding 300 mph with full war load, and, ironically, it's somewhat dated
construction methods enabled it to absorb more damage than the Spit and keep
on fighting. It was a bridge between the biplanes of the twenties
and thirties and the modern stressed-skin monoplanes of the forties. It was a
joy to fly and made an excellent stable gun platform. The Hurricane went on to serve many
roles throughout World War 2.
and Spitfire in 1988 at Hamilton Warplane Heritage Museum
Hurricane had its genesis in the early thirties with Air Ministry
specification F7/30, which required a modern fighter to replace the Bristol
In 1925, Sydney
Camm, aged 32, was appointed chief Engineer at
the H. G. Hawker Engineering Company. (later called Hawker Aircraft Limited)
Camm knew that biplanes had reached their limits and came up with a monoplane
design that year although it was not actually built.
In 1933 Camm's team made an informal proposal for a monoplane adaptation of
the very successful Hawker Fury biplane (also a Camm design) powered by a 660
horsepower Rolls-Royce Goshawk engine.
was quickly seen that even more potential lay in the new Rolls-Royce PV-12
engine, which would evolve into the famed Merlin powerplant.
The new design, simply called the "interceptor monoplane",
incorporated a number of modern features. It had a wide track, retractable
landing gear, low pressure tires, a retracting tail wheel, and an enclosed
cockpit. At first, only four guns were considered necessary. (two on the wings
and two in the cowling)
construction was typical for the biplane era...tubular metal, cross-braced
sections, covered in fabric.
used the early Merlin 12 cylinder engine developing, at this point, 1,029 hp,
turning a Watts two bladed, fixed pitch prop.
Meanwhile, Air Ministry studies had shown that the weight of fire necessary to
destroy an opposing aircraft at modern closing speeds would require at least
eight machine guns instead of the four or even two previously considered
So, in 1935, with the prototype
almost complete, revised specifications were issued calling for eight machine
guns. New wings had to be made to accommodate the change.
The fighter first flew in November, 1935. The machine generally lacked
vices and was a joy to fly, but minor problems needed correction. The
Merlin engine, especially, was unreliable at first. The Merlin I and II were
finally acceptable, but the Merlin III was even better and ended up powering
most of the initial production.
confident in their design, authorized tooling for 1000 to be built in March,
1936. Three months later they were vindicated when the government placed a
first order for 600 examples of the type.
Into War....the HURRICANE STORY Conclusion