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the Hurricane Story....conclusion

Canadian Warplane Heritage by Lance Russwurm

HURRICANE Mk IIb at Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, built in 1942 by Canadian Car and Foundry. 


    In 1937 the first deliveries were made to number111 Fighter Squadron in Northholt. By September of 1939, the RAF had 497  Hurricanes on strength. Eighteen squadrons were equipped with the new fighter. Some were sold to friendly nations, and, on the eve of war, various arrangements were made to farm out production.

    A major improvement was the replacement of the wooden prop with a two speed, three blade de Havilland metal Propeller. Later a Rotol constant speed unit would be used.  Metal covered wings were also standard by 1939.

    Four squadrons, Numbers 1, 73, 85 and 87 were sent to France with The British Expeditionary Force. They also flew reconnaissance patrols along the German border during the "Phony War" period. There were occasional brushes, and number 1 squadron's first kill was a Dornier Do 17 in October, 1939.

    When the German attack on the west began, three more squadrons (3, 79 and 504) were sent to France. With an attack on the British Isles imminent, these could hardly be spared. 72 aircraft were lost and 120 damaged in the conflict. British determination resulted in a huge effort to increase the numbers available for home defense. There was some success. By the time of the real assault on the U.K. There were 26 Hurricane squadrons available.

    There were also nineteen Spitfire squadrons and ten more squadrons consisting mostly of obsolete Blenheims and Defiants.

    The Hurricane was slightly inferior to the Bf-109 in speed and armament but the two aircraft were close enough that the skill of the pilot was usually the deciding factor. As previously stated, they could absorb more damage than the Spitfire and they made an excellent stable gun platform. The British tactics tended to send the Spitfires against the Bf-109's (with which they were evenly matched), and the Hurricanes after the bombers. This worked very well. The Hurricanes also had no trouble dispatching Bf 110's and Ju 87 Stukas.

    Between July and October, 1940, 1,715 Hurricanes took part in the Battle of Britain. Their role had proven decisive.  By the end of the daylight phase, 2,648 aircraft from both sides had been destroyed. In encounters in which they were direct opponents,  272 Bf-109's were downed as opposed to only 153 Hurricanes.

     Hurricanes went on to serve in every theatre of operation in every role possible for a single engine fighter. When they were no longer useful as an air superiority fighter, they proved to be excellent in ground attack duties. Altogether, some 14, 231 of all types were built, including 1, 451 by the Canadian Car and Foundry Company in Fort William, Ontario.

- Lance Russwurm

Canadian Warplane Heritage Hurricane, cowlings by Lance Russwurm

Canadian Warplane Heritage Hurricane with cowlings removed. This beautifully restored example was tragically lost in a fire several years ago.

Specifications (Hurricane MkI):

POWERPLANT: ROLLS-ROYCE MERLIN 1,030 hp V-12 engine driving a Rotol constant speed propeller

PERFORMANCE: Maximum Speed: 318 mph at 18,000 ft; Initial Climb Rate: 2,520 ft/min; Service Ceiling: 36,000 ft; Range: 460 miles

WEIGHT: Empty: 4,670 lb Maximum Take-off: 6,600 lb

DIMENSIONS: Span: 40'; Length: 31' 4", Height: 12', 11 1/2"

ARMAMENT: eight 0.303 cal. Browning machine guns, with 2, 660 rounds





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