Designed by Sydney Camm, the legendary Hawker Hurricane first flew in 1935 and entered service two years later. It was a revolutionary design, being the first RAF monoplane fighter and also the first with a retractable undercarriage. Initial aircraft were built with fabric-covered wings but these later changed to duraluminium, the rear fuselage was also of wooden and fabric design. The Hurricane's characteristic hunch was designed to provide greater visibility which coupled with its excellent handling and ruggedness, made it well-liked by pilots. The Hurricane was the most numerous RAF fighter as the war began and along with the Spitfire carried the burden of defending the British Isles during the Battle of Britain. Although it was outperformed by the Bf 109, Hurricanes could nevertheless take on the slower bombers with greater ease, and ended the battle with the highest tally of enemy aircraft destroyed for any British fighter (around 60% of the total). The Hurricane's versatility made it useful in the night fighter, fighter-bomber and recon roles after 1940 as well as a naval fighter where it saw considerable action in the Mediterranean and Atlantic from merchant ships and carriers. It was as a ground attacker, however, that the Hurricane achieved most of its post-Battle of Britain fame earning the reputation of a fearsome tank-buster, especially in North Africa. By D-Day, however, it had been largely replaced in this role by another Hawker design, the Typhoon, and was relegated to secondary duties. Hurricanes served with the RAF in all theaters until the end of hostilities and were also sent in large quantities (almost one-fourth of total production) to the Soviet Union as lend-lease as well as almost a dozen other foreign operators.
The prototype Hurricane first flew on 6 November 1935 and entered service as the Mk. I fighter which was the mainstay of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. The Mk. II was generally similar but featured a more powerful engine and the ability to carry 500-lb bombs or rockets. Among these, the Mk. IIb was armed with 12 machine guns whereas the Mk. IIc had four 20-mm cannon installed. The Mk. II was also used as a night fighter without radar. In North Africa, the Mk. IId served as a tank-buster with twin 40-mm anti-tank guns under the wings. The final Hurricane version was the Mk. IV, a dedicated ground-attack aircraft although Mk. X to Mk. XII variants were produced by Canadian Car & Foundry in Canada (the Mk. V was only built as a prototype). The Hurricane was also adapted for naval use, all of these were conversions of their land-based cousins and were known as the Sea Hurricane. Developed from the landed-based Mk. I, the Sea Hurricane Mk. Ia operated from CAM (Catapult Armed Merchant) ships in the Atlantic and later the Mk. Ib was deployed on carriers. Pilots of CAM-based Hurricanes would have to bail out after a mission as there were no provisions for landing. Later versions included the Mk. Ic and the Mk. IIc which roughly corresponded to their land-based equivalents.
|Hurricane Mk. I
|Hurricane Mk. IIc
|Hurricane Mk. IV
|1 x Merlin II
|1 x Merlin XX
|1 x Merlin 24/27
|8 x .303-inBrowning Mk. II (333)
|4 x 20-mmHispano Mk. II (91)
|2 x .303-inBrowning Mk. II (300) 2 x 40-mmVickers S (15)