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Hawker Hurricane



During the desperate days of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain, the Hawker Hurricane was the workhorse of the RAF's Fighter Command. More British squadrons were equipped with the Hurricane at this time than with the Spitfire and Hurricane pilots accounted for many more German aircraft than their Spitfire equipped brethren.

The Hawker Hurricane was designed by Sidney Camm in the early 1930's to an Air Ministry requirement for a fighter aircraft to be built around what would become the Rolls Royce Merlin engine. The design used structural elements already proven in the reliable and rugged Hawker Hart and Hawker Hind families of biplane aircraft. The Hurricane entered service with the RAF in 1937 and by the beginning of World War II sufficient Hurricanes were in front line service to allow the RAF to offer a credible threat to the Luftwaffe.

During the disastrous campaign in France, Air Vice Marshall Dowding commanding RAF Fighter Command was loath to commit planes and pilots to what quickly became apparent to be a one sided fight. As the situation became ever more desperate pressure on Dowding prompted him to deploy a few Hurricane squadrons to the front line in France, retaining the less numerous Spitfire equipped squadrons for home defence. Although out numbered the Hurricanes sent to France showed that they and their pilots were fully capable of putting up a very stiff resistance to the Luftwaffe.

The Hurricane was not as fast as either the Spitfire or its most dangerous opponent the Messerscmitt Bf 109 but was very manoeuvrable. The Hurricane was also a very solid and rugged plane that could take a good deal of punishment and operate from very poor airfields whilst its traditional methods of construction meant that it was simple to maintain and repair. The Hurricane's eight guns were also better placed than those of the Spitfire to deliver a telling concentration of fire which coupled with its stability as a gun platform made it a dangerous opponent. During the Battle of Britain, Hurricane squadrons were, if possible, directed against German bombers while the faster Spitfire's took on escorting fighters.

As a fighter the Hurricane had near enough reached its maximum potential by 1940 but its heavy and rugged air frame lent it well to development into a dangerous ground attack and tank busting air craft. Hurricanes were also used as single use interceptors launched from Merchant ships and saw extensive service with the RAF in the Mediterranean and Far Eastern theatres of war as well as with many foreign air forces.

Below are the details of the Hurricane Mark I that fought in the Battle of Britain.

Type: Single seat monoplane fighter
Powerplant: 1,030 hp Rolls Royce Merlin II V12
Maximum Speed: 318 mph
Maximum Altitude: 36,000 feet
Range: 460 miles
Armament: 8 x .303”/7.7mm Browning machine guns.

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