History cont’d

Mk I, the first squadron issue Hawker Hurricane


Sydney Camm’s design for the Hurricane was his response to the Air Ministry specification F.7/30, though not his first. Camm, Chief Designer for Hawker Aircraft Ltd, had two previous designs, one biplane, one monoplane, rejected. The project was now carried on, with Hawker’s support, as a private venture and became a ready made design for the more advanced 1935 Air Ministry specification F.10/35, the only significant modification to the design being made to the wings in order to accommodate the specified number of machine guns.

copyright  Rogers Collection

This is one of the first hundred Hurricanes at Brooklands, before delivery to squadron service. Note the twin blade, fixed pitch wooden propeller. These aircraft were a part of 4 Hurricane squadrons that flew to France in the opening weeks of World War II and included 1 Squadron, 73 Squadron and the advanced striking force, 85 Squadron and 87 Squadron providing cover for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). When the enemy invaded the low countries things started to hot up during the period of May. A few remnants of other squadrons were sought to extracate themselves from France up until the end of June. These are some of the aircraft numbers that were used L1604; L1632; L1634; L1637; L1639; L1644; L1648.

The Hurricane first flew in 1936 and began to be delivered for squadron service in 1938. These aircraft were built at Kingston and Brooklands and issued to 85 Squadron (we believe these were subsequently flown by Pilot Officers Lewis, Hemingway, Lee), 504 Squadron for a very short period, in the Battle of France. From my father’s recollection (who was based at Abbeyville, Seclan and Lille) during those months, this particular aircraft was built during September 1938 and was shot down in France by BF109 as part of the 111 group JG26, in the area of Lille/Mamo during May 1940. It was flown by Parnell.

The remaining requirement to meet the F.10/35 specification was the Rolls Royce PV 12 engine, subsequently the Merlin of unrivalled fame amongst piston engines. Another piece of invaluable wartime equipment developed as a private venture.

It began as a scale up of the ‘Kestrel’, increasing cubic capacity from 1295 in3 to 1649 in3. It was first named ‘Merlin’, named after the bird of prey, not the mythical magician, in January 1935 and first flew in February of the same year. The first unit produced in any number produced 950 bhp @ 11000 ft. By the time Merlin III was being fitted to Hurricanes, output has been increased to 1030 bhp @ 16250 ft using 100 octane fuel.

This Hurricane was used in the latter part of the Battle of France as a part of 85 Squadron. Father is helping to refuel.

The ammunition for machine guns is carried on long belts inside the wings. The ammunition is kept in boxes which run through the browning machine guns, of which there are 4 in each wing, giving a firing display pattern which is illustrated in this drawing with the comparative ranges of cannon and machine gun fire. This particular Hurricane is of the early type which has the fabric covered wing.

Squadron Leader has received the thumbs up to taxi off ready for another sortie. Note early Hurricane cockpit.

A typical day in RAF apprenticeship training. Note the early fabric covered wing.

Most of the RAF pilots had confidence in the machines that they flew and also knew the quality and reliability of the machines. This particular shot was taken after a dog fight, with its wings all tattered to shreds and its engine out of action, it glided more than 20 miles and landed safely. The inserted picture of the tail plane shows the damage to the elevator and also note the bullet holes in the engine cowls and cockpit cowling, and that the canopy has dislodged from its rails.

A total production run of over 16000 units is adequate testimony to it’s qualities as an easy plane (for it’s type) to fly, a very stable gun platform and offered a certain immunity from cannon fire not enjoyed by it’s stressed metal constructed contemporaries. In addition the basic construction method was very little removed from earlier biplanes, the servicing of which was familiar to to the airframe fitters of the time.

From the production line…..