Hawker Hurricane Mk 1 (V6995) - Under Construction

Britain's first monoplane fighter

No built : Hawker : 10.030;   Gloster 2750;   Canadian Car and Foundry : 1451.

After at least three abortive searches for the remains of Hurricane V6995 that crashed in Co. Durham in 1942, members of the Museum located the site and excavated the remains, after digging down eventually to about five meters. The remains are now on show at the Museum.

The Hurricane project was officially started in February 1935, originally as a private project, but later under ministry specification F36/34. Effectively, it was derived from the Fury biplane.

Sydney Camm, the designer, had actually started a design before this, in late 1933, for a Gos-powered four gun fighter, this becoming 8 guns with retractable undercarriage.

The aircraft first flew on 6. November 1935 at Brooklands. It entered the RAF in December 1937.

Although the aircraft was more conventional than aircraft like the Spitfire it did make use of the Rolls Royce Merlin (although untried). Bulman at Brooklands.

1936 Hurricane prototype reached a top speed of 500 km/hr at 5000 meters, exceeding the Air Ministry requirement for 440 km/hr, and in fact becomming the first fighter plane to fly faster than 500 km/hr. .

On 6 March 1936, the first flight of the Spitfire took place, piloted by 'Mutt' Summers from Eastleigh Airport in Southampton.

Two months before the Hurricane was completed in 1935, the Messerschmidt Bf109 and Heinkel 112 had been flying (although General Leutnant Udet is on record as stating that the Messerschmidt would "never make a fighter").

The structure was similar to preceeding biplanes, differing in having a sliding cockpit hood, eight Browning guns in the wings, where no synchronization gear was needed, and a hydraulic system with an engine-driven pump, driving the retractable landing gear, and split flaps along the entire trailing edge, between the ailerons. The dependence on fabric covering was by this time obsolete, and was only justified by the increasing pressure from the RAF to obtain new types quickly.

Apart from being one of the first with retractable gears, it was one of the first with air/oil (oleo) shock struts, instead of rubber or springs.

By 1939, stressed-skin metal wings were produced, by which time the Hurricane had other developments, like bulletproof windshield, self-sealing tanks and armor. By 1940 the two-blade wooden propellor had been replaced by a three-blade constant-speed type. Instead of eight machine guns, it now had twelve, or four 20mm cannon. The Mk. 1 was Britain's principal aircraft in the Battle of Britain, destroying more enemy aircraft than all other defenses combined.

The rest of the Hurricane construction was identical in principle to the biplanes of the 1920s. This did howver make field repairs easier (allegedly).

The original models were started by ground staff cranking on both sides of the engine. Later models had electric starters.

There were 98 people on the team when the prototype flew. By the end of the war, the number was 320.

Sydney Camm confided to Bill Gunston that he was surprised that the Hurricane had survived to the end of the War (although not in Western Euriope). By 1938 he had started working on a new aircraft, the Typhoon, which first flew in 1943 - although as a ground-attack aircraft, not a fighter.

A total of 2,952 Hurricanes were delivered to the USSR, but they appear to have considerd it too slow.

The RAF had 497 Hurricanes at the outbreak of the Second World War.

In the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane accounted for 80% of the aircraft downed by Fighter Command. At the beginning of the Battle of Britain the RAF had 32 squadrons of Hurricanes and 19 squadrons equipped with Supermarine Spitfires. It was decided to use the Hurricanes against the massive bomber formations of the Luftwaffe whereas the Spitfires were mainly employed against German fighters.

The Hurricane was about 50 km/hr slower than the Bf109, and less maneuverable than the Spitfire.

On August 24, some bombs had been dropped on London. August 1925, minor damage was caused in Berlin, also for the next four nights. Next week London around the clock, RAF unable to cope. September 15, one last big raid over Britain, over 300 fighters attacked.


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Brian Daugherty.