One of the most significant appeals of the Hawker Hurricane to the British Air Ministry was its relatively cheap, simple construction and ease of manufacture.
In contrast to the Spitfire's complex, semi-monocoque airframe and duralumin covered wings and fuselage, Hawker opted for a more traditional construction technique with a central structure comprising a Warren truss box-girder of high-tensile steel and duralumin cross bracing. Over this, a secondary wooden structure was created with wooden formers and stringers covered in doped linen, leaving only the section between the cockpit and engine cowling covered in lightweight metal panels.
The advantage of the steel-tube structure and wooden external framing was that cannon shells could pass right through the wood and fabric covering without exploding. Even if one of the steel tubes were damaged, the repair work required was relatively simple and could be done by ground crew at the airfield.
In May 1940, No’s 3, 79 and 504 Squadrons were sent to France to reinforce earlier units as Germany's Blitzkrieg began to gather pace. During the 11 days of fighting in France and over Dunkirk, Hurricane pilots claimed 499 kills with another 123 probables.
While initial engagements with the Luftwaffe proved the Hurricane to be a highly agile fighter, its wooden two bladed propeller was extremely underpowered along with its original Merlin I engine - which ran on standard 87 octane aviation fuel. It was not until the supply of 100 octane fuel from the US, together with the installation of the new Merlin II & III engines - with their supercharge boosters and a three bladed propeller, that the Hurricane came into its own.
The superchargers increased engine output by nearly 250 hp, giving the Hurricane an increase of speed up to 35 mph and greatly increased its climb rate. This provided the Hurricane with a significant edge over the Bf-109E and the Bf-110C. By the end of June 1940, following the fall of France, 31 of Britain’s Fighter Command's 61 fighter squadrons were equipped with Hurricanes. It was none too soon...In July of that year the Luftwaffe turned their attention to the British mainland - the Battle of Britain had begun.
Surprisingly at the end of that intense conflict, it was the Hurricane that scored the highest number of RAF victories - accounting for 55% of the 2,739 German losses, compared with 42% by the Supermarine Spitfire.
With Rommel's continuing advances in North Africa, a number of Hurricanes were quickly topicalised and shipped to Egypt to replace the antiquated Gloster Gladiator biplanes taking a hammering by the Bf-110’s and 109’s.
Although achieving initial successes in North Africa, with the arrival of the more advanced Bf-109E's, the Hurricanes began to suffer significant losses and were soon replaced by the faster Curtiss Tomahawks and Kittyhawks.
A number of Hurricanes also served in the Far East as bomber escorts and ground attack fighters but were no match for the more advanced Japanese fighters. Others were adapted for maritime use with the British Fleet Air Arm.
Known as the Sea Hurricane, they achieved an impressive kill-to-loss ratio, primarily while defending Malta convoys and operating from escort carriers in the Atlantic Ocean. Some were also launched by catapult from merchant ships. Unable to return to their ships after launch, the Hurricane pilots either ditched close to the ship or tried for the mainland. By the end of production in July 1944, 14,487 Hurricanes had been completed in Britain and Canada.
All Hawker Hurricane Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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