The Hurricane was designed by Hawker Aircraft Limited's Sydney Camm in 1934 for the RAF as a fighter built around the Rolls Royce V12 Merlin engine.
Prior to the Hurricane the RAF were only equipped with bi-planes, namely the Hawker Fury, Hawker Hart or Bristol Bulldog.
The Hurricane was designed to utilise many existing jigs and fixtures and consequently became a single wing version of the well regarded Hawker Fury.
The prototype Hurricane first took to the air on 6th November 1935 flown by Flight Lieutenant P. Bulman, Hawkers Chief Test Pilot, and the first production Hurricane flew on 12 October 1937, and was delivered to No. 111 Squadron RAF Northolt two months later.
Due to the Hurricane utilising existing design and manufacturing technology the aircraft was 'mechanically' constructed unlike the 'up-to-date' welding methods utilised by most other fighters at the time. The fuselage was constructed of tubes and wooden battens, known as longerons, and covered with linen which was doped to make it taught.
The original wings were also covered with fabric, although this structure was relatively old in design it had the advantage that bullets and cannon shells generally passed through the structure without exploding which made the Hurricane extremely durable.
Due to the 'basic' construction of the Hurricane it was relatively easy to repair by RAF ground crew, using readily available tools, at the airfield which minimised maintenance time.
By the middle of 1939 stressed aluminium wings were introduced to the Hurricane and replaced the fabric covered wings after damage and during servicing. The metal covered wings were a lot stronger and allowed an increase of 80mph to the diving speed.
The cockpit of the Hurricane was placed high up on the fuselage to give the pilot a good all round field of vision.
The Hawker Hurricane was produced between 1937 and 1944, with 14,487 built.
Rolls Royce Merlin XX V-12, producing 1,185 hp.
Press play to hear the Hurricane
8 x Browning 0.303” machine guns
500 lb (227 kg) Bomb load
The Hawker Hurricane was reaching RAF Squadrons by mid-1938 with production keeping up with the RAF’s demand. By the outbreak of the war, there were sixteen operational Hurricane squadrons with 2 more being converted.
During 1939, Hurricanes formed the principal RAF fighter squadrons with two being sent to France forming 67 Wing and two more forming 60 Wing.
On 21 October 1939, the Hurricane, with No. 46 squadron, had its first action intercepting a formation of Heinkel He 115B floatplanes, claiming five kills.
During the evacuation of Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo), Hawker Hurricanes from British bases, claimed 108 air victories though 22 pilots were killed and three were captured.
After the fall of France, the Germans turned their attention to over the channel with the Battle of Britain which lasted from 10 July to 31 October 1940. The RAF claimed 2,739 victories with the Hurricane accounting for 55% of the German losses.
The highest scoring Squadron during the Battle of Britain was No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron who operated Hurricanes.
The Sea Hurricane became operational in mid-1941with its first kill on 31 July 1941 operating from HMS Furious.
The Hurricane was also used as a night fighter and proved to be relatively easy to fly in these conditions. It was also used as a night patrol aircraft over the German airfields in France looking for bombers that were taking off or landing and catching them off-guard.