The Hawker Hurricane was the first single-wing fighter to enter
service at the RAF
(Royal Air Force) of Great Britain, during the 1930s.
The Hawker Hurricane is often lesser known than its bedmate, the
Supermarine Spitfire, both active during the same era. The
project that would give birth to the Hurricane was started in
early 1934 by chief designer at Hawker Aircraft at Kingston upon
Thames, Sydney Camm (later knighted for his efforts). Hawker
was at the time working on a fighter project known as the Fury
Monoplane, which was designed around the Rolls-Royce Goshawk
steam-cooled engine. Sydney, however, discovered that Rolls-Royce
were about to develop a new, much more powerful and modern,
engine - the PV-12 Merlin which offered better performance, and
Hawker called for the redesign of the Fury Monoplane design into
what would become the Hurricane. On October 23, 1935 the first
prototype made its maiden flight from the
Brooklands motor racing circuit at Weybridge in Surrey. The
prototype was serial numbered K5083, and equipped with the
Rolls-Royce Merlin C PV-12 engine. On October 12th, 1937 - the
first production aircraft flew from the Brooklands, now equipped
with the Rolls-Royce Merlin II at 1030 horsepower.
During the Battle of Britain, 527 Hurricanes and 321 Spitfires
were deployed to counter the 2,700 German aircraft. A monstrous
task, and the Hurricane passed with flying colors - being the
aircraft accredited with the most kills during the period, 1500.
The only Victoria Cross ever awarded a fighter pilot was Ft.
Lt. James Nicholson, who piloted a Hurricane; the highest scoring
pilot during this battle was Sergeant Josef Frantisek with 17
victories, also a Hurricane pilot.
The Hurricane was a sturdy and reliable aircraft. Much more so
than the more agile and nimble Spitfire. Because of the
difference in their performance, Hurricanes was usually assigned
to attack bomber planes, whereas Spitfires had the task of
defending the Hurricanes from enemy fighters. Soon, however, the
Hurricane was rendered outdated as a fighter but was assigned new
roles and tasks.
Versions of the Hurricane
Hurricane Mark I
Rolls-Royce Merlin II or III engine.
Eight .303 Browning Machine Guns (four per wing).
Fabric cover, no armor, no self-sealing tanks.
Retrofitted in 1939 with armor, metal skin, self-sealing tanks,
Retrofitted in 1940 with Air Filters and cleaners for desert
Sea Hurricane Mk.I
Used the Rolls-Royce Merlin II or III engine, and appeared in
Mk.IA (1941) Catapult spools and slinging gear for aircraft
carrying ships, and naval radios.
Mk.IB (1941) Catapult spools and deck arrestor hook, for use at
Mk.IC Same as the Mk.IB, but armed with four 20mm Hispano
Hurricane Mark II
The Mk.II was fitted with the Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine,
slight alterations to the wings were made to fit more weapons.
New engine mounting, strengthening of fuselage and landing gear
was implemented to accomodate for the increased weight.
Mk.IIA (1940) Using the wings of the Mk.I (8 machine guns).
Mk.IIB (1940) Added two machine guns in each wing, now totaling
twelve guns, six in each wing. Racks for two 250 or 500 pound
bombs or two 45 or 90 gallon drop-tanks. Tropical versions
Mk.IIC (1941) Armed with four 20mm Hispano Cannons. Racks for two
250 or 500 pound bombs or two 45 or 90 gallon drop-tanks.
Tropical versions available.
Mk.IID (1943) Used two 40mm cannons, and two .303 Machine guns.
Additional armor was put in place.
Sea Hurricane Mk.II
Deployed a Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine, and was basically a
sea-version of the Hurricane Mk.II, fitted with naval radio, deck
Mk.IIA Used a Packard-Merlin 29 Engine, and was built in Canada.
Basically a sea-converted Hurricane Mk.XIIA.
Never in production, was basically a Mk.II fitted with a
Used a Rolls-Royce Merlin 21 or 22 engine, and fitted with an
extra 350 pounds of armor. Wings modified so to use a variable
armament (so called Universal Wing).
- Two 40mm Cannons and two .303 machine guns.
- Eight rockets and two .303 machine guns.
- Two 250 or 500 pound bombs, and two .303 machine guns.
- Two 45 or 90 gallon drop-tanks, and two .303 machine guns.
Only two were ever built. Rolls-Royce Merlin 27 or 32 engine.
Used the Universal Wing system as the Mk.IV.
Built in Canada, and used the Packard-Merlin 28 engine.
Basically a Mk.I with a different engine.
Canadian built Mk.II with Packard-Merlin 29 engine.
Canadian built Mk.IIA with Packard-Merlin 29 engine.
Canadian built Mk.IIB with Packard-Merlin 29 engine.
The Hurricane stretches 32 feet and 3 inches in length,
from the nose cone to the tail fin. And spans 40 feet wide
from wingtip to wingtip. From the highest point to the lowest
with its undercarriage extended, the Hurricane height is 13
feet and 1.5 inches. The wing area is 257.5 square
The wings of the Hurricane consisted of a framework of
wooden ribs and metal piping, originally covered in fabric, but
later a stressed-metal skin was used for better protection
against enemy fire. The wing-fitting is of low-wing/cantilever
style, and are tapered off into a rounded section which
distinguished them in the air from their opponents fighters often
Fairly wide gear track at 7 feet and 10 inches. It could be
retracted into the wings. Supported by Vickers shock absorbers,
and using Dunlop wheels and Dowty hydraulic rams. The tail wheel
A very rigid structure of steel and aluminium alloy. Held
together by hollow rivets. The forward section of the plane had
detatchable sections for fast repair/deassembly, and the rear was
covered with fabric, and the structure in light wood. The tail
fin was built from metal, and covered in fabric. The canopy slid
back to open, and was fitted with a quick release which would
unfasten the whole bubble immediately. There was also an escape
hatch/panel in the side of the fuselage. The windshield was
shatter proof, and the cockpit had armor plating in front of and
behind the pilot.
The Hurricane deployed the Rolls-Royce Merlin PV-12 cylinder
liquid cooled engine. The radiator is housed under the fuselage
below the cockpit, using air intakes with the oil cooler
integrated into it. The engine used two main fuel tanks together
with a gravity tank, which were all made from self-sealing
The Hurricane used a wide range of weapons depending on its role
and/or model. Eight or Twelve Browning Caliber .303 machine
guns; Four 20mm Hispano cannons; Two 40mm Cannons and two .303
Browning Machine Guns. The guns were all mounted in the wings.
The Mk. IV ( also called Mk. IIE ) used a so-called "Universal
Wing" system, which allowed the user to mount many different
types of armament on the plane. The Hurricane also had under-wing
mounts for two 250lb or 500lb bombs (or auxiliary fuel tanks). Or
sported eight rails for mounting rockets. The Hurricane was also
equipped with navigation lights, landing lights, oxygen
equipment, and radio.
Maximum speed: 340 mph
Service Ceiling: 35000 feet
Weight: 7200 pounds
Range: 468 miles with internal tanks.