Hawker Hurricane IIC from below

Hawker Hurricane IIC from below

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Hawker Hurricane IIC from below

A view of the Hawker Hurricane IIC from below, showing the four 20mm cannon.

Hawker Hurricane IIC from below - History

Hurricane Mark II through to Mark V

Hawker Hurricane IIC & I Specifications (Mk I in brackets)
Type Monoplane (Monoplane)
Military Use Fighter (Fighter)
Power Plant Rolls Royce Merlin XX (Merlin II or III)
Horsepower 1,300hp (1,030hp)
Maximum Speed 327mph @18,000ft (325mph)
Climbing Rate 2,750 ft/min (2,420 ft/min)
Working Range 460 miles (600 miles) @175 mph
Empty Weight 5,658 lbs (4,670 lbs)
Loaded Weight 8,044 lbs (6,660 lbs)
Service Ceiling 35,000 ft (34,000 ft)
Wingspan 40 ft 0 in (40 ft 0 in)
Overall length 32 ft 3 in (31 ft 5 in)
Overall height 13 ft 3 in (13 ft 11.5 in)
Total Wing Area 258 sq feet. (258 sq feet)
Picture at top:
A Hawker Hurricane Mark I of 111 Squadron Northolt

But the Spitfire was taking longer to produce in the early stages, and it was the Hurricane that entered service first.
Whether it was slow to respond to pilots controls or the rate of climb, but all of the Hurricanes were no match for the Messerschmitt Bf109's which outclassed them.

As a Hurricane pilot I had a certain fear and respect for the Me 109. For one thing, it could dive faster. If an Me 109 pilot saw you, it would drop down taking a shot at you, go past, pull the stick back and start climbing very fast. You just couldn't keep up with him. The only way to overcome this was to roll over inverted and dive after him in positive g. When the 109 pulled up to level out or climb, we'd aileron-turn to right way up and see his plan view and get in a perfect shot.

The Hurricanes visibility was pretty good, except above and below to the rear. The mirror was useful, but not as effective as it might have been. I replaced mine with a curved rear view mirror, and actually felt it gave me a touch extra speed besides giving a better view.

I once looked in my mirror and saw the biggest, fattest Me 109 ever, or so it seemed. All at once his front lit up as he fired at me. The 109 went over the top, to be followed by my No.2, who was firing at me! When we got down I put him on gun practice for two days and told him "Don't shoot at your friends. and if you shoot at anything, make sure you hit it!"

Canadian variants

Some production of the Hurricane was carried out in Canada by Canadian Car and Foundry Co Ltd.

Hurricane Mk X

Single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber. Powered by a 1,300 hp (969 kW) Packard Merlin 28. The propeller unit was changed to a Hamilton Standard "Hydromatic" constant-speed unit often these aircraft lacked spinners. Eight 0.303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns mounted in the wings. In total, 490 were built.

Hurricane Mk XI

Hurricane Mk XII

Single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber. Powered by a 1,300 hp (969 kW) Packard Merlin 29. Initially armed with 12 0.303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns, but this was later changed to four 20 mm (.79 in) cannons.


The Hawker Hurricane was a mid century British single-seat fighter aircraft produced from 1937 to 1944, designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd. for the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was used throughout World War II along with the more well known Supermarine Spitfire, playing a significant role, for example, during Battle of Britain. There were various models of the Hawker Hurricane. The Hurricane Mk IIC introduced a 4 x 20mm Hispano cannon arrangement fitting two cannons in each wing. This provided major firepower against a variety of targets, whether at land, sea, or air.

Brass aircraft models of World War II planes — such as the offered example — were often made during the war by factory workers in Great Britain during their spare time using left-over brass at the factory. Generally, they are 1/72nd scale, varying in quality, with some mounted on bases. Models of British fighters that they made included the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, and Boulton Paul Defiant — the latter being a single-seater plane with a power-operated turret behind the pilot. British factory workers also made brass models of American planes including the Boeing B-17 , Consolidated B-24 Liberator, Lockheed P-38 Lightning, and the North American P-51 Mustang. World War II models of Axis power planes were apparently not made by the British workers.

Condition: Generally very good, the original lacquer finish to the plane with wear and minor scattered abrasions and handling. Base very good as well, probably original to the plane, also with the usual wear to finish, handling, etc.

Maurice Kanareck, emails to George Glazer Gallery, April 22, 2020 (correcting earlier posted discussion suggesting the model was a Spitfire model and quoted above).

James Moore, email to George Glazer Gallery, January 31, 2020 (correcting earlier posted discussion suggesting the model was a Spitfire model).

Hawker Hurricane From 1937 to 1950

As a Hawker Hurricane admirer and modeler, I've thought that my publications collection was quite comprehensive. I regularly write about books on my ‘Hurricane Bookshelf’ for the Seattle Chapter of the I.P.M.S. My collection includes the usual ‘staples’, such as the Profile Publications guides, the Squadron ‘In Action’ series, the ARCO-AIRCAM ‘Aviation Series’, and the more recent book in Osprey’s ‘Aircraft of The Aces’ series. I even own Richard A. Franks’ Hawker Hurricane: A Comprehensive Guide for the Modeler, only the second volume in the ‘Modellers Datafile’ series from SAM Publications. My brother Chris gave me the very first volume in Tempus Publishing LTD’s ‘Classic WWII Aviation’ series, by Edward Shacklady. I'm sure you all recognize these covers.

I didn’t think much more new would come along about the Hurricane, but at a recent meeting of the NorthWest Scale Modelers, our ‘Internet Modeler’ publisher Chris handed me this. It’s volume 14 of the ‘Planes and Pilots’ series put out by Histoire & Collections of Paris, France. (Copyright 2010.)

It's a slender volume of just 82 pages. But that's sufficient room for a very well written, compact history that starts with ‘From the Monoplane Interceptor to the Hurricane’, concluding with ‘The Foreign Users of the Hurricane’. Many of the black-and-white photographs illustrating these chapters were ones I’d seen before, but by no means all.

What really sets this book apart is that from page 13 on, there's one color profile after another after another! Illustrated are two typical examples. I know my scans don’t do them justice the detail work is excellent, and the color reproduction standards are very high.

Each caption gives a brief but exact history of the aircraft at the time it showed such markings.

Hawker Hurricane Mark IIC (BN230) from No. 43 Squadron, Tangmere, England, August 1942. Pilot: squadron leader Daniel "Danny’ Le Roy du Vivier. This Dutch-born Belgian joined the RAF after his country capitulated. Incorporated into No. 43 Squadron, he participated in part of the Battle of Britain and was sent to North Africa with his unit in September 1942. He finished the war as Wing Commander with three kills to his credit.

Hawker Hurricane Mark IIC (Z2909) from No. 1 Squadron, Redhill, England, May 1941. Lt. Jean Demozay obtained his third kill with this entirely black plane shooting down a He-111 during the night of 10-11 May 1941. Three days later he was promoted to Command ‘B’ flight of No. 1 Squadron. ‘Morelaix’ (Demozay’s code name in the FAFL –Free French Forces) ended the war with 18 confirmed kills and two probables which made him the third French WW2 ace.

Four such profiles are on each color plate page, and the overall total for the book is one hundred eighty-four.

Hurricanes had a mixed history as far as France is concerned. Early on, they were sent to help defend France, where nearly 400 were lost to the Nazi German juggernaut. Later, they fought Vichy France’s forces in Syria and North Africa. For the invasion of French North Africa, Hurricanes were marked with American-looking stars in the hope of mollifying French resistance. From the fall of France, through to its liberation, and right to the end of the war, Free French pilots flying Hurricanes made a significant contribution to the Allied war effort.

The last few pages are occupied with common finish and markings illustrations. The exact layout of the Hurricane’s famous ‘Temperate Land Scheme’ of 1938 to 1941, is done in dark green and dark earth in both Type ‘A’ and Type ‘B’ (mirror-image) patterns. Then there’s the ‘Day Fighter Scheme’ from August 1941, gray and dark green, and the ‘Desert’ or ‘Middle East’ scheme in sand-yellow and brown. The following two pages show various undersurface paint schemes, including examples of the black-and-white undersides used particularly for identification from below by the Observer Corps until about June of 1940, and graphics of the different kinds of roundels used on the Hurricane and other British aircraft, including the variants of the types A, B, and C, and the blue-on-blue of the Southeast Asian theater: no red in insignia to confuse Allied gunners looking out sharply for Japanese hinomarus (‘Rising Sun’ disks).

There are finely-drawn side views depicting the physical differences among the different Marks, including the Sea Hurricanes. Lastly, there’s a list of Hurricane squadron codes, with code letter combinations and squadron numbers both for the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.

Depicting all this variation in colors and markings was necessary, since Hurricanes served all over the world, over every conceivable kind and color of terrain, in a wide variety of roles, and was flown by pilots of many nationalities. Libraries would be needed to document them all, but this slender paperback (only about seven and three-quarters by nine and a half inches… or should I say, since it was made in France: 24 centimeters by 27) contains a good portion. The hundred and eighty-four profiles in this book ought to keep Hurricane modelers busy with paint and decals for awhile!

Hawker Hurricane IIC

While it is sometimes seen as the less glamorous partner to its famous contemporary the Supermarine Spitfire, to many people the Hawker Hurricane is the unsung hero of the Battle of Britain. It played a a vital role during the summer of 1940. Hurricanes destroyed more enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain than all the other air and ground defences combined. When armed with bombs, they were nick-named the ‘Hurri-Bomber’. The last Hurricane left the production line in July 1944 and today flies with the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. What an incredible opportunity to exclusively adopt an iconic piece of British history.

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Hawker Hurricane IIC from below - History

Constructed as a Hurricane IIC.

Taken on Strength/Charge with the Royal Air Force with s/n LF363.

To The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Coningsby, Coningsby, Lincolnshire/Lincs, England.
View the Location Dossier

Markings Applied: LE-D
Painted in the markings of 242 Squadron which, during the Battle of Britain, was based at RAF Coltishall under the command of Douglas Bader.

Photographer: Peter Nicholson
Notes: This Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Hurricane IIC attended the 1972 RAF Leuchars Airshow.

Photographer: Unknown Photographer

Photographer: Unknown Photographer

Photographer: Peter Nicholson
Notes: The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Hurricane II seen on a visit to Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

Photographer: Paul Thallon
Notes: Photo taken at Prestwick Airport.

Photographer: Robert Nichols
Notes: at RAF Brize Norton Airshow

Photographer: Paul Thallon
Notes: 1983 photo of Hawker Hurricane IIC at Greenham Common

Photographer: Robert Nichols
Notes: at RAF Abingdon Battle of Britain Day

Photographer: Robert Nichols
Notes: at RAF St Mawgan Airshow

Photographer: Peter Nicholson
Notes: This Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Hurricane IIC attended the 1988 RAF Mildenhall Air Fete.

Markings Applied: GN-A
Painted in the markings of Flight Lieutenant James Brindley Nicolson (VC), RAF No.249 Squadron, Boscombe Down, 16th August 1940.

Photographer: Robert Nichols
Notes: at RNAS Yeovilton Airshow

Photographer: Robert Nichols

Crashed on landing at RAF Wittering following an engine failure.

Contracted to Historic Flying Ltd, Audley End for work on the airframe.

Markings Applied: US-C
The work was carried out by Historic Flying.

Photographer: Ken Videan
Notes: In the 100 Years of Flight enclave at RIAT Fairford.

Photographer: David Miller
Notes: At Duxford, UK

Markings Applied: JX-B, P3395
Painted to represent a Hurricane Mk 1, the personal aircraft of Sergeant Pilot Arthur Darkie Clowes DFM, of No 1 Squadron during the Battle of Britain.

Photographer: Thomas Delvoye
Notes: RAF Fairford, UK

Markings Applied: GN-F, S
Each side now painted in different markings.

BBMF Hurricane (Last Of The Few) tribute to AC/DC Back In Black. :-)

Every few years, each of the aircraft within the Royal Air Force’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) receives a new paint scheme as a way of highlighting the enormous breadth of history and valiant actions which these aircraft represent. Typically, the BBMF times these repaints to coincide with major aircraft overhauls, and such was the case recently for the Flight’s Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc PZ865, which returned to its home at RAF Coningsby yesterday following rework at Biggin Hill now marked as a No.247 Squadron night fighter intruder aircraft, coded ‘ZY-V. As the BBMF press release notes…

BBMF’s Hurricane Mk IIc PZ865 first flew on 27th July 1944, the very last of 14,533 Hawker Hurricanes built. Fitted with four 20mm cannons and a Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine, it came off the production line at the huge Hawker aircraft factory at Langley with the inscription ‘The Last of the Many’ painted beneath the cockpit on both sides.

( Hurricane Mk IIC PZ865, ‘The Last of the Many’, on an early test flight in 1944, being flown by Hawker’s Chief Test Pilot, the hatless George Bulman, who had flown the maiden flight of the prototype Hurricane, K5083, on 6th November 1935. Bulman, therefore, flew the first test flights on the very first and very last Hurricanes. Photo via Battle of Britain Memorial Fligt.)

Wanting to preserve the final Hurricane ever built, the manufacturer purchased PZ865 back from the Air Ministry before she entered RAF service. For the next 28 years, Hawker (and its successor companies) used PZ865 in various capacities, including as a company ‘hack’, air racer, display aircraft, and for aerial sequences in films, including the famous movie ‘Battle of Britain’.

In 1972, a combination of limited resources and restricted hangar space at Hawker Siddeley’s Dunsfold facility forced the company to conclude that it could no longer maintain its collection of historic aircraft. The intervention of Duncan Simpson, who was then the Hawker Siddeley Chief Test Pilot, and his astute manoeuvring behind the scenes, gained sufficient permission to allow the Hurricane’s donation to the BBMF, which was then based at RAF Coltishall. In March 1972, before anyone could change their minds, Simpson flew PZ865 to Coltishall and handed the Hurricane over to the Flight. His arrival with this precious piece of British aviation history was unexpected, however. A BBMF Flight Sergeant greeted him as he climbed down from the aircraft saying, “Afternoon Sir, what have we here?” Duncan replied, “It’s a Hurricane, Flight Sergeant, a very special Hurricane, and I’m handing it over to you. Look after it and make sure it’s flying right into the future so that future generations can see it.”

The BBMF has done just that and Duncan Simpson’s wish to have this special Hurricane maintained in flying condition continues to be fulfilled more than 75 years after her first flight. The famous Hurricane went to Biggin Hill at the end of 2020 to undergo a ‘Major’ servicing with The Spitfire Company, which currently holds the MOD contract for ‘Majors’ on the BBMF fighter aircraft types. PZ865 has now emerged from the ‘Major’ in a new colour scheme as an all-black night fighter.

The original ‘ZY-V’ was Hurricane IIC BE634 of 247 Sqn, which was based at Predannack and Exeter in 1942, with her pilots involved in defensive night fighter patrols and night intruder operations over enemy territory. Unusually, the 247 Sqn Hurricanes wore half-sized roundels and code letters over their all-black night fighter camouflage. The all-black night fighter Hurricanes of 247 Sqn were used for night air defence of the Plymouth and Exeter area and for night intruder operations against targets in north-western France.

Hawker Hurricane built at Langley

In the mid-1930s, RAF Fighter Command consisted of 13 squadrons equipped with obsolete biplanes such as the Bristol Bulldog, Hawker Demon and Hawker Fury. In 1935, the Air Ministry issued Specification F.36/34 for a new high speed monoplane single seat fighter.

Sydney Camm, chief designer at Hawker Aircraft, who was constantly working on new fighter designs, submitted the prototype of the Hurricane. It was powered by the new Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and designed to carry eight machine guns in the wings.

The prototype, registered K5083, flew in November 1935 and the Air Ministry placed an order for 600 aircraft which was later increased to 1,000. The first production Hurricane, L1547, flew in October 1937.

The prototype was originally referred to as the Merlin

Performance Hurricane prototype K5083

Powerplant 1 x 900hp Rolls-Royce PV-12 driving a two-bladed fixed-pitch propeller

Maximum speed 315 mph at 16,200ft

The aircraft weighed 5,672 lbs and could take off in just under 800 ft. It could climb to 15,000ft in 5 minutes 42 seconds.

In 1936, Hawker Aircraft Ltd bought Parlaunt Farm, Langley, to build an airfield and factory. It was completed by the end of 1938. The factory produced one Hurricane per day but production was up to five per day by 1942.

The Battle of France

In September 1939, The RAF had 18 squadrons of Hurricanes and the first of six squadrons were sent to France to help stem the German invasion. They were joined in May 1940 by four more squadrons but the German Blitzkrieg had gained momentum by now and all the Hurricanes were withdrawn to Britain by the middle of June.

Hurricanes were next involved in Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of British, French and Belgian troops from Dunkirk, and the Battle of Britain which is covered in another page. During the Blitz the Hurricane became the main night-fighter until more specialised aircraft were developed.

Hurricane I of 2e Escadrille ‘Le Chardon’ Regiment 1/2 Belgian Air Force, Diest, 1940

Hurricane I of the Finnish Air Force

This aircraft was one of twelve supplied to Finland in 1939 to help in their fight against the Soviet Union during the Winter War. Later the two countries would unite against the threat of invasion by Germany.

The Battle of the North Atlantic

When France fell, a major priority other than the Battle of Britain was the protection of convoys in the North Atlantic. These convoys were bringing desperately needed supplies from North America to Britain and the Soviet Union but, with little or no air cover, they were vulnerable to attack from U-Boats and long-range Focke-Wulf Fw200 bombers.

A stop-gap measure came in the form of Hurricanes launched from a catapult on a merchant ship to intercept the bombers. After the sortie the pilot would then make for nearest landfall or ditch in the sea hoping to be picked up by one of the ships. The aircraft were known as ‘Hurricats’ by the pilots. Later, true Sea Hurricanes were produced, fully equipped to be operated from newly-available escort carriers.

Hawker Sea Hurricane Mk1A ‘Hurricat’ of the Fleet Air Arm Merchant Ship Fighter Unit, RAF Speke, 1941.

Sea Hurricane I P3114 code M of No 800 Squadron FAA, RNAS Gosport, 1940

Sea Hurricane I, Z7015

Owned by the Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden

In the desert war in North Africa in 1942, Hurricane MkIIs fitted with four 20mm cannon and provision for two 250 lb bombs proved successful in the ground attack role against German and Italian armour In Europe, Hurricanes flew night-time intruder or ‘rhubarb’ missions flying low over France attacking targets of opportunity such as railway lines and military installations.

Hurricane IID BP188 JV-Z 6 Squadron RAF, Egypt 1942 fitted with 40mm cannon under each wing for attacks on enemy armour.

Hurricane IID, BE581/JX-E Night Reaper

This aircraft was flown by the Czech ace Flt Lt Karel ‘Kut’ Kuttelwascher DFC, RAF No 1(F) Squadron, Tangmere in 1942. He flew intruder operations and in 15 missions ‘Kut’ shot down 15 enemy bombers .

A handful of Hurricanes flown by valiant pilots and ground crews defended Malta from June 1940 until early 1942 when reinforcements finally arrived.

Built in Canada, this Hurricane I has the civil registration G-HURI and belongs to the Historic Aircraft Collection at Duxford. It carries the military registration of Z5140 and squadron code H-AC representing one of the defenders of Malta.

In September 1941, two RAF Hurricane squadrons, 81 and 134, were sent to Russia help in the defence of Murmansk. During this deployment the RAF pilots shot down 15 German aircraft for the loss of one Hurricane. Soon after, 2,952 Hurricanes were supplied to the Soviet Union under a Lend Lease agreement.

A Hurricane IIB Z2585/42 of the Soviet Union

In 1942 Hurricanes were sent to Asia and fought throughout the war. The machines were becoming obsolete by now and there performance was further hampered by the fitting of tropical air filters under the nose.

A Hurricane IIC fitted with a tropical air filter and painted with Pacific theatre markings sent to the Far East in 1942.

14,451 Hurricanes were produced including 2,750 produced by the Gloster Aircraft company, 300 by the Austin Aero Company and 1,551 by the Canadian Car and Foundry, Ontario. Sea Hurricane numbers are a little bit sketchy because many were conversions from machines built as Hurricanes. The best number of custom-built Sea Hurricanes that the author can find is 885.

Other than the UK the Hurricane served the forces of several countries including: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Finland, India, Iran, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Soviet Union and Turkey.

This aircraft was the last Hurricane ever built and wore the inscription ‘The Last of the Many’ below the cockpit as it left Hawkers at Langley.

Performance Hurricane IIC

Powerplant 1 x Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine

Maximum speed 340mph at 21,000 ft

Armament consisted of 4 x 20mm cannon and provision for 2 x 250 lb or 2 x 500 lb bombs. Only 13 Hurricanes worldwide are maintained in airworthy condition, 6 of which are based in the UK.

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Hawker Hurricane N. F. Mk. IIC? (1 Viewer)

Hurricane Mk I of No.87 Squadron, seen during June 1941 just before the squadron completed a move to the Hurricane IIC.

Hurricanes of No.87 Squadron seen in flight during June 1941, the month which saw the squadron convert from the eight gun Hurricane Mk I (second from bottom) to the cannon armed Hurricane Mk IIC (bottom).


Lieutenant General

Lord Tunderin Jaysus, Jan, I went through 16 books and there was not one photo of a Hurricane from 504Sqn. and looking at most of the photos, one would think 87Sqn was the only one that flew Hurricanes during the war.


Forum Mascot

They don't make it easy for us, do they?

From its earliest service days the Hawker Hurricane single-seater proved a pleasant aeroplane to fly at night (unlike the Supermarine Spitfire), and as early as the Battle of Britain Hurricanes were regularly flying night patrols to complement those of the night-fighter Bristol Blenheims. For example No. 92 (Fighter) Squadron operated a detached flight at Bibury in Gloucestershire for this work, As the daylight battle petered out in October the Hurricane was increasingly flown at night and with the introduction of the more powerful Hurricane Mk II with progressively heavier armament (eight machine-guns in the Hurricane Mk IIA, 12 machine-guns in the Hurricane Mk IIB and four 20-mm cannon in the Hurricane Mk IIC), the aircraft not only performed night defensive patrols but also became increasingly used as an intruder over German bomber bases in northern France and the Low Countries. Among the best known night fighter/intruder squadrons to fly Hurricane Mk IIs in 1941-2 were Nos 1, 3, 46, 79 and 87 to them was ascribed the destruction of 52 enemy aircraft, 16 coastal vessels, 105 road vehicles and 17 locomotives during the last six months of 1941. Without question the most successful pilot of this mid-war period was Flight Lieutenant Karel Kuttelwascher (a Czech veteran of the Battle of Britain) of No, 1 (Fighter) Squadron, who scored his first ‘intruder’ victory, a Junkers Ju 88, on 1 April 1942 and went on to shoot down 14 more enemy aircraft (seven Dormer Do 217s, five Heinkel He Ills, a Dornier Do 17 and another Ju 88.) in the next eight weeks, for which he was awarded two DFCs: among his victories were three He 11 Is shot down over St André in the space of four minutes at midnight on 4/5 May, no mean feat for a single-seater without the benefit of radar.

The specialist night intruder Hurricane differed from its day fighter counterpart only in being painted matt black overall and having small antiglare panels between the engine exhaust stubs and the pilot’s windscreen. Hurricane Mk Us provided the first night-fighter equipment in the Middle East with the arrival of No. 213 Squadron in the Canal Zone in May 1941, and in May 1943 Hurricane Mk IICs with pilot-AI radar served with No. 176 Squadron in the Calcutta area.

Finally, mention should be made of the Turbinlite squadrons which, using searchlight- and AI-equipped Douglas Havocs and Douglas Bostons to locate enemy raiders, also flew Hurricane Mk IIBs and Mk IICs during 1942 an almost total absence of success, together with rapid development of AI radar, caused this wasteful and fruitless experiment to be abandoned in January 1943.

Hurricane Mk. U?? Must be a misprint, eh. instead for Mk. I, right?


Forum Mascot

The Hurricane was not a particular success as a night fighter, but it proved very suitable as a night intruder with squadron's like No 1 - where it was used with great effect by Flight Commander Karel Kuttelwascher and Squadron Leader James MacLachlan - and No 43, both of which were based at Tangmere at the time of conducting such operations.

As one of 43 Squadron's night intruder pilots Harry Lea puts it:

"The Hurricane IIC was a splendid aircraft for the job in hand. It had range with its two 45 gallon wing drop tanks, excellent armament with four 20 mm cannon, and it was a tough, solid aircraft that could withstand a great deal of punishment and still survive. This later point was proved at the Dieppe Raid when we suffered severely from ground fire and all but two aircraft returned, of which five sustained varying degrees of damage, one of these you would wonder how it managed to stay in the air".

There were three features which particularly distinguished the intruder Hurricanes from the ones flown by 1 and 43 Squadrons in the Battle of Britain: colour, armament and fuel.

Prior to being allocated to night intruder duties, night-flying Hurricanes tended to have a hybrid day and night colour scheme: upper and side surfaces in dark green and dark grey (day fighter) camouflage with lower surfaces including fuel tanks all black and no underwing roundels (night fighter). However, many intruder Hurricanes were painted matt black all over (except for the red spinner). It was appreciated that the matt finish on the aircraft could increase 'drag' and therefore reduce top speed, but the intruder - unlike the inceptor - did not depend on speed but on concealment.

In spite of the black colour scheme, the aircraft could still give itself away in the darkness because the exhaust manifolds used to glow red hot, so part of the maintenance routine was to apply very thick red lead paint to the manifolds. As 43 Squadron pilot Jack Torrance comments: "Even with the flame shields over the exhaust, I found the flickering blue flames strangely comforting over the water but, once over the French coast, one felt very conspicuous in the night sky". His squadron colleague Morrie Smith makes the same point: "I felt that everyone for miles around could see the exhaust stubs glowing in the night, but the anti-glare cowlings protected the pilot's night vision from this glow".

Godfrey Ball, another 43 intruder, remembers a disturbing occasion on the return from an operation:

"As I descended deeper into the cloud, I experienced a frightening phenomenon: the whole inside of the cockpit was lit up by a red glow. My immediate reaction was: 'Fire!' But there was no heat and all my instruments showed everything to be in order, so I ventured to look outside. My two exhaust manifolds were belching out the usual flame, made perhaps a trifle more red and less blue from being throttled back, and this source had illuminated the surrounding very dense cloud. It was an eerie sensation but, once I knew what it was all about, it ceased to trouble me".

The IIC was fitted with four 20 mm cannon, two in either wing, in place of the eight or twelve Browning machine guns on the earlier marks. These cannon were French Hispano-Suiza HS.404 guns. It was immediately obvious that a Hurricane was a IIC because its cannon protruded so far out of the leading edge of the wings - the overall length was of the guns was 8 ft 2.5 in - and the recoil springs stood out along the barrels. These protruding cannon had rubber covers like over-sized condoms, so that it was a simple matter for ground crew to see if a returning pilot had used his weapons.

On No 1 Squadron's intruder aircraft, the cannon's ammunition consisted of equal quantities of high explosive (HE) and ball (20mm or 0.787 in). The former exploded on impact to create a hole in the enemy aircraft and the latter was a solid steel missile designed to pierce the plating of the German planes. They alternated in the belt and, at a muzzle velocity of 2,880 feet per second, it did not take them long to reach their target.

Many think of the fighter aircraft of the Second World War as having a considerable volume of ammunition - certainly the movies give that impression. In fact, the available firing time of a Hurricane armed with cannon was even less than for one with machine guns, although of course there was much more power in the punch.

The IIC's carried a total of 364 rounds (91 per cannon) which - at an approximate rate of fire of 600-650 rounds per minute - was only long enough for about nine seconds of firing. So every second had to count and a typical burst would only be between one and three seconds.

Like all fighter armament, the IIC's cannon were aligned to focus at a point some way ahead of the aircraft. The original Hurricane had its machine guns aligned to converge at a point about 650 yards ahead, but later the distance was reduced to 400 yards. Finally, at the insistence of Squadron Leader P J H Halahan (the Commanding Officer of No 1 Squadron until May 1940), the alignment was further reduced to 250 yards.

Therefore successful night intruder pilots would position themselves behind the enemy, so as to escape observation, and a little above or below, so as to hit the fuselage, and the usual mode of attack would be to tuck in close and fire from a distance of 100-200 yards.

Use of cannon could be colourful. Godfrey ball of 43 Squadron recalls:

"When shooting up trains, the cannon shells would ricochet from both the engine strikes and from the permanent way (if you undershot when aiming at the guard's van) and looked remarkably like flak- blue, red, green and white. It almost seemed at times as if I were going to fly into my own bullets!".

Intruder operations over the Continent required plenty of fuel and so Hurricanes on such operations were fitted with two 45 gallon drop tanks, one under each wing. This additional 90 gallons of fuel, added to the 66 gallons in the two main tanks carried in the wings and the 28 gallons in the reserve tank located between the engine and the cockpit, provided a total of 184 gallons and took the overall combat weight to 8,000 lbs. If necessary, these drop tanks could be jettisoned by pulling a lever on the starboard side of the cockpit (what American pilots on long range Mustangs would later call, in characteristically colourful language, "punching your babies").

43 Squadron intruder Harry Lea points out: "Before carrying out an attack, we used to jettison our long range tanks. This was because, even when empty or partially empty, they were lethal when struck by enemy fire". So invariably the pilot - having started and taken off in the normal way on the main tanks - would use the fuel in these additional tanks before switching to his main tanks, in case he had later to release the drop tanks.

Another of the 43 Squadron intruder pilots, Godfrey Ball, recalls a particular problem about flying a Hurricane with drop tanks:

"This extra 90 gallons just about doubled our endurance in flying time. I always aimed to use this extra fuel up first. As we had no gauges for these extra tanks, it was necessary to time how long they had been in use very carefully for, if they ran dry, one was likely to get an air lock in the fuel system which, while not being disastrous, was very frightening, especially at night.

The Hurricane was fitted with a 28 gallon gravity tank which, when turned on, got rid of air locks very quickly, and it was fitted mainly for this purpose as air locks could also be caused by draining the main wing tanks. I allowed for a consumption of 60 gallons per hour so, when they had been on for an hour and a half, I would operate on the normal tanks. When actually in an area of possible combat, I always used the wing tanks rather than the auxiliaries.

One night over France, I ran the long range tanks dry by mistake and got an awful fright. I was only at about 500 feet when the red fuel warning light came on like a huge beacon in the darkened cockpit and, at the same time, the engine faded out. I had turned the reserve tank on in less than a spilt second but, although the engine responded quite readily, it seemed to me that it would never come good. It was only then that I found out how long 'immediate' could be, for the good book said that under such circumstances turning the petrol **** on to 'gravity' would bring an immediate response!".

The price of having drop tanks was a certain loss of manoeuvrability. As 43 Squadron Jack Torrance notes: "The old Hurricane gave a feeling of great reliability and steadiness, although it was sluggish in the air with the drop tanks full".

Of course, the benefit of the drop tanks was increased range. The combined fuel volume of 184 gallons enabled an operation to last - at a normal average consumption rate of around 50-60 gallons an hour - about three to three and a half hours and to cover - at an optimum cruising speed of about 170 mph - a range of about 900 miles. Since up to half the intruder pilot's fuel could be used reaching and returning from the general target area, his maximum time over the German bases would be around two hours. However, any action would increase fuel consumption and reduce the time available in the air and, in fact, a typical sortie would be about two to two and a half hours.

Now three or more hours was quite a long time to spend sitting in the fairly confined space of a Hurricane cockpit and some of the intruder pilots used to joke that an essential characteristic of those carrying out such operations should be a tough posterior.


Lieutenant General

Saw a couple of funny things in one of the books I was going through. Off to P.G. right now to pick up newly married #1 daughter, should be home in about 7 hours and I'll see if I can find it again.


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Now three or more hours was quite a long time to spend sitting in the fairly confined space of a Hurricane cockpit and some of the intruder pilots used to joke that an essential characteristic of those carrying out such operations should be a tough posterior.

Fortunately one of the attractive features of the Hurricane for its intruder role was that its cockpit was a little more spacious than some other fighter aircraft. Morrie Smith flew intruder operations with 43 Squadron and insists: "The Hurricane IIC was a very easy aircraft to fly and a good gun platform. Since the cockpit was so roomy, a pilot had room to stretch - a welcome exercise for a pilot compelled to sit for three to four hours on an uncomfortable dinghy attached to a parachute. For some reason, the escape equipment in the dinghy seemed after a while to be all edges and most uncomfortable!".

The night intruder operation was a specialist exercise requiring a pilot with keen eyesight, cool nerves, and the ability to seize a chance that would only last seconds. It involved flying a lone fighter over to the enemy's own airfields and seeking to destroy his bombers as they were taking off or landing. As such, it was a particularly furtive operation where success came from striking an opponent in the back when he was least expecting it.

Usually intruder activity took place during the two weeks around a full moon, known by the pilots involved as "the moon period". The moon assisted flying as well as the location of enemy bombers. As they waited for an operation, intruder pilots would tend not to read or write because the whiteness of the page would have dulled their vision. Indeed some pilots would prepare for such sorties by wearing 'dimmer' glasses - goggles with dark lenses - which protected their eyes from lights and accustomed them to the darkness which lay ahead.

In the course of the year or so that the RAF carried out these night intruder operations (Spring 1942-Spring 1943), the tactics rapidly went through various phases before settling on a combination of all of them.

At first, the RAF waited for the watchers on the coast to notify them that German bombers were on their way across the Channel seeking English targets. As soon as the Luftwaffe was over English soil, a few pilots would then set off singly and head for the Continent. They had to guess, from the direction of the bombers, which airfields the Germans were using. They would circle the enemy's bases, waiting for the Luftwaffe bombers to return. When the Germans did come back, they were at their most vulnerable: low on fuel, possibly the ammunition used up, and the crews tired and unsuspecting. The navigation lights and the slow speed of the bombers as they descended to the ground, plus the lights on the runway, all assisted the British pilot in locating and destroying the enemy.

The next phase came when it was decided to take more of the initiative, fly over to France early in the night, and try to find German bombers as they were actually taking off. This was a riskier kind of operation: the German crews were alert and the ammunition racks were full of rounds. Yet it had the marvellous advantage that, if successful, the sortie not only destroyed the enemy aircraft but also its bomb load which could not then be dropped on English targets.

The third phase grew up when the intruders could not find any aircraft to hit and, rather than return with the rubber sheaths still over the protruding cannon barrels, they looked for trains to attack. Railway lines usually stood out well in the black-out because they were so much straighter than roads. Trains betrayed themselves by red and yellow sparks from the engine and by plumes of smoke which gave the pilot some indication of wind direction and strength. The RAF told its pilots that the Germans imposed a strict curfew on the French and would not allow them to travel by night, so normally pilots would have no compunction about strafing the wagons and carriages as well as the engines.

In fact, the chances of finding and finishing German aircraft were low. Night after night, many of the pilots would not even see an enemy aircraft, let alone engage or destroy one. The Luftwaffe aircraft often returned to a different airfield than the one from which they had taken off and they had something like twenty bases from which to choose.

The Hurricane intruder operation was a lonely and dangerous kind of mission. Unlike the Douglas Havocs and de Havilland Mosquitoes which also performed night intruder operations, the Hurricanes had one engine and a single crew member. If the Merlin engine failed or the aircraft was badly damaged, the pilot would have to crash-land his aircraft and he was on his own. Navigation was almost by 'feel'. The pilot had to have one hand permanently on the control column and the Hurricane only had two little red cockpit lights, so there was no way to unfold cumbersome maps or - if one could - see them at all distinctly. Each aircraft was invariably alone, flying over enemy territory in the vicinity of well-defended airfields in circumstances which made them visible to the Germans. It is astonishing that there were not more fatalities.

By far the most successful of the RAF's night intruders was a Czech pilot with the unlikely name of Karel Kuttelwascher who flew all his successful intruder operations with the legendary No 1 Squadron. He was my father-in-law and his exploits were graphically described in my 1985 book "Night Hawk".

The Hurricanes of 1 Squadron commenced their intruder operations on 1 April 1942 and continued them until 2 July 1942. In the course of these three months, a total of about 140 night intruder operations were flown by a total of 19 pilots. Karel Kuttelwascher - or Kut, as he was known - flew 15 trips during which he managed to shoot down no less than 15 enemy aircraft - three of them on one night - and damage another five. These spectacular achievements won him the Distinguished Flying Cross twice in a mere 42 days and attracted the sobriquet 'the Czech night hawk'.

All of Kut's intruder victories were accomplished flying the same Hawker Hurricane IIC. It had the serial number BE581 and the squadron code letters JX-E. At the height of his success, he had an emblem painted on the starboard side of his aircraft. It depicted a scythe in yellow and across it a banner in red carrying the name 'Night Reaper', a gruesome image which reflected his acute sense of vengeance. The Frog company - which manufactured plastic construction kits until 1975 - used Kut's aircraft as the version of its Hurricane IIC model.

Early in 2005, the Royal Air Force's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at Coningsby in Lincolnshire, England, painted its Hawker Hurricane IIC PZ865 in the colour scheme of BE581 'Night Reaper'. The scheme includes 11 swastika kill markings under the cockpit sill on the port side (as seen in a contemproary newspaper photograph) as BE581 might have appeared the morning after 'Kut's' triple kill on 5 May 1942. The BBMF aircraft will wear this scheme for the next few years as it performs at air displays around the country.

Watch the video: HAWKER HURRICANE MK IIC: Flight of 2 Hurricanes HAWKER HURRICANE MK IIC: Passage de 2 Hurricane


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