Hawker Hurricane

Hawker Hurricane (“Hurricane” in English) was the first modern British fighter before the outbreak of World War II. Until 1941 the Hurricane was the most widely used fighter by the Royal Air Force and the one that bore the brunt of the first clashes with the aircraft of the Luftwaffe in the skies of France and Britain.

Nearly 3,000 aircraft of this type were delivered to the USSR, to the law Rentals & Loans, but the Soviet pilots were generally very critical of the Hawker fighter, considered to be lower, not only to the German fighters, but also to their own.


Originally designed by Sidney Camm as a “Hawker Fury monoplane,” driven by a motor Goshawk and equipped with a fixed landing gear with wheels keeled, the Hurricane was soon changed, already in the design phase, in order to accommodate the much more powerful engine PV.12 (Merlin), was equipped with a retractable landing gear and armed with four machine guns no longer 0303, but with eight, a new solution until then.

Compared to most famous Supermarine Spitfire, which among other things the same engine mounted Merlin, was slower, but from its had a greater robustness, simplicity (some parts of the aircraft had surface telata) and economy of service. The technical features were, coating canvassed in part, those of a modern monoplane fighter: tricycle retractable landing gear, enclosed cockpit, Merlin engine II from 1030 to HP-cylinder liquid-cooled, preparation for radio and an armament of 8 Browning 7.7 mm, making it possible to shoot up to 10,000 rounds per minute (1.8 kg / s of bullets). The coating was largely in painted canvas, except that in the front part of the fuselage and the wing. The two-bladed wooden propeller was at first but soon was replaced by a three-blade metal.

Operational use

As of September 1, 1939, 497 units delivered equipaggiavano 18 squadrons, the Spitfire squadrons 11 and 300 units respectively. By August 7 August 1940 they were delivered not less than 2,309 copies. In 1940, the rate of production of Gloster reached the figure of 130 units per month. At that time, the original two-bladed wooden propeller the type Watts was replaced by a propeller with three blades with variable pitch Rotol 227 kg instead of 43.

It was said that the propeller Rotol transformed the Hurricane performance from “disappointing” to “acceptably mediocre.” The planes were so modified as a result, certainly much sought after in the Squadron which was attended by Hurricane still with the old de Havilland propeller two positions.

The star of numerous air battles, destroyed more German aircraft than any other British aircraft in the Battle of Britain, significantly contributing to the turning of the tide of the war, because it was easy to produce, repair and drive. Its turning radius was the best of all single-seat fighter of the RAF and Luftwaffe, although the performance of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 were considerably higher.

The Phoney War (The Phoney War)

At the request of the French government to provide 10 Squadron RAF fighter as air support, the ‘Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Commander-in-Chief of RAF Fighter Command, said that this would have significantly weakened the defensive capabilities of the British, so initially, only four Squadron were sent to France: the 1st Squadron RAF, 73 Squadron RAF ‘s 85th Squadron RAF el’ 87 Squadron RAF. The first to land on French soil was the 73rd Squadron, 10 September 1939. Soon, even the RAF 607 Squadron and 615 Squadron RAF reached the first units arrived on French soil.

The Hurricane had their baptism of fire Oct. 21, 1939. That day, the squadron “A” of the 46th Squadron took off from North Coates satellite, on the coast of Lincolnshire, to fulfill a mission of patrolling the Wash Coast to locate a formation of Heinkel He 115 B of 1/KuFlGr 906, looking for merchant to bomb, on the North Sea. Seaplanes The Germans had already been attacked and damaged by two 72 Squadron Spitfire, Hurricane when they spotted them. The Heinkel flew low over the sea, hoping to avoid the attacks of the British fighters. Nevertheless, the six Hurricane succeeded in a short time to knock down four (on their return to the base, the pilots of Hurricane declared the killing of five Heinkel, while the Spitfire pilots were attributed the ‘killing of two seaplanes).

Battle of France

In May 1940 the Squadron 3, 79 and 504 units joined by Hurricane already deployed, as the Blitzkrieg manifested itself in all its power. On May 10, the first day of the Battle of France, the Captain RE Lovett and “Fanny” Orton, of the 73rd Squadron, were the first RAF pilots to engage in combat air forces of the German invasion. They attacked one of the three Dornier Do 17, 4./ KG2 flying on ‘airport Rouvres. The Dornier flew away without a scratch while Orton was hit by defensive fire and forced to make an emergency landing. On that same day, the Squadron Hurricane declared the killing of 42 German planes during 208 sorties, but, significantly, none of these was a fighter. In contrast, seven were shot down Hurricane, although no pilot was killed. 

On May 12, 1940, several units of Hurricane were engaged in bomber escort. That morning, five Fairey Battle of the 12th Squadron, took off from the base of Amifontaine to bomb bridges and Vroenhoven Veldvedzelt on the Meuse, at Maastricht. The escort was composed of eight Hurricane Squadron 1, with the Major PJH “Bull “Halahan to the command.

When the English team came in Maastricht, was attacked by 16 Bf 109E, 2./ JG 27. Two and two Battle Hurricane (including that of Halahan) were shot down, two more Battle were precipitated by flak and the fifth had to make an emergency landing. The 1st Squadron claimed by its four Messerschmitt if – wrongly – Two Heinkel He 112, while the Luftwaffe, in fact, lost only one Bf 109.

The first clashes with the Luftwaffe showed that the Hurricane could turn very tight proving a stable shooting platform, but the ‘Watts two-bladed propeller was clearly unsuitable. At least one pilot complained of how a Heinkel He 111 was able to leave him behind during a chase and at that time the Heinkel was considered obsolete. During the fighting was another problem emerged: the pilots could be trapped in the ‘cockpit if the enemy fire damaging the rails of the canopy. The solution was the installation of a canopy ejection. In addition, mirrors were installed to gain visibility to the rear. The tanks of the fuselage, also, were covered with self-sealing materials.

Battle of Britain

At the beginning of the Battle of Britain, many of the problems of development had been exceeded. And, from June 1940, were built Hurricane 100 a week, the factories of Hawker in Kingston-upon-Thames and Brooklands, and Gloster, in Brockworth.

In combat, the Hurricane proved slightly slower both the Spitfire I and II, both of Messerschmitt Bf 109, but was able to overcome in turn both.

It was also a stable shooting platform and demonstrated his strength when several vievoli, although badly damaged, managed to return to base. The Hurricane also proved suitable to operate from rough surfaces and grassy fields, where the large carriage and better view than is allowed by the Spitfire were greatly appreciated by the drivers.

A lesson learned in combat had been that even eight .303 caliber machine guns could not guarantee the aerial victory against monoplanes that moved quickly.

As a result they were fitted with two 20mm cannons but tests showed that the two Hispano reduced the maximum speed to 468 km / h at 3,990 meters of altitude, certainly not ideal in view of a fight.

Soviet Union

Ben Hurricane 2,952 were sent to the Soviet Union, where some were outfitted with shoes. But the Soviet pilots appreciated the little Hurricane. Marshall GV Zimin wrote in his memoirs that “fight in a Hurricane was like fighting a pterodactyl flying. It was unique, he said, by an aerodynamic point of view: it picked up speed in a dive and immediately lost speed in pull-up “. The Soviet pilot Nikolai G. Golodnikov, who fought and achieved aerial victories on hunting Hawker, in an interview with Andrei Sukhrukov, recalled:

The Soviets comparing the 7.7 mm Browning machine guns that equipped the Hurricane supplied to them, to their ShKAS in terms of reliability. But noticed that often the Browning inceppavano because of the dust. To work around this problem, the Soviet gunsmiths pasted gingham patches on the holes of the machine guns, which were punctured by the first bullets just opened fire. But their efficicacia remained low when used at distances between 150 and 300 meters.

The fighter pilot Vitaly I. Klimenko, recalled:


The air battles on ‘Arakan in 1943, represented the last large-scale use of’ Hurricane as a day fighter “pure”. But the Hawker monoplane was still employed in the role of fighter-bomber in Burma until the end of the war, but were still involved in aerial combat. Like when Flg Off Jagedish Chandra Verma of No 6 Sqdn of Indian Air Force, shot down a Japanese Ki-43 Oscar: this was the only aerial victory of the IAF in the conflict.

The Hurricane remained in service as a fighter-bomber on the Balkans and in the motherland, where, however, was mainly used in tasks rearguard although, occasionally, it was still controlled by boards, such as the Sqdn Leader ‘Jas’ Storrar that the mid- 1944 flew No 1687 Hurricane to deliver priority mail to Allied armies in France during the Normandy invasion.


Soon he was initiated to the production model Mk.II, with a more powerful version of the Merlin engine, the model XX – produced by dl mid 1940. This engine was equipped with a “super-charger” two-speed that rose up the power to 1,185 hp, 155P more of Merlin III. Instead of using, as the Merlin II and III, pure glycol as a coolant, the Merlin X used a mixture of 30 percent of glycol and 70 percent water. The pure glycol is flammable, so not only the new mixture was safer, but the engine was running at about 70 º Celsius temperature less, which gave the engine a longer life and greater reliability. The new engine, also, was longer so the Hurricane gained 4.5 inches in front of the passenger compartment, which made ​​the plane slightly more stable due to slight forward displacement of the center of gravity.

This engine was to revitalize the Spitfire but he chose instead to turn to the most senior project by any chance still operating at the forefront.

The subtype Hurricane Mk.IIA, following the prototype, it reached 551 km / h, 9 less in the model configuration in non-operational. In the wings was eight machine guns.

The model Mk.IIB was perhaps the most famous: as many as 12 Browning 7.7 mm, often reduced to 10 due to the rapid rearmament otherwise rather compromised even had a capacity of ground attack with bombs up to 454 pounds. Many specimens Russians had 6 12.7 mm caliber machine guns, and sometimes a seventh firing from behind in the defensive function. The only case in which the aircraft encountered the use of weapons in this category.

The next Mk.IIC was instead the most powerfully armed era of car: 4 guns Hispano-Suiza HS.404, produced in England, in the wings, with 394 hits. Was a little slower also of the previous (in turn less fast model A): in fact reached the 336 mph (541 km / h). It exploited its power to increase the volume of fire in general, because the 7.7 mm were very ineffective against most of the aircraft and vehicles, armored or not.

Mk.IID was the version of “anti-tank” with the guns of 40 mm caliber machine guns and 2 underwing 7.7 to adjust the shot, additional armor and other equipment.

From the second version Mk.II, despite the general improvement achieved by the new engine (the prototype could fly as fast as the Emil, nickname of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 E version) was gradually relegated to the role of fighter-bomber.Among other uses, to tankbusters (tank destroyer) as the Mk.IID, with 2 anti-tank guns of 40 mm (50 mm to 30 degrees of penetration) that proved effective even if vulnerable.

Two episodes to clarify its strengths and weaknesses. In the spring of 1943, a column of Panzer motocorazzata was totally destroyed by an attack led by 19 tankbusters within a few minutes. In El Alamein pilots instead of 2 squadrons reported high losses against dozens of targets, including 40 German tanks, reported as destroyed.

Other improved models were the Mk.IV, with an even more powerful engine (1,650 hp). Despite the further increase in power, the car had begun its downward and not returned to the forefront as a fighter, but was used with different combinations of weapons for the attack.

The Sea Hurricane Mk IA was a Hurricane Mk I modified by General Aircraft Limited. These transformations riguardarono approximately 250 aircraft, modified to be transported by civilian ships or auxiliary equipped with a catapult to launch a plane, but without the ability to make it land or even just catch up.

So if the plane was not close enough to a land base the pilot had to land in the sea or bail out. Both of them behaved drawbacks. Several pilots were killed hit by the tail, in an attempt to bail out. And ditch with a Hurricane entailed other problems. The large radiator under the nose acted as a brake aquatic and Hurricane sinking of the muzzle, while the flood water from the outlet of the radiator flooded the cabin and then had to leave in a hurry because the plane sank immediately. They were more than eighty changes necessary to convert a Hurricane into a Sea Hurricane, including new radios conform with those used by the Fleet Air Arm and new tools to read in knots knots in the water rather than land.

The opponents

The plane, despite being heavy on command, fought fiercely in Malta and in Africa. In the western theater proved so a good game, even though soon outclassed by the Messerschmitt Bf 109E. For the Royal Air Force was a dangerous opponent, as superior in speed to hunt as the FIAT CR.32 biplanes and the Fiat CR.42, even though there have been reliefs on the Italian side, thanks to the superior handling of the biplanes of the Royal Air Force , acrobatic enhanced by the Italian school. And in the fighting over the English Channel in November, 1940, the CR.42 proved to be able to overcome easily maneuver in the hunt for the Fighter Command. The eight 0,303-caliber machine guns (the caliber of a rifle) is not inflicted considerable damage.

The Hurricane proved to be a difficult opponent for the Fiat G.50, especially on the front of the Balkans, but the Macchi MC200 was often the winner on the British fighter. “The MC 200 soon proved our best hunting era: its entry into the front line greek-Albanian confirmed it with many successes on ‘” Hurricane”.  

The Macchi had a little motor and a powerful armament of only two machine guns. “Despite what this aircraft, in clashes with British Hurricane, proved effective, as it has excellent skills for close combat and no special defect”.

The Macchi 200 could compete in performance and be superior in maneuverability at lower altitudes to 5,000 meters, but was left behind in firepower, armor and at altitudes above 6,000 meters was too limited by the lack of engine power, especially against the Mk.II. The successor of the MC. 200, the Macchi MC.202 become apparent much more valid (armament separately) to Anglo-Saxon historians’ own admission, compared to the Hawker fighter. “The” Thunderbolt “was widely considered to be superior to both Hawker Hurricane, both the Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk against which collided on the front of Libya since November 1941 and at least the height of the Spitfire V. Was able to overcome maneuver in all three, although the Spitfire had a higher rate of rise”. 

In the East, instead the Mitsubishi A6M Zero japan if defeated him inexorably in almost all the fighting, such as when Columbus on April 5, 1942 in half an hour against 25 British fighters were shot down one Zero and some bombers Val.

At the end of 1942 in the Mediterranean Sea Hurricanes were still used in about 22 squadrons, but at the end of 1943 it remained few in the forefront, now replaced by the P-38 Lightning, Curtiss P-40 and Supermarine Spitfire.

An evaluation Hurricane sees considered, apart from the obvious inferiority as hunting compared to the top of the scene, a good fighter, certainly more stable Spitfire when armed with bombs, and also making fire with weapons on board. The Soviets believed an aircraft rather limited, certainly worse than the Curtiss P-40, in turn, considered worse than the Bell P-39 Airacobra (authentic “icon” of the Soviet historiography, which quotes him as perhaps no other aircraft provided by the West).

After the war, many of them were still in line, including some in Egypt, and thousands of other remnants in the USSR (one of the main users) and in the air forces of several smaller countries. No one entered service with the Italian Air Force, apart from one or two specimens of war booty.

Of 14,000 copies, also produced in Canada in equivalent versions, some 800 Sea Hurricane were intended for use on board, similar versions in the development of basic models land.


EGY 1922-1952

•Royal Egyptian Air Force


•Armée Air

DEU 1933-1945

•Luftwaffe (spoils of war)


•Royal Air Force

ITA 1861-1946

•Regia Aeronautica (spoils of war Yugoslavian)

YUG 1918-1943

•Jugoslovensko Kraljevsko Ratno vazduhoplovstvo the Pomorska aviacija

ROU 1881-1947

•Forţele Aeriene Regale ale României

SUN 1923-1955

•Sovetskie Voenno vozdušnye-sily


•Koninklijke Luchtmacht


•Hobbycraft (code HC9582), 1:48 scale, difficult to find. Materials: Plastic (53 pieces including 3 lenses) and photoetched parts (39), decals for four versions. Good quality.


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• Gordon, Yefim. Airwpower Soviets in World WATR II. Hinckley UK, Midland Ian Allan Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-1-85780304-4.

• Hiscock, Melvyn. Hawker Hurricane Inside and Out. Ramsbury, Marlborough: The Crowood Press, 2003. ISBN 1-86126-630-8

• Holmes, Tom. Take off the Hurricana (Hurricane to the fore: the first aces). Osprey Publishing, 1996. ISBN 84-8372-203-8.

•Morgan, Hugh. Soviet Aces of World War II (in Italian). Milan: Edizioni del Prado / Osprey Aviation, 1999. ISBN 84-8372-203-8.

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• Stenman, Kari and Andrew Thomas.  Brewster F2A Buffalo Aces of World War 2. Oxford UK / Long Island City, Osprey Publishing, 2010. ISBN 978-1-84603-481-7.

•William Green Size sky – Airplanes Aliens in the 2nd World War – Hunting – Great Britain 21 – Copyright: Editions Gonzo – Rome, Macdonald & Co., London – Edizioni Bizzari Rome 1972

Military aircraft of World War II

Military aircraft 1931-1945

British Military Aircraft

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