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Category: Air support/WW2/Allied

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In 1933, Hawker's chief designer, Sydney Camm, decided to design an aircraft which would fulfil a British Air Ministry specification calling for a new monoplane fighter. His prototype, powered by a 990hp Rolls Royce Merlin 'C' engine, first flew on 6 November 1935, and quickly surpassed expectations and performance estimates. Official trials began three months later, and in June 1936, Hawker received an initial order for 600 aircraft from the Royal Air Force. The first aircraft had fabric wings. To power the new aircraft (now officially designated the "Hurricane,") the RAF ordered the new 1,030hp Merlin II engine.

The first production Hurricane flew on 12 October 1937, and was delivered to the 111 Squadron at RAF Northolt two months later. A year later, around 200 had been delivered, and demand for the airplane had increased enough that Hawker contracted with the Gloster Aircraft company to build them also. During the production run, the fabric-covered wing was replaced by an all-metal one, a bullet-proof windscreen was added, and the engine was upgraded to the Merlin III. Before WWII, production locations expanded to include Yugoslavia, Belgium and in 1940, Canada, where it was undertaken by the Canadian Car and Foundry Company.

August 1940 brought what has become the Hurricane's shining moment in history: The Battle of Britain. RAF Hurricanes accounted for more enemy aircraft kills than all other defences combined, including all aircraft and ground defences. Later in the war, the Hurricane served admirably in North Africa, Burma, Malta, and nearly every other theatre in which the RAF participated.

The Hurricane underwent many modifications during its life, resulting in many major variants, including the Mk IIA, with a Merlin XX engine; the Mk IIB, with interchangeable wings housing twelve 7.7mm (0.303in) guns and carrying two 500lb bombs; the Mk IID, a tank buster with two 40mm anti-tank guns plus two 7.7mm guns; the Mk IV, with a universal, multi-purpose wing, and powered by a 1,620hp Merlin 24/27 engine; and the Canadian-built Mk XII, with a 1,300hp Packard Merlin 29 engine. During the war, Hurricanes were sold to Egypt, Finland, India, the Irish Air Corps, Persia, Turkey, and the USSR.

The Hurricane was undoubtedly one of the greatest and most versatile fighter aircraft of WWII, and it remained in service with the RAF until January 1947.

Nicknames:  Hurry; Hurribomber (Malta-based Hurricanes)

Specifications (Mk IIB):
    Engine: 1,280hp Rolls-Royce Merlin XX 12-cylinder V piston engine
    Weight: Empty 5,500 lbs., Max Takeoff 7,300 lbs.
    Wing Span: 40ft. 0in.
    Length: 32ft. 2.5in.
    Height: 13ft. 1in.
        Maximum Speed at 22,000 ft: 342 mph
        Cruising Speed at 20,000 ft: 296 mph
        Ceiling: 36,500 ft
        Range: 480 miles
        Twelve 7.7mm (0.303in.) wing-mounted machine guns
        Two 250 or 500-lb bombs

Number Built: 14,231

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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces