By Mark McConville
THE COMPLETE history of the Hawker Hurricane plane, whose pilots took the most victories during the Battle of Britain, has been revealed in a new book.
Incredible images show Sydney Camm who was responsible for the design of the Hawker Hurricane, the very first prototype Hurricane K5083 and the prototype in flight.
Other stunning shots show women working to produce a Hurricane Mk IIC, and Hurricanes in action during the Battle of France and during the Battle of Britain.
The black and white pictures are showcased in a new book, Hawker Hurricane: The Multirole Fighter, by Philip Birtles and published by Fonthill Media.
“Without the Hurricane, there would not have been a Battle of Britain as there would not have been enough suitable fighters for the defence against the Nazi invasion,” he said in the book’s introduction.
“Without the Spitfire, we would probably not have won the Battle of Britain. The role of the Hurricanes was to destroy the Luftwaffe bombers attacking British airfields, later London and other major cities, while Spitfires attacked the escorting Luftwaffe fighters.
“Hurricane pilots were responsible for more victories than all other forms of defence during the Battle.
“In other theatres of operation, Hurricane pilots continued to excel despite flying—by then—out-dated aircraft, particularly in the battles for Malta, 6 Squadron’s anti-armour Hawker Hurricane: Th 8 e Multirole Fighter Hurricanes in the North African campaigns, and against the Japanese over the impenetrable Burmese jungle.”
In the Battle of Britain, Hurricanes scored the highest number of RAF victories, accounting for 1,593 out of the 2,739-total claimed.
The Hurricane did have some advantages over the Spitfire but were more suited to being a defensive plane as it became outdated.
“The Hawker Hurricane propaganda was largely overshadowed by the Spitfire during the Second World War,” explained Mr Birtles.
“The main reason was that the Hurricane was a monoplane developed from a long line of Hawker biplane combat aircraft and at the end of its development, while the Spitfire was at the start of its creation.
“The Spitfire was undoubtedly faster than the Hurricane, but it was more challenging to produce initially, while the rugged construction of the Hurricane resulted in it being more resistant to battle damage.
“Its wide track undercarriage was more suitable for operations from basic airfields and was easier to maintain.
“With the Battle of Britain won and RAF fighter pilots tasked with hazardous offensive operations across occupied Europe, Hurricanes became very vulnerable to enemy defences; losses increased alarmingly.
“More pilots were killed or taken prisoner than during the Battle of Britain, many of them very experienced.”