Hawker Hurricane Fighter / Ground Attack Aircraft
The true star of the Battle of Britain was the rugged and reliable Hawker Hurricane.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Hawker Hurricane was the culmination of a series of capable metal biplane fighters evolved by the Hawker concern throughout the 1920s. The Hurricane's fuselage shape and design borrowed much from the preceding Hawker "Fury" biplane line that the Hurricane was known or a time as the "Fury Monoplane". It is perhaps best known as the true star of the "Battle of Britain" engulfing Europe during the summer of 1940. In the campaign, the German Luftwaffe attempted to subdue the British by a relentless air attack sent ahead of its ground invasion force (the proposed "Operation Sea Lion"). The Hurricane outnumbered the competing - and far more popular - Supermarine Spitfire by two-to-one in the inventory of Fighter Command and proved its most valuable asset against hordes of incoming enemy aircraft. The Hurricane went on to account for more enemy aircraft destroyed in the battle than any other British weapon - including the Spitfire and any ground-based cannon fire - such was its importance to the British defense. Beyond its wartime exploits, the Hurricane became the Royal Air Force's (RAF) first monoplane fighter and its first capable of exceeding the 300 mile per hour barrier.
Design of the aircraft was attributed to aeronautical engineer Sidney Camm (1893-1966) who also lent his design talents to the wartime Hawker Typhoon and Tempest fighter-bombers. In the post-war years, he helped further the Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Harrier "jumpjet" and the Hawker Hunter jet fighter programs which reached their own level of fame during the Cold War.
The aircraft that would become the Hurricane was developed progressively from a 1933 initiative posed by the Directorate of Technical Development which sought to move away from biplane aircraft into the realm of the monoplane. Camm began work on such an aircraft while borrowing some of the successful elements of his existing Fury biplane fighter. The aircraft would seat a single operator and be powered by the new Rolls-Royce PV.12 inline piston engine (to become the famous "Merlin"). Unlike the Fury, the new fighter would feature a monoplane wing assembly, enclosed cockpit, and a retractable undercarriage. It continued Hawker's use of a steel tube understructure covered over in fabric and not a stressed-metal skin approach encountered with more modern designs. The approach proved not as complicated to repair and manufacture though it did make the aircraft something of a technological dead end product - unable to be evolved past a certain form. The original 4 x machine gun wing armament was increased to 8 x machine guns when a Colt-Browning license was secured to locally-produce the American gun in Britain. The guns were to be held in two groups of four to each wing and did not require synchronization gear to fire through the spinning propeller blades - further simplifying Camm's approach.