The Hawker Hurricane was a first monoplane fighter and the first with a top speed of over 483 km/h (300 mph) to enter RAF service. The Hurricane was designed by Sydney Camm (1893-1966) and first flown on 6 November 1935, joining the RAF in December 1937.
With the Hurricane, Sydney Camm moved from the technology of the biplane to contemporary monoplane fighter aircraft. The result was that fighters flew faster, and with the improved engine technology of the time, higher, and could be made more deadly than ever.
The Hurricane was ordered into production in June 1936, mainly due to its relatively simple construction and ease of manufacture. As war was looking increasingly likely, and time was of the essence in providing the RAF with an effective fighter aircraft, it was unclear if the more advanced Spitfire would enter production smoothly, while the Hurricane used well-understood manufacturing techniques. This was true for service squadrons as well, who were experienced in working on and repairing aircraft whose construction employed the same principles as the Hurricane, and the simplicity of its design enabled the improvisation of some remarkable repairs in squadron workshops.
The Hurricane Mk I with 768-kW (1,030-hp) Rolls-Royce Merlin II and an armament of eight 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-guns was Fighter Command’s principal fighter in the Battle of Britain in 1940, and destroyed more enemy aircraft than all other defences combined. It was followed by the Hurricane Mk IIA with 955-kW (1,280-hp) Merlin XX before the end of 1940, the Hurricane Mk IIB with 12 machine-guns and the Hurricane Mk IIC with four 20-mm cannon during 1941. These version s were also able to carry up to two 227-kg (500-lb) bombs, drop tanks or other stores under the wings; they served as fighters, fighter-bombers, night-fighters, intruders and photo-reconnaissance aircraft on all fronts until 1943, and in the Far East until the end of the war.
The Hurricane Mk IID introduced the 40-mm anti-tank gun in 1942 . Two of these weapons were carried under the wings, and this version was particularly successful in North Africa. The Hurricane Mk IV featured a ‘universal wing’ which allowed carriage of up to eight 27,2-kg (60-lb) rocket projectiles or any of the external stores carried by the Mk II. It is believed 14,231 Hurricanes were produced, including 1,451 built in Canada (Hurricane Mks X, XI and XII). This total, also included many Sea Hurricane models of which early versions were catapulted from merchant ships and flown from converted merchant aircraft carriers, and later served aboard Royal Navy fleet carriers. Always regarded as somewhat slow among RAF fighters, the Hurricane was highly manoeuvrable and capable of withstanding considerable battle damage.
Top scoring Hurricane pilot was Squadron Leader Marmaduke Thomas St. John Pat Pattle, with 35 Hawker fighter victories (out of 50 and two shared) serving with No. 80 & 33 Squadrons. All of his Hurricane kills were achieved over Greece in 1941. He was shot down and killed in the Battle of Athens.