Hawker Hurricane Mk. I by Airfix

1/72 scale
Kit No. AO1010
Cost: $9.99
Decals: One version (No. 85 Squadron, RAF: Lille, France, 1940)
Comments: New tooling, engraved panel lines

History

The Hawker Hurricane flew for the first time on November 6,1935 and entered service with the Royal Air F.orce in December 1937. The Hurricane was something of a hybrid, representing a blending of (at the time) old and new aviation technology. Although it was a cantilever wing monoplane, the first such fighter in RAF service, the Hurricane’s fuselage was nearly identical to that of the Hawker Fury, the RAF’s last biplane fighter, and had the same fabric-covered, metal tubing construction as its predecessor, a design technique which had been employed by Hawker since the late 1920’s. Early Hurrricanes left the factory with fabric-covered wings as well; but as the fabric wings limited the aircraft’s performance, it would not be long before stressed-metal skin became standard, along with three-bladed propellers. These changes allowed the introduction of seat armor, as well as the loads able to be place on the airframe.

Entering service when it did, in the crisis atmosphere that pervaded Europe in the late 1930’s, the Hurricane’s very design was symptomatic of the British government’s rush to get its first monoplane fighter into service in the face of an increasingly aggressive Nazi Germany. The Hurricane was the first RAF aircraft to exceed 300 mph, and was well-armed with eight Browing .303 inch machine guns. When war broke out in September 1939, Hurricanes outnumbered Spitfires by about two to one in RAF Fighter Command, and bore the brunt of all early-war fighter operations. Four Hurricane squadrons were deployed to France prior to the German invasion, and it was a Hurricane of No. 1 Squadron that scored the first victory over the Luftwaffe, downing a Dornier Do 17 over France on October 30, 1939.

It was during the Battle of Britain, in the summer and early fall of 1940, that the Hurricane secured its place in history. It accounted for the destruction of more German aircraft than all other defenses, air and ground combined. At the height of the Battle, Hurricanes still comprised about two-thirds of RAF Fighter Command’s operational strength. Flight Leftenant J.B. Nicholson of No. 249 Squadron, a Hurricane pilot, was awarded Fighter Command’s only Victoria Cross during the Battle, for his action in attacking a Messerschmitt Bf110 after his own aircraft had caught fire.

While the Battle of Britian raged, on August 2, 1940 Hurricanes of No. 261 Squadron began their defense of far-off Malta against Italian bombers. Hurricanes again took on Italian bombers over England in November 1940 in a little-known episode of World War II, when Italian bombers made their one and only appearance over the UK and were badly mauled by Hurricanes of No. 46, 249 and 257 Squadrons. Seven out of ten BR.20 bombers were shot down, along with four CR.42 escort fighters.

Fast, agile and well-armed, the Hurricane was highly popular with its pilots. It was not quite as fast as the Messerschmitt Bf 109, but with a greater wing area it had a tighter turning radius, which a skilled pilot could turn to deadly advantage in a dogfight. Celebrated Hurricane pilot Robert Stanford Tuck recalled, “The Hurricane was solid and could obviously stand up to a lot of punishment. It was steady as a rock and an excellent gun plafform. Pilot visibility was better than the contemporary Spitfire’s as the nose sloped more steeply from the cockpit to the spinner and this of course made shooting rather easier.” Later versions would be launched from catapults to protect convoys at sea during the Battle of the Atlantic, and armed with 40mm cannon to make devastating tankbuster attacks in the North African desert.

The Hawker Hurricane is an unusually historic aircraft that reflects both a compromise between technologies, and the era of international tensions in which it came into being. No one can deny that it achieved immortality defending Great Britain in its hour of maximum danger.

Specifications

Wingspan: 40 ft. (12.19m)
Length: 31 ft. 5 in. (9.57m)
Height: 13 ft. 1.5 in. (4m)
Wing area: 258 sq. ft.
Weights: 4,982 lbs. empty (2260 kg); 6447 lbs. loaded (2924kg)
Powerplant: Rolls Royce 12-cylinder liquid-cooled Merlin III of 1,030 hp
Armament: Eight 7.7mm (.303 in.) Browning machine guns
Maximum speed: 318 mph (511 kph)
Service ceiling: 36,000 ft. (10,970m)
Range: 460 miles (740 km)
Rate of Climb: 2,520 ft. per minute (770m)

The Kit

Airfix’ Hawker Hurricane Mk. I is injection molded in grey and consists of 52 parts, including six clear parts which offer a choice between two different armored windscreens. This newly tooled Airfix offering is exquisitely detailed externally, from the engraved panel lines to the subtle stressed fabric effects on the wings, elevators, and rear fuselage (early Hurricanes had fabric-covered wings), to the recessed rivet detail and ejection ports on the underside of the wing, to the internal detail in the wheel wells, and finally the cockpit, which features a level of detail more commonly seen in 1/48 scale. The upper wing is a single piece instead of the standard two, and includes a central spar which forms part of the cockpit floor. There is interior raised sidewall detail in both fuselage halves, a seat, a nicely detailed control yoke, and a decal is provided for the instrument panel.

The landing gear are very well detailed and include tyres which are realisticaly slightly flattened, eliminating the need for aftermarket replacements Should you opt to depict the Hurricane in flight, a separate set of landing gear doors with half-tyres molded onto them, accurately reflects that the Hurricane’s tyres were partially exposed in flight. There is a two-piece canopy offering a choice of two different versions of what appear to be armored windscreens, although the instructions reference only one. Another interesting aspect of the kit is that it clearly depicts one of the very first batch of Hurricanes (50 or so) based on the stressed fabric effect on the wings. However, another feature of those early Hurricanes was that they had two-bladed propellers, whereas this kit has only the more high-performance three-bladed version — not a complaint, just something of note. The kit also features what appears to be an armored rear bulkhead behind the pilot, which again was a later improvement that took advantage of the greater power offered the by the three-bladed propeller.

The instructions are clear and well detailed, and the painting guide references Humbrol colors. The Cartograf decals are sharp and in register with realistic color, and provide markings for a machine of RAF No. 85 Squadron, part of the Advanced Air Striking Force based at Lille-Seclin, France, in May 1940. It features the standard RAF camouflage paint scheme of dark earth and dark green upper surfaces, coupled with the pre-war/early-war scheme on its underside of half matt black, half matt white, with the dividing line between the two right down the middle of the fuselage. Overall this is really an exceptional kit and should provide modelers with a lot of enjoyment.

Conclusion

This is a truly beautiful kit and given its quality, it is very affordable at just under $10.00. Highly recommended.

References

  • A Handbook of Fighter Aircraft by Francis Crosby; Copyright 2003 Anness Publishing-Hermes House; London
  • Kit instructions
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