Hawker Hurricane Mk. I by Airfix
Kit No. A01010
Decals: One version (No. 85 Squadron, RAF: Lille, France, 1940)
Comments: New tooling, engraved panel lines, optional position landing gear
The Hawker Hurricane flew for the first time on November 6,1935 and entered service with the Royal Air Force 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 offered more power and speed, allowing the introduction of seat armor, an increased the loads that could be placed 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.
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. Later versions (Sea Hurricanes) would be launched from catapults to protect convoys at sea during the Battle of the Atlantic, and armed with 40mm cannon, would 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.
This newly retooled Hurricane has the most detailed cockpit I have ever seen on a Hurricane in 1/72 scale. The cockpit assembly is a bit fiddly, owing to the way the instrument panel attaches to the pilot’s rear bulkhead rather than the fuselage interior. In addition, the cockpit floor and control yoke are cemented to the wing assembly, so that all other cockpit components are sealed up in the fuselage before it is attached to the wing — at this stage use caution, as the control yoke must fit through the rather delicate legs of the instrument panel as the fuselage is lowered onto the wing, and those legs can break easily.
The bulk of the kit comes together rather well. A notable exception is the mating of the fuselage to the wing, which is a challenge in that these parts do not fit flush; a substantial amount of sanding, especially in the forward wing root area on both sides of the fuselage, was required before I had a smooth join. The airscrew is composed of five parts, which if carefully done will allow the propeller to spin freely. The last real hurdle is painting the canopy, which is quite small, but will succumb to your patience.
The Hurricane is painted in LifeColor acrylics, from their Battle of Britain paint set. This set contains the standard WWII RAF colors of dark earth, dark green, and sky or duck egg green, and two of these colors are spot on — you will not find better acrylic dark earth or sky paints. But to this modeler’s eye, LifeColors’ dark green falls far short of the mark and is NOT recommended — it is better described as light olive green, rendering the paint scheme on this model less than accurate.
For a proper dark green I highly recommend either Gunze Sangyo or Mr. Color, if you are working with acrylics. The wheel well interiors are painted in aluminum, a Vallejo acrylic, and the cockpit is painted in British Interior Green (sidewalls and rear bulkhead), aluminum (floor, seat, rudder pedals), flat black (instrument panel), and dark camouflage grey (lower sidewalls) as called for in the instructions. While the instructions call for the entire rear bulkhead armor directly behind the pilot to be painted brick red, I opted for interior green instead, with a red leather head rest.
The kits decals are excellent and typical of Airfix quality in all of their recently released kits, newly tooled and otherwise — thin, completely in register and very responsive to decal solvent. Their color is accurate and they snuggle into every nook and cranny. Given the relatively large size of the code letters for the Hurricane, there is some silvering you may have to contend with, so cutting out the space between the individual letters and mounting them separately may be advisable.
This kit rivals Tamiya in its level of detail and ease of construction. Highly recommended.
- A Handbook of Fighter Aircraft by Francis Crosby; Copyright 2003 Anness Publishing-Hermes House; London
- Kit instructions
Author’s note: LifeColor’s Dark Green acrylic is not as advertised.