10 Hawker Hurricane – 14,583
Sidney Camm’s design first flew in 1935 and entered service in 1937. That gave it a production life of nearly eight years, ending in 1944—one of the longer production lives for a WW II fighter. It outnumbered Spitfires significantly during its prime-time showing in the Battle of Britain, accounting for nearly 60 percent of RAF victories in that arena.
In truth, the Hurricane was nothing more than an extension of the long-established Hawker biplane line, in which a fabriccovered, wire-braced, truss fuselage of tubes supported two wings. When making a monoplane out of it, the top wing was eliminated with an all-aluminum, cantilever lower wing designed to sit the truss fuselage upon. The parts count in the truss fuselage, with wood fairing strips and bulkheads fleshing out the shape for the fabric, was quite high, but all the parts were simple to make, with many already used in the Hawker Fury series.
At the time (1933–35), metal monocoque design was still in its infancy, so the wings depended on massive spars attached to the center section via hardened, tapered pins that were heat-shrunk in place. The fat wing required to house the spar and armament was rudimentary and aerodynamically slowed the airplane yet still gave the plane the turning ability required to counter the Messerschmitt Bf 109E, its primary nemesis in the Battle of Britain.
Although the Hurricane’s structure was technologically obsolete, when the war began, it was available and pulled its weight. (Photo courtesy of Stan Piet)