Bal­anc­ing up the pic­ture

Pilot - - Books & Gear -

Hur­ri­cane compiled by Paul E Eden www.os­prey­pub­lish­ £6.99. Hard­back pocket book, 136 pages, colour illustration With the Spit­fire in the head­lines thanks to the hand­some doc­u­men­tary cur­rently be­ing shown in cin­e­mas, this lit­tle book from well-re­garded avi­a­tion pub­lisher Osprey of­fers a bit of bal­ance in mak­ing the case for the RAF’S ‘other Bat­tle of Bri­tain fighter’ (in­verted com­mas be­cause we are not go­ing to for­get the Boul­ton Paul Defiant and other fight­ing air­craft that were also in­volved).

While other type his­to­ries have cov­ered the Hur­ri­cane in ex­haus­tive de­tail, this book cov­ers all the es­sen­tial el­e­ments and is just as in­for­ma­tive and ac­cu­rate as one might hope. It starts with an in­ter­est­ing and useful chronol­ogy – the as yet un-named pro­to­type first flew on 6 Novem­ber 1935 (the Spit­fire pro­to­type, also men­tioned, flew in March 1936) and the first pro­duc­tion Hur­ri­cane 1 reached a front-line squadron (No.111) in De­cem­ber 1937. We all know ‘Mutt’ Sum­mers asked for noth­ing to be changed af­ter his first flight in the Spit­fire: in

Hur­ri­cane we learn that test pilot ‘Ge­orge’ Bull­man gave Hawker de­signer Syd­ney Camm a play­ful punch on the shoul­der and said “Syd, you’ve most cer­tainly got a win­ner here!”

The de­sign and de­vel­op­ment chap­ter presents with a thumb­nail sketch of the ori­gins of Hawker as a com­pany – it was formed from the rump of Sop­with af­ter WWI – and how de­signer Syd­ney Camm based the Hur­ri­cane’s air­frame on the bi­planes al­ready in pro­duc­tion, speed­ing its de­vel­op­ment and mak­ing it easy and quick to build, as well as be­ing tough and read­ily re­pairable. Even so, one of the vi­tal fac­tors in hav­ing enough Hur­ri­canes avail­able at the time of great­est need was Hawker’s brave de­ci­sion to tool up for pro­duc­tion while Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials shilly-shal­lied in or­der­ing the air­craft for the RAF.

Fur­ther chap­ters spell out the Hur­ri­cane’s rel­a­tively lim­ited evo­lu­tion, mark by mark (its out­dated con­struc­tion cer­tainly made it less amenable to de­vel­op­ment than the Spit­fire) and Ser­vice ca­reer, in­clud­ing ac­tion with the Fleet Air Arm and in the Mid­dle and Far East, where it found in­creas­ing use in the ground at­tack role.

Nicely il­lus­trated and in­clud­ing good se­lec­tion of pe­riod images and mod­ern art­work, Hur­ri­cane is worth a look even for those who might think they’ve seen all they need to on the sub­ject – and very much a bar­gain for the price.

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