- Published on Saturday, 07 May 2011 05:30 Nick Mayhew
Planes and Pilots #14:
"Hawker Hurricane from 1935 to 1945"
By Dominique Breffort
Published by Histoire et Collections
The Planes and Pilots series is a collection of books providing an overview of aircraft development, their significant marks, and a collection of accompanying profiles. Each book covers a particular aircraft or related sub-types. The soft back books are approx 10"x8", with this one having just over 80 pages. Initial impressions are favourable, and the first thing to mention is that there, by my reckoning, a massive 184 colour profiles of this iconic aircraft! As with the book from this series on the Me110, it does not have either a contents or index page, but I will go through the various chapters in turn as they appear in the book.
From the “Monoplane Interceptor” to the Hurricane
The first chapter provides a brief background and introduction, outlining the change in philosophy and technology that saw the transition from the biplane to the monoplane; through the various Hurricane prototypes designed by Sir Sydney Camm; and on to service during the Phoney War and then the Battle of Britain. Of course there have been numerous volumes covering this apect in much greater detail, but it’s useful nonetheless to have the aircraft put in historical context.
Hurricane Mark I
For many people this is the definitive version of the Hurricane, and I am certainly in this camp, so this chapter is the real ‘meat and drink’ of the book. The narrative explains the changes in wing fabrication from fabric to metal, the different propeller blades of de Havilland and Rotol, and so on. Whilst not exactly an engineering manual, the information you do get is more than adequate for purpose in my view. The chapter finishes by letting the reader know that it was the Hurricane - and not the Spitfire - that formed the majority of RAF Fighter Command’s aircraft strength and, more importantly, that it was the Hurricane that scored the majority of the kills. It does not mention that the kills were mostly against bombers, and that it was the Spitfire which was more successful in fighter to fighter combat, but that is perhaps for a more in depth analysis of the Battle of Britain.
Now to the profiles of specific aircraft: these are side-on, and are limited to one per subject covered, but the description always lists variant, unit, date and location, although sometimes pilot or other details are specified. This chapter has an impressive 64 profiles of MkI aircraft, the majority of which are Battle of Britain era, but there are also those serving in France, Norway, Egypt, Palestine and Persia. The Norway aircraft is particularly interesting: returning from the failed expedition it deck landed back on HMS Glorious, despite being a regular “land” aircraft, and when the Glorious was sunk by the Scharnhorst, the only survivors were two Hurricane pilots.
Hurricane Mark II
The next chapter deals with the Merlin XX powered Hurricane, the Mark II. A brief description of changes in engine (and resultant fuselage alterations), coolant and superchargers is given, followed by an overview of the various armament configurations, the IIA, IIC, IIB and finally IID. There is also a mention of Hurricanes produced under license in Canada – the Mark X, XI and XII. Perhaps because the Mark II had widely differing armament and ordnance, and served everywhere from Britain, North Africa through to the Far East, we get another huge number of profiles – 68 in fact – so there should be something in there for everyone!
Hurricane Mark IV
Developed from the Mark II, the Mark IV was designed for ground attack, and incorporated improved armour protection for both pilot and engine / cooling systems; it could also carry a wide array of weaponry from 40mm cannon to 3in rockets. Used by squadrons in Britain, Italy and Burma, there are 12 profiles of this type. The chapter finishes with a further 8 profiles of Hurricane “Aces” – it is a shame that this section doesn’t get more narrative, but you get enough information to pique your interest and carry on with your own research if you are so inclined.
The Sea Hurricane
The penultimate chapter covers Hurricanes at sea, both aboard aircraft carriers and the more unusual deployment on board convoy escort ships, the so-called Catapult Aircraft Merchantmen (CAM). The Sea Hurricane IA was almost identical to its land-based brother, but could only be used once, being fired off by rocket propelled catapult, then having to either ditch or find a friendly airfield on land. We then follow the development with the IB and IC, in which arrester hooks were fitted, and the Sea Hurricane IIC and XIIA, the final sea-going version. Although there are only 12 profiles in this section, there are some great photographs, including one evocative shot taken in half light showing a Hurricane catapult launch, rocket flames spewing back behind the aircraft.
The Foreign Users of the Hurricane
For those who want something different from a standard RAF bird, this is may be of interest. Because space is short, only a small paragraph is devoted to each country, but Hurricanes of Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Eire, Finland, France, Persia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Turkey, USSR and Yugoslavia are all featured here, accompanied by 20 profiles. At the end of this chapter there is a 6 page section showing generic camouflage patterns, colour schemes, roundel sizes and the like; this is followed by a series of line drawings highlighting the visible changes which help identify the different Hurricane Marks. If you are researching a particular aircraft, pilot or unit in greater detail and studying lots of period photographs, this will give you some handy tips in identifying what is what.
So what do we think?
I really like this book. It is an excellent overview of a very historically significant aircraft. It is almost a “spotter’s guide” in the way it points out the various changes as the aircraft developed. The profiles – 184 of them!! – give the reader an idea as to the various types of camouflage and markings used, and should certainly whet the appetite in terms of modelling specific aircraft. Again, this book will not tell you everything you need to know about a particular aircraft flown by a particular pilot etc, but it will give you a starting point for your research, and in that regard it is an excellent little book. Highly recommended.
“What”? “200 colour profiles of a Hurricane”? “You’ve got to be joking!”
If, like me, you thought that most Hurricanes were either green/brown or grey/green on the upper surfaces then you will have to have another think coming! This superb reference book is an eye opener, especially for the non-believers in this modelling World. There 84 information packed pages for the Hurricane enthusiasts – you will be absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing your next colour scheme.
Dominique Brefort has done a magnificent job putting together all of the information covering all marques of the Hurricane from the K5083 prototype to the Mark IV and, in my view, the pick of the crop the Sea Hurricane. Foreign users are not forgotten either with colour profiles and information on Hurricane usage by Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Eire, Finland, France, Persia, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Turkey, USSR and Yugoslavia! Phew!
My photography does not do this book, or the artwork by Nicolas Gohin, justice. I just hope it gives the reader the flavour of what he or she can expect. I hope my enthusiasm for this publication is coming across as this book is a must for all modeller’s libraries, bookshelves, coffee tables and bedside cabinets.
I have mentioned my preference for the Sea Hurricane – there is a complete chapter (7 pages)set aside for these examples. Not only that there are 9 black and white photographs and 13 colour profiles to choose from and I have to say that the Temperate Sea Scheme of Extra Dark Sea Grey, Dark Slate Grey with Sky under surfaces looks very tasty indeed.
I will let the text on the back cover say it all.
“Although the first British combat plane to fly faster than 300mph, produced almost to the end of World War II and used on every front, the Hawker Hurricane hasn’t always been recognised for what it was worth because although its career was brilliant it was to a great extent eclipsed by that of the true star, the Supermarine Spitfire. The real winner of the Battle of Britain however was the Hurricane, and by far, since in the Summer of 1940 two thirds of RAF Fighter Command’s squadrons were equipped with Hurricanes. Even better, at the end of the war, the Hurricane had chalked up a very impressive tally, since more than half of all British kills, all theatres of operations included, were scored by the different versions of the Hurricane.”
So what do we think?
Excellent. Highly recommended and a must for all modellers. At £13.99 this is a snip for a reference book like this. Thank you Casemate UK www.casematepublishing.co.uk for this review sample.
To buy this title direct, click THIS link.