SQUADRONS! No.53: The Hawker Hurricane Mk I & Mk II – The Eagle Squadrons

The Hawker Hurricane was the first of the modern fighter types to begin re-equipping the RAF in the 1930s. As the RAF was undergoing a massive expansion in the mid-thirties, the Hurricane, which performed well during its trials, was soon ordered in large numbers. In June 1936, the first order was placed for 600 aircraft. In November 1938, just after the Munich Crisis, another order was placed for 1000. When war broke out almost 500 Hurricanes had been delivered to Fighter Command and that number had reached 2300 one year later. The Hurricane remained the backbone of the RAF’s fighter force at least until 1942 in Europe, 1943 in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and 1944 in the Far East, when more modern types were introduced or became more plentiful. It remained in frontline inventory in the Middle and Far East until the very last days of the war. Indeed, while the Hurricane as a pure fighter was easily obsolete by that time, it proved to be a fine fighter-bomber. The Hurricane was involved in most of the first combats against the Luftwaffe over France and then over Britain. The basic model was continually improved and the Mk.II appeared in 1941. In 1940, American volunteers began to reach the UK to enlist in the RAF to fight against the Luftwaffe. Once trained they formed their own units, called the Eagle squadrons and in 1940-1941 three fighter squadrons were formed, Nos. 71, 121 and 133 equipped with Hurricanes…The Americans pilots would soon claim their first victories over the Luftwaffe. 30 photos, 5 profiles.

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