IntroductionThe Hurricane Pocket Manual, Marks In Service 1939-1945
published by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
is one of a range of wartime pilot operating manuals reprints. It is a compilation of pilot manuals, combat reports and technical information about the Hawker Hurricane. Using contemporary documents and notes from Hawker, the Air Ministry, and test and operational units this small hardback book is a wealth of information about Britain’s iconic fighter.
The Hawker Hurricane was a British single-seat fighter aircraft designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force. Although overshadowed by the Spitfire, the Hurricane accounted for 60 percent of the RAF's air victories in the Battle of Britain and served in all the major theaters of World War II.
The 1930s design evolved through several versions and adaptations, resulting in a series of aircraft that acted as interceptor-fighters, fighter-bombers (also called “Hurribombers”), and ground support aircraft. Further versions known as the Sea Hurricane had modifications that enabled operation from ships. Some were converted as catapult-launched convoy escorts, known as “Hurricats.” More than 14,583 Hurricanes were built by the end of 1944 (including at least 800 converted to Sea Hurricanes and 1,400 built in Canada).
Also available in PDF and EPUB formats, the book collates a variety of pamphlets and manuals on the planes that were produced throughout the war for the benefit of pilots and others associated with the aircraft. - Bloomsbury
Within the dimensions of 4 3/4" x 7" are 144 pages of text supported by 30 line artworks and black and white photographs. Catalogued as ISBN 9781844863044
this book is compiled and introduced by Dr Martin Robson, PhD, Department of War Studies, King's College London.
I must admit that I find the hunchbacked Hawker's Hurricane far more interesting than the Spitfire. I have read that had the RAF been mainly equipped with Spitfires during the Battle of Britain, they would
have lost - this book provides some insight to that claim. Thus I was excited when this book unexpectedly arrived on my stoop. Let me tell you about the content!
ContentThe Hurricane Pocket Manual All Marks In Service 1939-1945
is 144 pages with four chapters, a 15-page Introduction, and a brief introduction to the aircraft versions, and finally an index:
Significant Hurricane Variants
Design and trials
• Specification F.5/34 Single Seater Fighter, 16 November 1934
• Trial of the Hawker Monoplane, F.36/34, no. K-5083, Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, Martlesham Heath, April 1936
• Specification 15/36, Hawker 'Hurricane' - development, production 20 July 1936
• Tests on the Operational Characteristics of Hurricane Aircraft, Sqdn Ldr J. W. Gillan, 21 February 1938
Pilot's Notes: Hurricane I Aeroplane Merlin II or III Engine
Air Fighting Development Unit, Report No. 31, Tactical Trials with Hurricane Aircraft fitted to carry bombs, 7 August 1941
• 111 Squadron, Operations Record Book, September 1940
• Fighter Command Combat Report, 12 Group, 9 September 1940
• Sqdn Ldr Douglas Bader's Flying Log, 7-19 September 1940
• Report on the operations of No. 6 Sqdn RAF in the Eastern Desert, June 1942, Hurricane Mark IIDs operating as ‘tank-busters’
The author introduces the reader to the Hurricane and its significance through 15 pages. In those pages he explains how the legendary Spitfire eclipsed the Hurricane's significant combat achievements through official and Luftwaffe propaganda. Many pilots and scholars believe the Hawker essentially won the Battle of Britain. The author recounts the strengths of the Hawker compared with the problems with the Spitfire as well as performance facts, i.e., the Hurricane's and Spitfire's turning circles in feet. Supporting these nuggets are quotes of pilots such as 'Ginger' Lacey of 501 Sqdn,
I'd rather fly in a Spitfire but fight in a Hurricane - because the Hurricane was made of non-essential parts. I had them all shot off at one time or another, and it still flew just as well without them.
Dr. Robson also mentions facts from the RAF such as why the Hurricane why much easier to service or repair than the Spitfire, allowing a much higher Hawker combat cycle than for the higher performing Spitfire and yet not glossed over was that the Spitfire was the superior fighter. The Hurricane did enter obsolescence as a fighter and yet found its forte as a fighter-bomber, hammering the enemy over Europe, Africa, and the far East with bombs, rockets, and even anti-tank 40mm cannons.
Furthermore, Hawker's creation soldiered on outside of England and operating off ships and that, too, is examined. The introduction concludes with the words of a Hurricane veteran of France and the battle of Britain, Roland "Bee" Beaumont:
We believed at the time, and I still believe today, that for the fighter combat up to 23,000ft...the Hurricane was the finest fighter of its day.
Design and trials
presents through 48 pages the specifications for No. F.5/34, Single-seat Fighter, dated 16 November 1934. This is the technical DNA for the Hurricane. It spells out all characteristics including type of materials and how to protect the materials from corrosion and decay. It also presents structural strength load factors and a host of other engineering specs, per "strain energy", as well as torsional and flexural stiffnesses - fascinating to the aeronautical engineer gene in many of us. Then there are the more common specifications: center of gravity specs; performance, stability and control.
Flight text trials are presented with tables showing climb and speed, etc. These have notes as to boost, RPM, positions of flaps, etc.. Dozens of design and texting categories are included.
is where many readers will turn to first. Dated April, 1941, this is the pilot operating manual, the pilot's description of the aircraft and explains the operating procedures and characteristics for the Hurricane I with the Merlin II or III engine divided into several sections. Anyone who has been checked out in an aircraft will be familiar with this content. Section 1 is the description of each item is numbered to match a keyed diagram. There are 114 items in the description. There are four diagrams, photographs of a Hurricane cockpit: instrument panel, left and right side walls, and a view looking into the floor of the aircraft from the pilots seat. Included are line art diagrams of aircraft systems.
Section 2 are the checklists, from starting the engine through all maneuvers thence getting back on the ground, taxiing, and shutting down. Included are airspeeds for flying. Want to know the speeds for starting various aerobatics? What about the spinning qualities of the Hurricane? They are here, too. It doesn't assume an uneventful flight and instructs in bailing out, and how to handle an inflight fire.
This is an amended section and also includes pertinent information on the Sea Hurricane.
Chapter 3, Tactical
presents trials of a 'Hurribomber' dated 18 June 1941;
...to determine the suitability of Hurricane fighters carrying bombs for the following purpose:-
(i) Against armoured fighting vehicles.
(ii) Against merchant ships.
(iii) For short range intruder operations.
(iv) As a means of bringing enemy fighters to action during fighter sweeps.
Dive and glide bombing attacks from various altitudes and the CEP were recorded.
Chapter IV, Operations
, Operations Record Book, R.A.F.
, is the daily operations log for 111 Sqdn out of Debden, 2 September 1940-30 September 1940. This chronicles pilot reports and combat records, and pilot fates. Next are seven pages from Douglas Bader's Flying Log:
Blue 1, F/Lt. G. Powell-Sheddon, went in with Yellow Section and dived to attack leader of bomber Group. He overshot and did not open fire but went into a steep turn, attacking this time the second leader. He opened fire at about 50 yards at port engine of e/a. and noticed bullets strike engine and wing. Looking back he saw e/a's part
[sic] engine on fire. He then himself got out of control for a short time, his starboard aileron control cable having been shot through, but managed to return to base.
Finally, reprinted is the January 1943 report by No. 6 Sqdn (Middle East) T.C.32, Secret, Hurricane IID Aircraft (Anti-Tank Role), Report On Operations Of No. 6 Squadron R.A.F. (Middle East) June/November 1942
. Through 11 pages we learn of the life of a 'Hurribuster' unit in action from the Gazala Offensive, through El Alamein, thence the 8th Army Advance. Individual sections are;
II. Tactics Leading To Attack
III. The Attack
V. Target Engaged
VI. Information And Communication
VII. Target Reporting
That document details life of a 40mm cannon armed Hurricane unit. It discusses escorts by P-40s and power setting, number of rounds fired per attack, dive angles and angles of attack, scouting, pre-flight, intel, and dozens of other topics in 40 subsections.
Who can ask for more?
Photographs, Art, Graphics
Most of the black-and-white photos are reproductions no doubt from the pilot manual. There are numerous performance tables. Several diagrams are included:
1. Hawker Hurricane MK 2C, dimensional 3-view.
2. Fuel System Diagram.
3. Hurricane Dive Bombing Trials 29.6.41, scaled to 1' to 100 yds: release ranges, bombs, CEP.
4. Hurricane Low Level Bombing Trials 5.7.41, scaled to 1' to 100 yds: release ranges, bombs, CEP.
5. Hurricane Bombing Trials 9.7.41, against ships, release ranges, bombs, CEP.
ConclusionThe Hurricane Pocket Manual All Marks In Service 1939-1945
is a fascinating detailed overview of technical and operationally aspects of the Hurricane. Fans and enthusiasts of the Hurricane should be absorbed by it. It is the closest to being in a Hurricane that most of us will ever get. It answers performance questions that have been bantered about for decades. In a sense it is a love letter to Sydney Camm's creation. It is not a critical overview of the Hurricane in WWII. It is an operator's manual.
I have no meaningful criticism of the book and happily recommend it.
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