56 Squadron embark on a mission from North Weald. Today, most people view both the Hurricane and Spitfire as some of the best WWII-era fighter aircraft ever made. They couldn’t find him. Hawker Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain (Photo from the Imperial War Museum) The Hurricane, with its wood and fabric construction, was also easier for ground crews to repair and conduct maintenance on. Both the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane served with the RAF prior, during and after WWII. For many of them, whilst the Spitfire got the glory, the Hurricane did the “grunt” work to get the Spitfire the glory (which is somewhat true). The Mark I Hurricane of 1939-40 could reach 325 mph, and 35,000 feet, compared to the Spitfire’s 360 mph, and the Spitfire had a better rate of climb. The incident has become known as the Battle of Barking Creek, which is curious given that Bark­ing Creek is in east London and Freeborn shot down Hulton-Harrop many miles north over rural Essex. During WWII, a fighter aircraft was any aircraft, who’s sole purpose was to engage (and hence fight) enemy aircraft. “I made a sharp turn and got directly onto an E/A [enemy aircraft] which I gave a short burst of 2/3 secs and E/A turned and went down. As a kid, I spent much of my summer going to air shows and air museums, where the Spitfire was always my favorite. Unfortunately, the enemy aircraft supposedly sighted by the searchlight battery did not exist. Both the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hurricane are renowned for their part in defending Britain against the Luftwaffe; generally, the Spitfire would intercept the German fighters, leaving Hurricanes to concentrate on the bombers, but, despite the undoubted abilities of the "thoroughbred" Spitfire, it was the "workhorse" Hurricane that scored the higher number of RAF victories during this period, accounting … Hawkshaw Hawkins (Harold Hawkins), country singer; he died along with country stars Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas when the small plane that was carrying them crashed in 1963. After all, you could have the best aircraft in the world, but if it costs too much, or you can manufacture ten weaker aircraft for the same amount, numbers will eventually give way. Hurricanes were the primary aircraft used against the Luftwaffe during the evacuation of Dunkirk. A short while later he spotted what he took to be a Luftwaffe bomber and closed in for the kill. Further reading: Tiger Cub: A 74 Squadron Fighter Pilot in World War II, by Christoper Yeoman and John Freeborn; and Tiger Squadron: The Story of 74 Squadron, RAF, in Two World Wars, by Ira Jones. Fortunately, I was able to interview three of them- one who flew the Spitfire, one who flew the Hurricane and one who flew both. He’d gone home [he lived with his wife off base] and dropped us right in the s—.”. And now for some out-of-schedule aviation geekiness: Yesterday I encoutnered an off-hand comment about whether the Spitfire or the Messerschmitt … Although many others simply spoke about how iconic they were! Conversely, the Spitfire’s metal construction meant that skilled metal workers were needed to conduct repairs. During the Battle of Britain, there were 32 squadrons of Hurricanes compared with only 19 squadrons of Spitfires, yet the Spitfire is … “Two of our A/C [aircraft] went down immediately,” he wrote. The court-martial that took place at HQ Fighter Command on October 17, 1939, was held in private, and the findings have never been published. Charles de Lint, author; helped popularize the urban fantasy genre; received World Fantasy Award (2000) for the collection Moonlight and Vines. The role of WWII fighter aircraft differ greatly from modern fighter aircraft. Some of these are full size, whilst others are only 2/3 the size. The Hurricane vs The Spitfire . I was only a kid and I’d never flown a monoplane.”. The final time we spoke I asked him what it was that had made him such a good pilot. For the most part, during the war, fighter aircraft and interceptors were different from one another. “Malan was just married, always broke, always borrowing money,” he said. Asked if he followed Adolph "Sailor" Malan’s “Ten Rules for Air Fighting,” John Freeborn, seen atop his Spitfire Mk. That proved too much for John Freeborn. “Practicing all the time,” he replied. Overall they achieved a greater kill:ratio but against the Bf-109 it was lower due to obvious reasons; the Bf-109 always had the height and numercial advantage. However, as I have grown older, I have found myself preferring the Hurricane more with each passing year. Dassault Falcon 50: Dassault’s Most Famous Jet Yet! The Hurricane was the principal fighter in the Battle of Britain, not the Spitfire as most people think. I was shouting at him to get out of the bloody way, either shoot or let me shoot it. The reason for that notoriety is due to the team's staggering success, which developed over the weekend as they were crowned the European Gauntlet 2020 Champions. “He wasn’t received very nicely,” said Freeborn of the prime minister. Freeborn was in his mid-80s when I got to know him, living by himself in northwest England, having outlived two wives. Robin and Maurice Gibb, singers, songwriters; co-founders of the Bee Gees band. (Courtesy of Bob Cossey, 74(F) Tiger Squadron Association), Freeborn did do the odd daft thing in the war, on one occasion buzzing two golfers on a local links course. He was a brilliant pilot, but he was as evasive on the ground as he was in the air, a mix of showman and politician. Following the Battle of Britain, the Hurricanes would be dispatched all over Europe and North Africa. Depending on the year, aircraft history and service record, WWII-era Spitfires can fetch anywhere from $1.5 million to almost $7 million. In the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane shot down about twice as many Nazi (german) aircraft, compared to the Spitfire. For the pilot who flew both, he rather controversially said that he preferred the Hurricane. This aircraft was known as the Hawker P.V.3, which resembled the WWI-era Hawker Fury. The Hurricane vs The Spitfire . 74 “Tiger” Squadron at RAF Hornchurch, east of London. Hurricane : Spitfire : Specifications: Span: 40 ft. 30 ft. For the most part, both the Hurricane and Spitfire are similarly sized aircraft. 940: RAF Hurricanes Spitfires August 21st 1940 615 326 August 30th 1940 580 287 September 8th 1940 530 275 September 15th 1940 472 256 October 2nd 1940 482 281 October 18th 1940 512 285 Battle of Britain RAF losses – July Destroyed Damaged Pilots killed Pilots missing Pilots wounded Hurricane 33 17 23 0 11 … By the end of the war, both roles had become distinct from one another. Freeborn broke off the attack with a sense of euphoria, believing he had just shot down his first German. I then returned to Hornchurch.”, The first of Freeborn’s two kills gave him particular satisfaction. Whilst this role had been used during WWI, it had largely been forgotten about since then. Out of the fifty people I spoke to, roughly 45 of them said the Spitfire, with most of it being almost instantaneous. Due to the changing nature of German aircraft, the RAF ordered several variants of the Hurricane and Spitfire to be built. Byrne had shot down the 56 Squadron Hurri­cane flown by Frank Rose, who managed to bail out, but Freeborn had downed his wingman, 26-year-old Pilot Officer Montague Hulton-Harrop, who was dead, the first British pilot combat fatality of the war. As well as restorations, several companies have designed and built replica Spitfires. Many UK-allied militaries were also evaluating the Hurricane, with Yugoslavia already implementing several Hurricane squadrons. As per usual, I spoke with a number of British avgeeks, many outside RAF Conningsby (where the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) is housed). Eighty years ago, the air war over Britain did not start well for the Royal Air Force in a “friendly fire” incident involving Spitfires and Hurricanes. Never saw him.
Many would have claimed to be a Spitfire pilot down the pub to impress a young girl when they really had a Hurricane at home. One of their conversations resulted in abandonment of the Vic formation of three aircraft in favor of the finger-four formation. At the time, Hawker was known for producing some of the most advanced aircraft in the world. Although the Type 224 was the superior aircraft, RAF higher ups were skeptical of monoplane designs. Weight: 7200 lbs. In modern pounds, this is worth roughly £790,000 ($1,000,000). Due to the changing nature of German aircraft, the RAF ordered several variants of the Hurricane and Spitfire to be built. Pilot Peter Chesters; Pilot Officer Don Cobden, a huge man who had played rugby for New Zealand; and South African Malan. “My confidence didn’t really suffer,” reflected Freeborn of the incident. 56 Squadron at North Weald. None of the 20 fighter pilots had ever been in combat, or even seen a German airplane up close, and this inexperience, ignorance and excitement was about to have fatal consequences. He had only recently agreed to talk publicly about his wartime experience as the pilot who had flown more operational hours during the Battle of Britain than any other. On top of this, the Spitfire has a slightly higher service ceiling, although, this doesn’t make much of a difference. In 1934, the RAF’s WWI-era fighters were ageing too much for the RAF and they sought a replacement. As a kid, my grandfather would tell me stories and show me intricate things on the Hurricane, many of which I still remember. ABILITY TO UPGRADE . We recently compared the P-51 Mustang and Spitfire, where we were inundated with requests for a Hurricane-Spitfire comparison. Although skeptical, the RAF was interested in the fighter, believing that if it could be mass-produced, it would continue Britain’s tradition of being the strongest military in the world (at the time). The Merlin powered Hurricane and Spitfire were instrumental in neutralizing the German Luftwaffe's attempt to gain air superiority over Britain, reducing the effectiveness of German bombing and preventing an Axis invasion. As one of the few surviving RAF pilots who had flown night patrols against the Germans, his input was invaluable. In terms of the cost to operate the Spitfire, it costs roughly £2,000 ($2,500) per hour to operate an original Spitfire, or £1,800 ($2,300) for a replica. I went over in ‘40. During the invasion of France, Hurricanes worked alongside French aircraft. Freeborn shot down a 109 in the second sortie and was leading a third sortie of 11 Spitfires at midday when he was given misleading information by the ground controller. This feature originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Aviation History. Asked for his opinion of Malan’s famous “Ten Rules for Air Fighting,” which became an unofficial guide for new pilots, Freeborn snorted with derision: “A lot of rubbish. The remaining people spoke about how the Hurricane was the workhorse of the RAF during the Battle of Britain. Yellow Section—Flying Officer Vincent “Paddy” Byrne; his no. “I had respect for their pilots—they were very good—but they didn’t like to mix it.”. Today, many former RAF Hawker Hurricanes are still flying, with several currently up for sale (as of the time of writing). In 1931, the RAF wanted a new fighter, soliciting aircraft manufacturers to send in new designs. Several others preferred the Hurricane. However, I decided to solely ask members of the British public, instead of people from both the UK and US. These aircraft were subsequently shot down and later evaluated by the Luftwaffe. However, the RAF weren’t interested in the design. When Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Royal Yugoslav Air Force fielded its Hurricanes against the Luftwaffe’s Bf.109s. This is mostly down to them being British, and with the role of the Spitfire during the Battle of Britain being emphasized on us since we were small children. The paper also hinted at Malan’s other side in describing “his coldly calculating attitude” as a pilot. I gave him a squirt or two and he hit a telegraph pole with his prop and it knocked him to pieces. Personally, I am British, and have grown up hearing stories about both the Spitfire and the Hurricane, both in my history classes at school and from my father’s military friends. It was highly manoeuvrable, with a turning circle even tighter than that of a Spitfire. For the overwhelming majority of them, they preferred the Spitfire.