Looking to cause a storm at Goodwood next year?
While the glamorous Spitfire has always received more publicity, it is the Hurricane – the first of the Royal Air Force’s Rolls-Royce Merlin-engined, 300mph fighters – that was responsible for downing the most enemy planes in the summer of 1940. And although its main role was to intercept the bombers while the faster Spitfire went for the Messerschmitt Bf 109s, many Hurricane pilots came out on top in head-to-head dogfights with German fighters.
More than one Luftwaffe ace, reclining in a British RAF station’s armchair pending relocation to less comfortable surroundings, would stoically claim that his bad luck was down to a Spitfire with its superior speed and handling. Imagine his surprise, then, to be told that it was the humble Hurricane - perhaps flown by the legendary legless pilot Douglas Bader – that caused his war to be over.
Nowadays, the Hurricane is a much rarer bird than the Spitfire. Of the 14,533 aircraft built between 1937 and 1944, just a dozen are in flying condition. Some 40 Spitfires are in operation worldwide and the plane's all-monocoque, metal construction makes for a far easier restoration. The Hurricane, while having the wings and much of the forward fuselage in metal, has a wood-and-fabric rear fuselage and tail section.
This particular airframe (a 1942 Mk XIIa, 5711, registered ‘G-HURI’) was originally flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force during the war, before being acquired by the Historic Aircraft Collection in 2002, and housed at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, in Cambridgeshire.
Bonhams will offer the Hurricane at its Monday, 3 December auction at Mercedes-Benz World Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey.
It carries an estimate of £1.4 - 1.7 million. A pretty penny, undoubtedly, but far less than the $35m or so required to put a Ferrari 250 GTO on the grid for the Tourist Trophy Celebration race. And the Hurricane’s far rarer, too.
Photos: Richard Paver (1/3/4) / William Vanderson/ Getty Images (2)