Hurricane evolution

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by michaelmaltby, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    I'm hoping that fans of Hawker Hurricane can add insight to what is known/written about the Hurricane. I have always preferred the B-of-B-era Hurri to the Spit. At that point neither had cannons I believe, just 303 MG's. Once the B-of-B was over, the HH and the Spit immediately started to evolve in completedly different platforms - the HH becoming a ground attack aircraft with cannons-only + rockets (or bombs) - the Spit becoming the cannon+MG platform to kill FW-190's and 109 E&G's anywhere from top cover escort to the deck.

    In its evolutionary process the Spit has received plenty of well-deserved attention - the Hurricane much less.

    Think on it - not as many HH's were built as Spits but they were produced from 1936 (ish) until 1944. In 1940, as an interceptor made largely with bi-plane canvas covered tube steel frame + wood technologies it scored the lion's share of B-of-B kills, and four years later it's on the deck with rockets along with the Typhoons.

    So that's the thread I hope to see start here - are there gents out there with close detail experience and knowledge to share about of how Hawker kept refining the Hurricane as a platform to keep it in the fight.

    Things to consider: Hawker (plus 3rd parties like Gloster) had production of 2 platforms going at once: Hurri and Typhoon. They were also building in Canada at CanCar Thunder Bay with Packards. [Google *Hurricane Elsie McGill*]. Supermarine was totally focused on Spits (Walruses aside).

    Also: Typhoon was not a great initial success - power plant or air frame - so the Hurricane HAD to keep serving competitively.

    Finally: both Hurris and Spits were also evolved for onboard FLA service.

    The *killer flaw* of the Hurricane seems to have been the fuel tank directly in front of the pilot.

    So, do I have any takers ...? It's a worthy thread.

    Chairs,

    Michael Maltby
    Toronto
     
  2. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Michael,

    Here two charts on Hurricane performance evolution I based on data from Mike Williams and Neil Stirling.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Hi Michael
    I'm a bit busy at the moment
    but some introductory points of my own
    You are asking about Hurricane evolution, it largely depends on how you interpret that but I'm not sure 'evolution' is the right word. The Hurricane never really evolved in my opinion. You mention the end of the Battle of Britain, let me use that as a case in point; at that time the Spitfire had just gotten into its developmental stride, the Hurricane was all but obsolete.

    Further to that, the Hurricanes IIA, IIB, IIC, IID and IV fighters all shared the same pilot's notes - doesn't sound much like evolution to me.

    To suggest that 'not as many Hurricanes were produced as Spitfires, yet Hurricanes took the share of Battle of Britain kills' is manipulating the statistics a little; Hurricanes outnumbered Spitfires roughly 2:1 during the Battle.

    The Hurricane continued to give sterling service in the desert and eventually in the Soviet Union but I don't recall it serving alongside Typhoons. Come to think of it, I don't recall rocket fittings either although they did strap Vickers S-guns to it (I could be wrong about the rockets but I really don't recall that).

    The 'killer flaw' of the Hurricane (fuel tank directly forward of the pilot) was unfortunately shared by the Spitfire, in fact both had TWO tanks in that position totalling about 85 Imp gallons in their initial Mk I guises.
     
  4. Marshall_Stack

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    Wasn't the wing of the Hurricane rather thick? Could it have been streamlined like the Typhoon to Tempest and would that have helped?
     
  5. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    To echo and reinforce one of Colin's points, the Hurricane was the end of an evolutionary line going back to the Hawker Fury - indeed, the Hurricane was referred to as the 'Fury monoplane' in it's earliest days. The Typhoon represented an entirely new line of airframes and powerplants for Camm, totally separate from the Hurricane.

    On the other hand, the Spit, although based on the S6 Schneider Cup floatplane, was essentially a new departure, and the line did not end until the Spiteful/Seafang of the postwar years. There was far more potential for development of the Spit in 1939-40 than there was for the Hurri - which was precisely the reason that the Spit was constantly developed while the Hurri was left pretty much unaltered for the remainder of it's career.
     
  6. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Every time I see HoHuns graphs I really enjoy them. Thanks :)

    As for Hurricane having fatal flaw, for me it's the tick wing. So despite receiving stronger engines, the plane just stucked around 550 km/h even with 1500HP (give or take).
    As for the RP's, this is from Wiki (for what is worth ):
     
  7. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Hi Marshall
    It would quite possibly have made the Hurricane faster
    but I think Camm's eyes were on the abilities of the rest of the airframe - and its limitations.

    Camm was only too aware of the increasing tempo of fighter design and was working on a next-generation fighter before the Hurricane was even in service. He based his designs around two powerplants, each promising twice the horsepower of the existing Merlin.
    Under Specification F.18/37, the Hawker Tornado (RR Vulture-engined) and the Hawker Typhoon (Napier Sabre-engined) both promised performance in the region of 400mph. If high-speed airframe imperfections were ripping the tail units off the Typhoon, God only knows what it would have done to the Hurricane airframe.

    Only my opinion, but eyes (and project funds) were off the Hurricane, eyes were firmly on the next generation.
     
  8. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    Hurricane thread! Awesome!

    Is there anyway the H.H. could have been fitted with a less thick and clunky wing? Would that have helped?
     
  9. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    lol hi Clay
    been answered, see Marshall's post and subsequent responses :)
     
  10. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Most of what you're all saying I agree with ... Colin especially *Only my opinion, but eyes (and project funds) were off the Hurricane, eyes were firmly on the next generation*.

    Were there rocket-equipped Hurricanes down with the Typhoons? - I don't KNOW that for a fact - but I do know that Hurricanes with rockets and 4 Hispano 20's - accounted well for themselves against armour in Africa.

    And as for *it depends what you call evolution* - Camm was trying to influence events by anticipating/reacting design. The Hurricane production designers were *rationalizing design for ...* and it's that LAST bit that I'm most interested in. What does that mean .... no more 12 303's in the wing, 4 20mm HS's canons, or 2 30mms canons + 8 rockets.

    The wing that carried that load surely wasn't the wing that fought in the B-of-B - for one thing, it's no longer a wooden wing.

    Those kind of *improvements* - while in production - are what's most interesting about system development, to me. [Think HumVees when they went to Iraq and HumVees in Iraq today]

    Anyone ..?

    THanks for the feedback
     
  11. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Hi Michael
    it wasn't a wooden wing during the Battle either, in fact, it was never a wooden wing. Fabric was employed until increased armament requirements prompted Hawker's engineers to re-appraise the situation with a design study for metal stressed-skin wings. They also realised that any damage to a fabric wing would likely lead to ballooning and the rest of the fabric being torn from the aircraft.

    Despite this, the all-metal wing didn't appear until 1939 although that was still in time for the Battles of France and Britain.
     
  12. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    It's interesting, and I did miss that, I must have double-tapped "Page Down".

    But I was thinking, what if it had had a lower thickness-to-chord ratio from day one?

    I have to admit, it's a great fighter-bomber as is, but it had a lot more potential to be a competitive front line fighter throughout the war if it had been gifted with less drag and more maneuverability.
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Why bother? The Spitfire was an inheritly superior design. Money spent on Hurricane design improvements would be better spent on reducing Spitfire production costs.
     
  14. Nightwitch

    Nightwitch Member

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    Well, this isn't directly related to Hawker design improvements, but the Soviets did alter the armament on many examples of their Lend-lease Hurricanes. The Soviets really hated the .303 machine gun, and most rifle-caliber machine guns in general. They commonly complained that the .303 couldn't penetrate the armor on German airplanes and was only good for chipping the Germans' paint jobs. The most common alteration seems to be the replacement of the 12 .303 machines guns with two Berezin UBK 12.7mm machine guns and two ShVAK 20mm cannon in the wings.

    The Soviets didn't change much else about the plane, and they really seem to have disliked it. There were very few Soviet Hurricane aces, certainly none I can think of off-hand that made ace in the Hurricane. Many Soviet pilots reportedly preferred to keep their I-16s in favor of the Hurri MkIIb they were offered, though in practice many units converted to the Hurricane. I think at one point in early 1942 as many as half of the fighter force covering the Murmansk region was Hurricane-equipped.

    The other modification the Russians made to Hurricanes in their service was for the ground attack role. They equipped at least one ShAP unit with modified Hurricanes sporting mounts for RS-82 rockets. This wasn't especially common though, as the Il-2 was the preferred ground attack aircraft, and as soon as it became available in sufficient quantity, the ground attack Hurricanes were phased out.

    All in all, the Hurricane has a pretty spotty reputation in Soviet service, but the modifications the Soviets made are at least interesting, especially considering the British made many of the same modifications themselves - cannon instead of MGs, and rocket rails when the thing was relegated to ground attack.
     
  15. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    Considering how hard up the Australians and others in the Commonwealth (Indians for another example) were for fighters I think a non-strategic-materials fighter that could fly with the big boys would be a godsend no matter what.
     
  16. Venganza

    Venganza Member

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    One very interesting Soviet modification was the two-seat courier version, with two open cockpits, the back seat fitted with a machine gun for defense. I can't recall offhand how many of these were modified. (The Soviets even made a similar modification to the P-40, but without the defensive rear gun.) To get back to the evolution of the Hurricane, I imagine that Camm used the Hurricane as a sort of baseline for the development of the Typhoon. The Typhoon used some steel tube construction in the fuselage and also had a thick wing, though not as thick as the Hurricane, and the major improvement on the Tempest was to replace this wing with a much thinner, elliptical wing (somewhat like the Spitfire's, now that I think about it).

    Venganza
     
  17. Nightwitch

    Nightwitch Member

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    A picture of that can be found on page 22 of Osprey's "Soviet Lend-Lease Fighter Aces of World War 2" by George Mellinger. In the book though, it is labeled as an "artillery spotter."
     
  18. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Nightwitch *The Soviets didn't change much else about the plane, and they really seem to have disliked it. There were very few Soviet Hurricane aces ...*

    ... Now you're on another topic that deserves its own thread: *what explains why the Soviets liked or disliked various LendLease aircraft?* The Soviets didn't like Hurricanes - didn't especially like Spitfires although Spits did them proud in the Kaban campaign - didn't much like P-40 KittyHawks - but really connected with P-39 Airacobras.

    I have a theory: the Soviets liked Bell P-39's because their designers (Bell's) and President - Larry Bell - paid ATTENTION to the Russians - listened to the Russians - wanted to PLEASE the Russians. Why ... well the USAAF pretty much castrated his design by deniing performance components ... and the Russians knew what to do with the plane.

    Whereas: do you really think the RAF gave a whit about customization/featurization of Hurricanes for the Soviets ...? I wasn't there but I'm guessing it was: here - *be grateful for what we can give you* And the same was likely the same for LendLease Spits.

    With the US planes came US gasoline + octane boost additives.

    The Hurricane however - evolved in both Russia and Africa - as a ground support *Jabbo*.

    Chairs,

    MM
     
  19. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Hate to bust your bubble Mike, but from what I understand the Russians got what they got - there was no options or Soviet customer reps at the Bell plant requesting certain things. If I'm not mistaken the contract to produce the aircraft for the Soviets was granted and controlled by the US War Dept. When the P-39 arrived in the USSR in many cases the aircraft underwent modifications to suit the specific unit or area of operation.

    There was a recient find of a P-39 at Lake Mart-Yavr within the Russian Arctic Circle in the summer of 2004. According to the article the aircraft was produced under contract AC-40071 - that's an "air corps" contract number.
     
  20. Nightwitch

    Nightwitch Member

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    Actually, I've heard that the Bell corporation did listen to the Soviets, but the changes the Soviets wanted were, to my understanding, incorporated in the P-63 rather than the P-39.
     
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