On this day in 1938: 'Downwind' Gillan’s Hurricane flight

Whilst the Hawker Hurricane has come to be regarded as the workhorse of Fighter Command, accounting for four fifths of the enemy aircraft shot down in the Battle of Britain, lest we forget, it was the RAF’s first monoplane fighter and before the Spitfire came along to steal its thunder, was the single-engined fighter every fledgling RAF pilot wanted to fly in the late 1930s.

Little wonder when you consider it was the first of its kind to enter the service, armed with eight Browning machine guns in the wings, an enclosed cockpit and a retractable under carriage. It was also the first RAF fighter with a top-speed in excess of 300mph.

The Hurricane made its first flight on November 6, 1935 with Hawker’s chief test pilot Group Captain Paul Bullman at the controls. Service trials began in 1936 after which, test pilot Sammy Wroath declared: “The aircraft is simple and easy to fly and has no apparent vices.”

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