Hasegawa's Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
Reviewed By Tom Cleaver
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Perhaps one of the best accounts of what it was like to fly the Hurricane I in the battle it was born to fight in. From the diary of Squadron Leader Ian R. Gleed, OC, 87 Squadron, August 25, 1940:
"I glance back at the 'drome. Twelve dots are climbing behind us. Lucky devils: 213 Squadron: they are after the bombers again. It's a glorious day, the sun beats down on us, the sea looks most inviting - hope I don't have to bathe just yet... Up, up, my two wingmen are crouching forward in their cockpits, their hoods open. I slide mine open - it's too damned stuffy with it shut. My mouth feels hellishly dry - there is a strong sinking feeling in my breast... Once more the sun shines from the sea, its reflection off the surface makes it nearly impossible to look in that direction - the direction the Hun is coming from. I strain my eyes, peering at the sky...
"'Tally-ho!' Christ! There they are!' A weaving, darting mass of dots gradually drift toward us, looking like a cloud of midges on a summer's eve. 'Line astern! Line astern, go!' 'Steady, don't attack too soon...' Here goes, I dive at the nearest circle of '110s - Christ! Look out! A glance behind shows '109s literally falling out of the sky, on top of us! I bank in a steep turn..the '109s overshoot us and climb steeply. Now it's our chance. I straighten out and go for the closest '110. He turns away, I thumb the firing buttons at 250 yards. White puffs flash past the cockpit. A terrific burst of fire from his right engine, got him! A puff of white as the pilot's parachute opens...
"A large chunk of something flashes past my wing...I look back to see the tracers flash by. A '109 is just about on my tail! The stick comes back in my tummy and everything goes away dark. Now an aileron turn downwards - that was a close one! - I miss a '110 by inches, the controls are solid. Where am I? About ten miles off the coast. Hurrah! They've turned away!... Those two Hurricanes ahead have black crosses - '109s! Sights on, I thumb the button - black smoke comes from his engine and I dive away low over the waves. I scream along just over the water...I hurtle past many patches of oil. At last the cliffs loom up! The sea is dead calm, glassy. I'm still alive."
Though the Spitfire gained the glory of the Battle of Britain, it was the tough Hawker Hurricane that won the fight. Three-fifths of the squadrons of RAF's Fighter Command were mounted on Sidney Camm's fighter that summer of 1940. Badly outperformed by the Bf-109E, it was a scandal when reports came out that production Hurricane I's could barely make 305 mph at 10,000 feet - the height at which most combat occurred - and that the airplane could not be flown over 20,000 feet, the altitude from which the Messerschmitts dove out of the sun on their targets. Be that as it may, the rugged, somewhat primitive Hurricane was the more easily-repaired of the two RAF fighters; fully 60 percent of the Hurricanes shot down over England that summer were repaired and returned to operational use during the battle - a fact that Goering's Luftwaffe missed as they confidently predicted that September 15, 1940, would see no RAF fighters over London.
The Hurricane first flew in 1934, as a private venture by Hawker Aircraft. Evolutionary, rather that revolutionay like its stablemate the Spitfire, the Hurricane built on Hawker's long experience with internally-braced metal airframes, covered in fabric. The early Hurricanes still had fabric covered wings, and the fuselage from just aft of the cockpit remained fabric-covered throughout the airplane's life.
What was revolutionary, however, was the armament of 8 .30 caliber Browning machine guns in the wings, enough to give a pilot a fair chance of knocking down a bomber with one good burst. Once the RAF realized that "Fighting Area Attacks" were merely a good way to set up the defending fighters to be massacred by the escorts, the Hurricane became responsible for the destruction of the overwhelming majority of the German bombers lost during the Battle of Britain, as well as close to half the fighters even though it was theoretically outclassed by everything it was flying against.
Outclassed or not, the Hurricane I was there when it was needed, in numbers sufficient to change the outcome of a battle nearly everyone expected Britain to lose. As such, it is a model deserving of a place in any collection.
It was obvious from the fuselage engineering that when Hasegawa brought out their Hurricane IIc in 1997, the earlier Hurricane would eventually see production in kit form. While modelers might complain about the over-emphasis of the fabric effect on the rear fuselage, and lament the lack of a two-part positionable canopy, the Hasegawa kit was head and shoulders above its Airfix predecessor in terms of a detailed cockpit, overall accuracy of shape, accuracy of wing dihedral, etc.
The new kit provides new-mold wings with the eight-gun leading edge, and correct gun bay covers on the upper wings, with the correct staggered ejection chutes on the lower. A large Rotol spinner allows the construction of the classic "mid-Battle" Hurricane I, while inclusion of the spinner from the earlier kit allows the modeler to build a late-production Hurricane I. There is no provision of the de Havilland propeller; however, those modelers who did not use this option on their Tamiya Spitfire V have the solution in the spares box if they kept those parts.
Decals are provided for two Battle of Britain aircraft, the Hurricane I "Figaro" flown by Squadron Leader Ian R. Gleed in which he scored the majority of his 20 victories, and an anonymous Hurricane from 32 Squadron.
Another winner from Hasegawa. With the wealth of aftermarket decals for Hurricanes, a modeler is faced with the problem of narrowing one's choices - a nice place to be.
Thanks to Hobbylink Japan for providing the review sample.
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