Brilliant news from Phil Lawton that his Hurricane rebuild is finally getting to the end and plans are now realistically being made for its maiden (well second) maiden flight from Thruxton in the near future. Although the flight date has not been set yet as they are still waiting for the Permit to Fly and there is still some fitting up left to do it is booked into a couple of Finnish Airshows in late July. Registered as G-CBOE it has now been finished, as planned, in the colours of a Hurricane Mk X, AG244, the Canadian-built equivilent of the Mk.I or, so some reckon, possibly the Mk II which eventually ended up serving with the Central Flying School in Norton, Southern Rhodesia in 1944 having formally been operating in the desert. Forgetting for the moment that is actually one of the smartest Hurricane colour schemes around it makes for an easy repaint should the new owner, if Phil can actually bring himself to part with it, wants a different colour scheme. The Airfix boys have already picked up on it and have already got one painted up as AG244. This one was built by Santiago Hrubrisko and his father.
Trawling about the wibbly wobbly it seems that Mk Xs were built by the Canadian Car & Foundry (CC&F). After negotiations a Mk I was sent by Hawker Aircraft to CC&F along with complete plans on microfilm for production of Hurricane Mk Is powered by British Merlin III engines shipped from England to Canada. Since the Hurricane Mk I was likely to continue development back in England, Hawker requested that an adequate gap in Mark Numbers be left to allow for further British designations, and consequently CC&F produced Hurricanes beginning with the Mark X designation. Canadian production went so well that the first Canadian produced Hurricane Mk I was delivered only a year after the pattern aircraft was shipped. After 166 Merlin III powered Hurricanes were produced, production was switched to the Mk X, the designation used to identify Hurricanes powered by the American manufactured Packard Merlin 28s. In all 434 CC&F Hurricane were built to British contracts, with 25 being taken over by the RCAF and given Canadian serials. All the aircraft were produced with eight machine guns although in numerous cases this was changed to twelve machine guns or four cannons for shipment to other theatres or to the Russians. How bizarre that the colour scheme chosen by Phil should turn out to be an aircraft with a very similar pedigree. Coincidence or a bit of fate? Whatever it is a good omen and the aircraft looks pretty special in silver.
Then we came across a bit written by a former Rhodesian Air Force Hurricane pilot written by a chap called ‘Max’ on the BritModeller website. He says “My father was trained as a pilot in 1943 in the Rhodesian Air Training Group and he flew one of the Hurricanes in March 1945 (the 12th to be precise doing an oxygen climb to 20,000′) though he didn’t record for some strange reason its serial number in his logbook. He took many photographs whilst out there but only one has a Hurricane indistinctly in the background. He was retained out there as a flying instructor at Norton, the CFI was Ted Shipman who formerly had fought in the Battle of Britain.” What follows is an account by Ted provided by his son John about the Rhodesian Hurricanes.
“In the July of 1944 we had managed to get several Hurricanes which had been in the Middle East. They were pretty well clapped out and had to be carefully checked and serviced. We used them for communication and to give the instructors advanced experience. Later in October, Group Headquarters held a flypast of Hurricanes at Cranborne in which I took part. This was called the ‘Gold Cup Flypast’ and took place in front of the civic dignitaries but I cannot remember exactly what it was for.
The following year, when VE Day had come and gone and the end of the War was in sight, I felt that my instructors particularly, and if possible those pupils who wished to do so, should be allowed to have a trip in the Hurricanes. The majority did and flew the aircraft very well and I felt happy that I had been able to give them some little consolating experience in return for their efforts and because many of them would never fly again once they left Norton. At least they would have had the satisfaction of having flown a Hurricane.
There was one unfortunate accident, however, and that was to one of my more experienced instructors who dived vertically into the ground from a considerable height. Of course, the cause of the crash was never known. It could well have been anoxia if the chap had gone too high without oxygen – and one must remember that his altimeter if set at ground level would have been reading at least 4,000 feet below his true height above sea level. The fact that he did not attempt to bale out or control the dive rather indicates that he was unconscious.”
There are only a few pictures of the Rhodesian Hurricanes and it seems that on arrival they were given a coating of silver dope over the existing colour scheme so in many instances the lines of the old camouflage scheme shows through. Then, as if co-incidence exists, we came a cross a picture of a well-weathered RRAF Hurricane taken from what is almost certainly a Harvard, the RAF version of the Texan like what Phil has been practising on! Click on the piccie and you will see its wingtip. Quite what the early history of AG244 was or what her final fate was is unclear but there is a strong rumour that after the war ended and by which time the Rhodesian Hurricanes were in a pretty poor state they were broken up for spares and the remains burnt. This one, we are certain, will have its future assured. Pictures courtesy of Jeff Lawton.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ww2images/6897160231/ AG244 parked up on flickr.
http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234950889-hurricanes-of-the-ratg/ A great chain of stuff on the Rhodesian Hurricanes.
https://airfixtributeforum.myfastforum.org/Airfix_2014_Hawker_Hurricane_Group_Build_Gallery_about41789.html&start=100 Jame’s Hurricane