The Hawker Hurricane I was born in December 1934, when the
British Air Ministry issued specification number F.36/34, calling
for a new monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear. At that
time, Hawker's chief designer, Sidney Camm, was working on a little
low-wing monoplane fighter with a fixed cantilever spatted undercarriage
powered by a 660 HP. Rolls-Royce Goshawk steam cooled motor. Designated
as the Fury Monoplane, it was supposed to enter production in 1935,
but it was canceled as Hawker found out that Rolls Royce had successfully
completed its PV 12 engine, which had an output of 1025 HP. The Fury
project was modified accordingly, and only eleven months later, on
the 6th of November 1935, the Hurricane prototype took off for the
first time. As it was the first British single-seat monoplane fighter
with a fully retractable undercarriage it created quite a sensation.
The Hurricane entered production in October 1937, and by
the early 1938, the 111st Fighter Squadron was equipped with the new
fighter. The plane was a clean, low-wing monoplane, powered by a Rolls-Royce
Merlin engine rated at 1025 HP at 5000 meters. The fuselage was mainly
a metal tube covered with fabric, oval in section. Wings were divided
in three main parts : a central section and two outer wings, all of
them built around framework of light metal ribs covered initially
by fabric, but since 1938 completely new stressed-skin outer wing
was designed. The landing gear had two Vickers shuck-absorber struts
retracting inwards and a fixed tail wheel. A Rolls Royce Merlin III
engine driving a Rotol three-bladed, constant-speed, airscrew was
selected as powerplant. The plane had a bullet-proof windscreen and
was armed with 8 Browning 7.7 mm ( 0.303 inches ) machine guns ( four
in each wing ).
The men of the 53rd Fighter Squadron in June 1941. Behind
them you can see one of ARR's Hurricane I's
Hurricane's qualities were demonstrated by the commanding officer
of 111's squadron, Squadron Leader J. W. Gillan, as on February the 10th,
1938, he flew from Edinburgh to Northolt at an average speed of 650 km/h.
Even if the pilot had stiff tail-wind all the way, it was a remarkable
The ARR had placed an order for 50 Hurricane I's in September
1939, but only 12 were received as the RAF had priority over any other
orders. In 1940 Romania had to join the Axis, so it became impossible
to buy any more planes from Britain. Existing Hurricanes were used to
equip the 53rd Fighter Squadron, who was stationed in Dobrogea, defending
Constantza harbor and the vital rail bridge at Cernavoda.
On the 22nd of June, 1941, the 53rd Fighter Squadron entered
the war together with the rest of ARR's squadrons. The Hurricanes performed
very well throughout the Bassarabian campaign, during which they claimed
to have shot down more than 40 Russian planes for no losses. Captain Horia
Agarici was the hero of one the most spectacular actions of the campaign,
as he shot down three Soviet DB-3 bombers in a single day with his Hurricane
I and forced another bomber formation to abort its mission and turn around.
The Hurricane was popular with its pilots thanks to its rugged simplicity
and great firepower provided by its 8 machine guns.
After the campaign ended, serious maintenance problems started
to appear, as spare parts were all but impossible to find, and all planes
were beginning to show serious signs of attrition. The Hurricanes were
taken out of service by late 1942, as there were enough of the new IAR-80's
to replace them.