Sea Hurricane P3114 of 800 squadron in 1942


The Hawker Sea Hurricane was a variant of the Hawker Hurricane.  During World War II the Fleet Air Arm took on charge some 440 Sea Hurricanes, 60 of which were built new as Sea Hurricanes and the rest were conversions from former RAF Hurricanes some of which dated from 1938. The Sea Hurricane was initially deployed not for aircraft carrier operations but to protect merchant shipping. To combat German maritime-reconnaissance bombers, some ships were converted into CAMs (catapult aircraft merchantmen) which meant that a Hurricane fighter could be launched from the ship when danger approached. The biggest problem was that the fighter could not re-land on board, and so the pilot had to ditch it in the sea. The main areas of operation for the 'Hurricat' or 'Catafighters' were in the Mediterranean and Baltic. Later versions of the Sea Hurricane operated from aircraft carriers, being fitted usually with catapult spools and arrester hook, but by 1943 the Sea Hurricane had all but disappeared from service.

Photograph of Hurricane prototype K5083 which first flew 6 11.1935

The Hawker Hurricane prototype K5083 first took to the air on 6 November,1935 and was operational in 1937. It was a monoplane fighter with an enclosed cockpit and retractable undercarriage, and the RAFs first fighter capable of a level speed in excess of 300 mph (483 km/h), and its first eight-gun fighter. The Hurricane shouldered the lion's share of Britain's defence during the " Battle of Britain", and was largely responsible for the successful outcome of the Battle, equipping more than three-fifths of RAF Fighter Command's squadrons.When it became clear that the Hurricane was becoming outclassed as a pure fighter, other duties were assigned to it, including as the Sea Hurricane. The Royal Navy was keen to acquire the Hurricane to help in the Battle of the Atlantic which, in early 1940, had a steep rise in shipping losses far from shore, in areas where land- based aircraft could not provide air cover for Allied convoys. This gave rise to the 'Hurricat', a converted Hurricane carried by CAM-ships. Hurricanes converted for such a role needed only the addition of catapult spools, and 50 Hurricane Mk I land-planes so modified and designated Sea Hurricane Mk IA.

The Hurricat were mounted on and launched from a catapult at the ship's bows, the Hurricane was flown off on what was usually a one-way flight: after providing defence for the convoy there was no where for the pilot to land, which meant he was obliged to bailout, or ditch his aircraft as near as possible to the convoy, hoping to be picked up. Not all CAM ship aircraft were FAA Hurricanes, the RAF converted and operated a few of its own Hurricanes. The provision of long-range drop-tanks beneath the wings, introduced in August 1941 after the CAM-ships had been provided with more powerful catapults for the higher gross weight.

The first of the Sea Hurricanes to see service with the Fleet Air Arm arrived in February 1941 and were operating with front line unit 880 squadron from 15 March 1941. Overseas deliveries commenced with shipping in HMS Furious to 807 squadron at Gibraltar 1 July 1941 (eg V7301, V7623), Many shipped to Simonstown in SS Lt St Lonbert Brie thence to 800 squadron HMS Indomitable in July 1942 (eg V7416), some shipped to South Africa in SS City of Bombay 9 January 1942 (eg Z4056) and others shipped in SS Belgian Seaman to Takoradi from Liverpool 30 June 1942 (eg BP709). A significant loss occurred when Sea Hurricanes were sunk with HMS Eagle which was torpedoed on 11 August 1942 (eg V6854).

The Sea Hurricane Mk I were followed by about 300 Mk Is converted to Sea Hurricane Mk IB configuration, these having catapult spools plus a V-frame arrester hook: in addition 25 Mk IIA were modified as Sea Hurricane IB or Hooked Hurricane II fighters. Their initial role was a considerable improvement on CAM-ship deployment, for from October 1941 they began to go to sea aboard MAC-ships, these being large Merchant ships fitted with a small flight deck.

Sea Hurricane Mk IC fighters, introduced in February 1942 were conventional Mk I conversions with catapult spools and arrester hook; they had, however, the four-cannon wing of the land-based Hurricane Mk IIC. The Sea Hurricane Mk IIC, was intended for Fleet carrier operations and, consequently, was without catapult spools. This version was also used as hurri-cats. They introduced also to navy service the Merlin XX engine, and carried FAA radio equipment. Mk.IIC's with 4-cannon wings built by Hawker and delivered between December 1942 and May 1943. The Sea Hurricane Mk X - Canadian built Hurricane X converted to Sea Hurricane standards were all classified either Mk.IA or Mk.IB by the RN, even though all used the two-stage Packard Merlin 28.  Thet were all built with eight .303 machine guns. The Sea Hurricane Mk XII - Conversion of Canadian Hurricane XII for Royal Canadian Navy with full naval equipment. Packard Merlin 29 with twelve .303 machine guns. The last of the Sea Hurricane variants was the Sea Hurricane Mk XIIA, of which a small number were converted from Canadian-built Mk XIIs, and these were used operationally in the North Atlantic. Although the Sea Hurricane last saw service in 1945, Sea Hurricane NF670 was still extant on the East Kirby dump in 1956/57.
 Mk I      One Hurricane Mk I conversion; Catapult spools and arrester hooks
 Mk IA      50 Hurricane conversion; catapult spools only; specially produced for
                     CAM fighter scheme - launched from CAM ships
 Mk IB      300 Mk I (merlin III) and 25 Mk IIA series 2 conversions; Catapult
                     spools and arrester hook (MAC-ship service)
 Mk IC      Hurricane Mk I conversion with four-cannon wings; catapult spools
                     and arrester hook
 Mk IIC      Arrester hook and naval radio equipment
 Mk XIIA    Canadian built navalised Mk XII, with Packard Merlin XXIX engine

    Fleet Air Arm history
        Hawker Sea Hurricane
        Total FAA 1939-1945              443
             Total Sea Hurricane Ia         50
             Total Sea Hurricane Ib         290
             Total Sea Hurricane II          42
             Total Sea Hurricane IIc        60
        First delivered to RN:               Feb 1941
        First squadron 1939-1945:         760 sqdn 1941, 880 sqdn 1941
        Operational squadron:               880 sqdn 1941
        Last served with RN                 1945 - East Kirby dump 1956/57 (NF670).

Various 18 transfers from RAF, including many conversions to Sea Hurricane MkI variants fitted with 1,030hp R-R Merlin III, Mk II variants with 1,289hp R-R Merlin XX

To RN                1.41 (W9237), 2.41 W9215, at Yeovilton 3.41 (L1663)
First sqdn            760 sqdn Yeovilton P3829 in  5.41
First op sqdn:       880 sqdn 15.3.41 (W9219), 804 sqdn 4.41 at Yeovilton (W9182), 800 sqdn 6.41 , 880 sqdn
                          6.41 (P3925), 804 sqdn 6.41 (L1895), 759/760 sdns Yeovilton (N2352)
Last in RN:          774 sqdn LF630 on 2.45, 771 sqdn 1.45 LF704. LF630 returned to RAF at BAFO
                          Communications Flight 6.45
Most op sqdn        Last used the type in 1943-44.

RCAF 325 (Hurricane I)(ex RCAF) To RNDA 5MU 6.9.42

60 Hawker Sea Hurricane IIc ordered under Contract no Acft/2719 from Hawker, Langley.
serial Numbers: NF668 to NF739

Delivered             36 to TOC Yeovilton SS 12.42
First sqdn            12.42 to 804 sqdn NF672, 804 sqdn on 1.43 NF670 (a number to 804 sqdn early in 1943)
Last                    East Kirby dump 1956/57 (NF670). Remains at Henry Bath and Sons Dump, Kirkby 5.1957
Last op sqdn        most to 1944 , very few to 1945

Aircraft Type:
Hawker Sea Hurricane 
Sea Hurricane Mk I, Ib, II
Primary Role:
Carrier-Borne Fighter
First Flight: 
Prototype Hurricane 6.11.1935
Prototype Sea Hurricane 1941
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
Sea Hurricane: 1280 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin XII engine
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan : 40 feet (12.20 m)
Length: 31 feet; 4 inches (9.82 m)
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Weight: 7,200 lbs combat-loaded (3500 kg)
Max. speed: 340 mph (530 km/h) 
Ceiling : 35,000 feet (9500 m)
Rate of climb: 3,150 feet per minute
Range: 468 miles (740 km)
Eight .303 calibre Browning machine guns
Two 500-lb bombs or eight rockets
700, 702, 731, 748, 759, 760, 761, 762, 766, 768, 769, 774, 776, 778, 779, 781, 787, 788, 789, 791, 792, 794, 795,
800, 801, 802, 803, 804, 806,  813, 824, 825, 835, 877, 880, 882, 883, 885, 891, 895, and 897.
Battle honours:
Additional references and notes:
General information about the aircraft.
Battle Honours and Operational History

Sea Hurricane IIc of 835 Squadron, HMS Nairana, 1944

The Fleet Air Arm Sea Hurricane saw significant operational activities in many theatres of the war. They were involved in Operation Harpoon, Operation Pedestal to Malta, Operation Ironclad to Madagascar and in convoy duties where the aircraft claimed a high number of enemy aircraft shot down, the CAM ship Hurricats alone claimed six enemy aircraft destroyed in the last five months of 1941, the first success coming on 3 August 1941, when Lt RWH Everett intercepted and destroyed a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor. Another typical operation was with FAA Hurricane W9215 flown by Sub Lt CW Walker of 804 squadron who took part in Convoy HG73. The aircraft was launched from Maplin on 14 September 1941 to drive away a Fw200, the pilot baling out into sea 100 miles southwest of Eire. He was later picked up by HMS Rochester and his aircraft lost.

The Sea Hurricane's most famous action was fought during August 1942, when aircraft serving with 801, 802 and 885 squadrons aboard the carriers HMS Indomitable, HMS Eagle and HMS Victorious, joined with Fairey Fulmars and Grumman Martlets to protect a vital convoy to Malta, in Operation Pedestal. During three days of almost continuous attack by an Axis force of bombers, torpedo-bombers and escorting fighters, 39 enemy aircraft were destroyed for the loss of eight naval fighters.

Sea Hurricane 7-F
Fleet Air Arm Sea Hurricanes were also adept at hunting and attacking German submarines. Hurricane NF732 flown by Sub Lt WA John of 825 squadron with BX126 and JS272 attacked a U-boat on 22 August 1944. The next day, Hurricane NF732 flown by Sub Lt DR Johnston of 825 squadron attacked a U-boat on 23 August 1944. Also on 23 August, Hurricane NF680 flown by Lt Cdr WDD MacDonald of 825 squadron on HMS Vindex, attacked another U-Boat.

 SEA HURRICANE Mk. IB, 880 Squadron, HMS Indomitable, Indian Ocean, May 1942 Operation Ironclad - Invasion of Madagascar

Surviving aircraft and relics
There are currently 53 extant Hurricane Extant airframes, including 7 replicas. This includes a total of 5 acknowledged former Fleet Air Arm Sea Hurricanes. Sea Hurricane  IB Z7015 Shuttleworth Collection, Duxford G-BKTH,  Sea Hurricane XIIA BW853/G-BKRE) (used to re-build BW881), and Sea Hurricane XIIA BW881 Private, Milden (G-KAMM)(See The Hawker Hurricane - the RAF's forgotten fighter star of the Battle of Britain for additional list of extant Hurricanes).

Hawker Restoration Ltd., Sudbury, Colchester, Suffolk (UK) has four Hurricanes under various stages of restoration including Sea Hurricane X AE977 (G-TWTD).

Fleet Air Arm Sea Hurricane Z7015 of Shuttleworth Collection at Duxford
Fleet Air Arm Sea Hurricane Ib Z7015 of Shuttleworth Collection at Duxford was formerly of 880 and 801 squadrons between 1941-1942. It was at Loughborough College 1954-1959. It is currently airworthy and routinely flying at Duxford and on the airshow circuit.
Restored Sea Hurricane Z7015

Associations and reunions
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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