Hawker Hurricane MkIIA Z3055

Read about 'Merlins over Malta'.

The return of a Spitfire and Hurricane to Malta in 2005.

Hawker Hurricane

Hawker Hurricane

Hawker Hurricane

Hawker Hurricane

Hawker Hurricane

The aircraft after restoration

Technical Specifications

Chronology
  • Z3055 was built by Hawker Aircraft Co. in 1941 powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin XX.

  • This aircraft was one of forty-two Hurricanes delivered to Malta in May/June 1941. They were flown off the carrier HMS Ark Royal as part of Operation Rocket.

  • It was operational in July 1941.

  • Z3055, the eight gun Hurricane IIA of No.46 Squadron, exhibited at the Malta Aviation Museum, took off from Safi strip just before daybreak on 4 July 1941. For some unknown reason (thought to be engine fire), the pilot, Sgt. Thomas Hackston, ditchd into the sea and was lost. The Merlin XX powered aircraft, one of forty-two Hurricanes delivered to Malta (Operation Rocket) had flown off the carrier H.M.S. Ark Royal, barely a month earlier. One of the 5th production batch of 1,000 aircraft built at Kingston the aircraft was delivered from the factory to 48 Maintenance Unit at Hewarden on 27 February 1941 and prepared for squadron service. It was transferred to Abbotsinch the following month but only stayed until it was transferred to 5 Maintenance Unit at Kemble. It was delivered back to Abbotsinch on 18 May, for shipment to Malta and taken on charge in Malta (126 Squadron) in July 1941

  • In 1993, the fighter was located by diver, David Schrembi, at a depth of 40 metres only a short distance from the coast off Wied Iz-Zurrieq.

  • On Thursday, 19th September 1995 the aircraft was salvaged from the seabed.

  • Restoration was started at the Museum by David Polidano and during 1999 the airframe was essentially completed. Work started on the cockpit instrumentation, engine cooling systems, oil cooling system and pneumatic systems for the brakes.

  • In 2000 the rudder and elevators were rigged and working properly.

  • Also in 2000 work started on the Rolls Royce Merlin engine and with the benefit of expert advice and the donation of a complete wartime Merlin 224 engine there were enough parts to make up a serviceable engine.

  • By 2001 progress was such that it was time to have the fuselage covered. This job was done by Vintage Fabrics from the UK.

  • Also in 2001, after completing its rebuild the Merlin engine ran for the first time. This was a significant milestone as it meant that the aircraft could be restored to 'taxiing' condition.

  • During 2002 the engine was installed, electrical installation completed and the various systems finished. Finally a freshly overhauled de Havilland propeller was fitted.

  • In the first half of 2003 work continued to complete the fuselage and in July it was painted in its final Warbird scheme.

  • During 2004 and 2005 work continued by volunteers to complete the wings in time for the inauguration of the Museum's new Air Battle of Malta Memorial Hangar in September 2005.

The name of the Hurricane will forever be linked with the Battle of Britain, in which, with its partner the Spitfire, it added one of the most glorious chapters in the annals of the Royal Air Force. During that fateful engagement of 1940, Hurricane pilots shot down more enemy aircraft than all other defences, air and ground, combined. Later the Hurricane added its laurels in defence of Malta, in the Western Desert and in Burma; indeed no other Allied aircraft ever fought in as many theatres as did the Hurricane.

The project began life as a private venture, intended to meet the requirements of Specification F.36/34, issued in early 1935. The first prototype, K5083, was ordered on 21 February 1935, and made its maiden flight in the hands of Group Captain PWS Bulman on 6 November that year. The Hurricane, as it came to be named, was a winner from the start, and in June the Hawker Board of Directors decided to prepare for production of 1,000 aircraft on their own authority. This action galvanised the Air Ministry into action and in very short time an official contract for 600 Hurricanes was placed.

The first production Hurricane was flown on 12 October 1937. The first Hurricanes in service had two-blade fixed-pitch propellers. This was soon improved by the substitution of a de Havilland two-position three-blade metal propeller and, in 1939, the excellent Rotol constant-speed propeller.

The Hawker-type fuselage, which had featured in all, Hart variants and Furies since the 1920s, was retained in the Hurricane in preference to modern but complicated metal fuselage, in order to speed production of Hurricanes. By August 1940, the height of the Battle of Britain, a total of 2,309 Hurricanes had been delivered and 32 squadrons equipped, as against 19 Spitfire squadrons. At the outbreak of the war, Hurricanes were chosen to accompany the RAF bomber squadrons to France. The first enemy aircraft shot down by RAF fighters on the Western Front was by a Hurricane. The type was also involved in the desperate fighting in Norway.

On 2 August 1940 Hurricanes of No.261 Squadron were flown off the carrier H.M.S. Argus to relieve the hard pressed Sea Gladiators in the defence of Malta against attacks by the Italian Air Force. These were among the first Hurricanes to operate in the Mediterranean theatre, and joined a handful of Hurricanes which had been flown out to Malta from Britain the previous month via France and North Africa.

No Account of the Hurricane would be complete without reference to the work of the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit which, in 1941, helped to protect vital convoys in the Atlantic from attacks by the enemy maritime bombers. These Hurricanes, mostly time expired machines, were equipped to be catapulted from the decks of merchant ships and the pilot later parachuting into the freezing sea to await rescue.

In the late 1944 the 12,711th and final Hurricane built in Britain (there were also over 1,400 built in Canada) was completed.

 

Brief History