In this article, we will again focus on the creation of the hands of British aircraft manufacturers. Hawker Hurricane, designed by Hawker Aircraft Ltd. in 1934. In total, more than 14,500 copies were built.
In general, it was a reworking of the Fury biplane, which was quite successful for the early 30s of the aircraft, but outdated even at the design stage. During the development of the Hurricane, a large number of units and parts from Fury were used, which somewhat made life easier for manufacturers.
The new aircraft was a monoplane and, unlike its predecessor, had a retractable landing gear and a variable-pitch propeller.
But by the time it was published, and this happened in 1936, the Hurricane was no longer something new in the aircraft industry, on the contrary, the plane came out more than mediocre.
The load-bearing frame was made using the same technology as the frame of biplanes, where rivets were preferred to welded joints. The fuselage was truss, made of steel pipes, spars covered with linen were attached to it. This design had a fairly high strength and greater resistance to explosive projectiles than the metal-plated Supermarine Spitfire. The wing consisted of two spars and was also covered with fabric. It was only in 1939 that an all-metal wing made of duralumin was developed to replace it.
The plane came out rather heavy and slow, despite the new Rolls-Royce PV-12 engine, which would later go down in history as "Merlin". 510 km / h at an altitude of 5,000 meters and 475 below - this was not an indicator. Plus, the frankly weak armament of eight wing-mounted machine guns of 7.62 mm caliber.
Various aircraft modifications could act as interceptors, fighter-bombers (also known as "Hurribombers") and attack aircraft. For operations from aircraft carriers, there was a modification called the "Sea Hurricane".
Nevertheless, the British willingly shared the new plane with the whole world. Not gratuitously, of course.
Union of South Africa, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Portugal, France, Turkey, Iran, Romania, Finland, Yugoslavia, the list of happy owners of this aircraft is great. The British are generally generous people, especially when it comes to the principle "give to others, God, what is worthless for yourself."
This cup did not pass the Soviet Union either.
Having fought in France and Africa by the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Hurricane had already won such fame that the British had to seriously think about where to shake off this miracle, while at least something was given for it. Everyone knew that the Hurricane was completely inferior to its main enemy, the Messerschmitt-109 E / F.
But by that time the British had run-in "Spitfire", which was three heads superior to "Hurricane". However, writing off or sending for disassembly is not in the rules of English gentlemen …
At the very beginning of the Great Patriotic War, Stalin did not have to choose at all. And Churchill's "generous" offer to supply 200 (and in the future more) Hurricanes was accepted. The planes were needed. And in August 1941, Stalin and Churchill shook hands. Figuratively.
On August 28, 1941, the first Hurricanes arrived in Murmansk.
This is how the Hurricane went down in history as the first Allied combat aircraft to arrive in the USSR. Yes, the Americans sent their P-40s earlier, but while they were sailing to the USSR, the Hurricanes flew in on their own.
The first swallows were from the 151st Air Wing, based on the Argus aircraft carrier. After a while, they were joined by another 15 Hurricanes, delivered by cargo ships to the port of Arkhangelsk. In addition, the Hurricanes came to us by the Southern Route through Iran.
In total, in 1941-44, 3082 aircraft of this type were accepted in the USSR (including 2834 aircraft received by military aviation).
It is worth saying a few words about the British pilots.
A group of pilots from the 81st and 134th squadrons under the command of H. J. Ramsbott-Isherwood, together with Soviet pilots, covered convoys on the approaches to Murmansk and even to escort Soviet bombers.
On September 12, the 134th squadron shot down two Me-109s accompanying the Hs-126 spotter. The British lost one plane, Sergeant Smith was killed. This was the only loss suffered by the British on the Karelian front.
On September 17, eight Hurricanes accompanying SB-2 were attacked by eight Messers. The British did not allow the Germans to break through to the bombers and even shot down one Me-109.
At the end of September, the British returned home. Before leaving, the wing commander and three victorious pilots were presented to the Order of Lenin.
And their "Hurricanes" remained in the USSR. From these aircraft, the 78th IAP was formed, which was headed by Boris Safonov.
Meanwhile, on September 22, 1941, the Air Force Research Institute commission accepted the first Hurricane, delivered directly to the Soviet Union as part of Lend-Lease supplies.
The test pilots of the Air Force Research Institute very quickly tested the aircraft and issued conclusions.
According to the test data, in terms of speed, the car occupied an intermediate position between the I-16 and Yak-1. The Hurricane was inferior to its main enemy, Me-109E, in speed at low and medium altitudes (40-50 km / h) and in climb rate. Only at heights of 6500-7000 m did their capabilities become approximately equal.
When diving and pitching, the Hurricane did not actually accelerate due to its thick wing profile. This uniqueness was noted in their memoirs by many Soviet pilots. The positive side (in part) could be considered a small turning radius, achieved due to the low load on the wing, which made it possible to fight on horizontal lines.
The chassis was designed very unsuccessfully from the Soviet point of view. Despite the fairly rear centering, the bonnet angle was only 24 degrees, taking into account braking, while our Air Force Research Institute determined at least 26.5 degrees. The degree of nosing became even smaller as ammunition and fuel were consumed.
When landing on uneven ground of field aerodromes, the danger of skapotizing was very high. In this case, first of all, the wooden blades of the Rotol propeller broke, which, of course, could not be repaired.
Scotch "Hurricane" could quite freely and when taxiing. This fighter generally had an unpleasant tendency to raise its tail when the engine was running (for the sake of fairness, it is worth noting the same ability of the Yaks). To protect the car from trouble, one or two mechanics were often put on the back of the fuselage. Naturally, there were cases when the pilots took off along with the mechanics on the tail.
In general, the nickname "Pterodactyl" was well deserved.
But the most sore spot were the wooden propellers. According to information, a very large number of aircraft were idle precisely because of the damage to the propellers. At the beginning of 1942, our aircraft factories had to organize the production of propellers and spare parts for them.
Nevertheless, it was necessary to fly and fight on something. And, no matter how strange it may seem, our pilots discovered positive aspects of this fighter.
The plane turned out to be simple and obedient in piloting. The load on the handle was not great, the rudder trims were effective. "Hurricane" easily and steadily performed various figures, especially in the horizontal. In general, the aircraft was quite accessible to pilots of average skill, which was important in wartime conditions.
Full radio coverage of the Hurricanes was a big plus. It's no secret that on Soviet fighters of that time, transmitters were supposed to be installed on every third plane, the flight commander. And the quality was, shall we say, not subject to any criticism. The Hurricanes had radios (and not bad ones) to one and all.
However, there was a fly in the ointment here too. The British radios operated on separate batteries, despite the fact that the plane had a battery. The Russian winter, especially in the conditions of our North, showed that the battery charge was enough for a maximum of a couple of hours of work, which is not a shaman around them.
But even taking into account all the advantages found, it became clear to everyone that the Hurricane was significantly inferior to enemy fighters. But, again, it was necessary to fly and beat the enemy.
Therefore, already in 1941, the Hurricanes began to be altered in terms of concepts and capabilities, in order, if not to eliminate, then at least to mitigate the main shortcomings of the British fighter.
Already in the fall of 1941, in the 78th IAP, at the suggestion of its commander B. F. Safonov, the first alteration was made. Instead of four Browning guns, they installed two 12.7 mm UBK machine guns with a stock of 100 rounds per barrel and added two holders for a 50-kg bomb. The firepower was also enhanced with four RS-82 rockets.
In January 1942 in the 191st IAP on the plane N. F. Kuznetsov delivered two ShVAK cannons. Similar work began to be carried out in other parts.
Regular armored backs, which did not have good protection, were replaced by Soviet ones. At first, this was done right in the regiments, installing armored backs from the I-16 and I-153, and then they began to improve the aircraft in the factory when replacing the weapons.
In March 1942, the Soviet command decided to make life easier for aircraft technicians and pilots and stop amateur activities.
It was decided to carry out a complete modernization of the Hurricane's weapons, bringing it in line with the requirements of the time.
For comparison, three versions of the modified Hurricane were made:
1. With four 20-mm ShVAK cannons.
2. With two ShVAK cannons and two UBT heavy machine guns.
3. With four drill collars.
Option number 3 gave a hefty gain in weight and did not worsen flight characteristics (perhaps, there was simply nowhere to worsen further). However, option 2 was adopted as the main one.
Perhaps this was due to the general lack of large-caliber machine guns in the spring of 1942.
Moreover, the first batches were produced in general with four ShVAKs, according to version # 1. The Hurricane's weapons modernization program also provided for the installation of bomb racks and six guides under the RS-82 under the wings.
Alteration (it is difficult to call it modernization) for domestic weapons was carried out at the Moscow plant number 81 and in the workshops of the 6th IAK Air Defense in Podlipki, Moscow Region.
There, both newly arrived aircraft from the British and those already at the front were refined. Brigades from factory # 81 also performed this operation at the airfields near Moscow in Kubinka, Khimki, Monin and Yegoryevsk.
Interesting model: two-seater fighter-bomber with a machine gun protecting the rear hemisphere. Made in Canada, but about a hundred of these machines came to us.
Beginning in mid-1942, the Hurricane was increasingly used as a fighter-bomber or light attack aircraft. 4 cannons 20 mm, 2 bombs of 100 kg and 6-8 rockets - a very impressive impact power.
The Hurricane with such a load was still easy to handle. There was only a slight deterioration in take-off performance, but again, there was nowhere to worsen. And the top speed dropped by 40-42 km / h. But since the speed of the Hurricane did not initially shine, 400-450 km / h was considered a sufficient figure for an attack aircraft.
1943 marked the end of the Hurricane's frontline service. It was replaced by both domestic aircraft and the same "Airacobras". And judging by the memoirs of the pilots, the regimental commanders by hook or by crook tried to get rid of the Pterodactyls.
So the main area of application of the Hurricanes were air defense units. Hurricanes began to arrive there as early as December 1941, but from the end of 1942 this process sharply accelerated. This was facilitated by the arrival of II C aircraft from England, which turned out to be even slower than their predecessors.
Despite the seemingly impressive armament of four cannons (ShVAK or Hispano with a 20-mm caliber), the Hurricane (both IIB and IIC) showed its complete inadequacy as a fighter. But for German bombers it could still pose some kind of threat.
Although the same Junkers Ju-88 A-4 was already a difficult target. And not because of the altitude or small arms defensive weapons, but because of the speed higher than that of the Hurricane.
Therefore, it is not surprising that most of the type IIC machines supplied to the USSR ended up in the air defense regiments. They had, for example, the 964th IAP, which covered Tikhvin and the Ladoga highway in 1943-44. If on July 1, 1943, there were 495 Hurricanes in the air defense, then on June 1, 1944 there were already 711. They served there throughout the war, and not without results. Air defense pilots on "Kharitons" shot down 252 enemy aircraft.
Of course, the Hurricane could not earn recognition from Soviet pilots. Far from the most powerful (1030 hp) engine, which was just about to become the famous "Merlin", it was designed for gasoline with an octane rating of 100.
In practice, Hurricanes were often fueled with domestic B-70 or B-78 gasoline, at best with a mixture of B-100 and B-70. The oil was also not of the best quality. As a result, the engine lacked power and was not very reliable.
And the pilots who flew in "Pterodactyls" could not boast of a large number of downed enemy aircraft. Weak machine gun armament or strong cannon, but low flight qualities became the main obstacle for this.
The largest number of victories on the Hurricane was won by the pilots of the Northern Fleet, Hero of the Soviet Union, Captain Pyotr Zgibnev, and Hero of the Soviet Union, Major Vasily Adonkin - 15 victories each. Twice Hero of the Soviet Union Boris Safronov - 12.
The bulk of good and excellent pilots had 5-7 victories until they were transferred to Soviet or American aircraft.
Summing up, it should be noted that in the winter of 1941/42, most of our aircraft factories were evacuated beyond the Urals. Aircraft production dropped to a minimum, and we suffered losses. At that moment, American and British planes began to arrive, which was very helpful.
Yes, the Hurricane was a pretty shabby war machine. But at the time, it was better than nothing. The hammer-and-file processing eventually bore some fruit, and as a result, our pilots could still fight on it.
So to say that 3 thousand "Hurricanes" were a dead burden, it is impossible. They came to us at the most difficult time and contributed to our victory over the enemy.
But after 1942, when the production of our fighters was launched, which surpassed the Hurricanes in combat capabilities, the Kharitons were sent to the rear and air defense.
A logical result.