airworthy-hawker-sea-hurricane-Z7015 (Image: John5199; The Shuttleworth Collection’s Sea Hurricane Z7015)

The Hawker Hurricane, workhorse of the Battle of Britain, may not have captured the public imagination to the same degree as the more glamorous Spitfire during the long summer of 1940, but nevertheless accounted for some 55 per cent of enemy kills. Popular with pilots, the heavily-armed Hurricane proved itself to be a versatile and robust fighter. British ace Douglas Bader regarded it as “a marvellous gun platform”, which dispatched countless Luftwaffe aircraft, mainly bombers, to the bottom of the English Channel. But had it not been for the tenacity of legendary aeronautical engineer Sir Sydney Camm, the Hurricane may never have gone into production at all.

When Camm first proposed his design to the Air Ministry in 1934, it was rejected in favour of what became Supermarine’s “thoroughbred” Spitfire. Undeterred, Camm pursued his venture privately, with the government eventually placing an order for 600 of what would become more than 14,500 Hurricanes, to be rolled out of factories across Britain and the Commonwealth over the next decade. During the Battle of Britain, at the hands of The Few, the two fighters cemented their place in history, defending the skies of southern England against Germany’s aerial armada at overwhelming odds.

Camm’s rugged design would prove adaptable to all manner of roles throughout the war, from fighter-bomber to maritime reconnaissance in all major theatres of battle. Older versions were even adapted as catapult launched ‘Hurricats’ in a bid to protect shipping convoys. But when the Second World War came to a close, airworthy Hurricanes became an endangered species by comparison to its Supermarine rival. In recent decades, though, that trend has slowly been reversing, as more and more Hurricanes are brought back to life.

This article is an attempt to document the world’s last airworthy Hurricanes as they are today. Among them are those undergoing restoration to flight, and others on the cusp of ground running condition. In time, perhaps they too will fly again. (Click the left and right arrows, above, to visit each individual aircraft.)

Hurricane Mk XII 5481 (Australia)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-5481-C-FDNL (Image: Barry Griffiths)

Warbirds News reported last year that “Australia has a flyable Hawker Hurricane on its shores for probably the first time since the 1940s.” As of 2014, Hawker Hurricane Mk XII 5481 (civil registration C-FDNL) has been undergoing an extensive restoration to flying condition and, like aircraft V7476 – the only Hurricane ever based in Australia during World War Two – before it, will ultimately take to the skies above the Oceanian county once again. The Canadian-built Hurricane, which is now located in Scone, New South Wales, flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force from July 1942 until November 1944. But like many ex-RCAF fighters she ended up as a source of spare parts for maintaining farm machinery. The Hurricane was eventually saved and restored to airworthiness, changing owners several times over the years. Imported to Australia from Canada by ship, the vintage aircraft is understood to be in the care of Pay’s Air Service in NSW.

Hurricane Mk IV KZ321 (Canada)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-KZ321 (Image: Kogo)

At the present time, Hurricane Mk IV KZ321 (civil registration CF-TPM) is understood to be the world’s only airworthy Mark IV version of Hawker’s workhorse fighter. Previously flying under the registration G-HURY, the wartime aircraft was built in Hawker’s Kingston upon Thames factory in southwest London during 1942. Resplendent in desert camouflage today, KZ321 flew with No. 6 Squadron RAF at Grottaglie, southern Italy. The warbird also saw active duty in Greece and Yugoslavia before ending up as one of many airframes abandoned in Israel in 1947. Fortunately Hurricane KZ321 escaped scrapping and was returned to the UK in 1983. The aircraft was purchased in 2006 by the Vintage Wings of Canada Collection, based in Gatineau, Quebec.

Hurricane Mk XII 5418 (Canada)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-5418-2 (Image: D70)

In addition to the desert-painted KZ321, Canada is home to another functional Hurricane. The ex-RCAF Mk XII, serial number 5418, is displayed in the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. Built in 1942 and rendered little more than a derelict hulk after being struck off charge on August 20, 1946, the aircraft has been at the Alberta museum since around 1973. Its engine is understood to have been restored to running condition by December 1988. It’s unclear whether this Hurricane is truly airworthy at the current time, or what measures would be required to bring her back to life.

Hurricane Mk IIa DR393 (France)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-DR393 (Image: Alan Wilson)

France’s airworthy Hurricane, civil registration F-AZXR, was built as an early Mk I version under the serial number P3351. But after crashing near Prestwick in Scotland on July 21, 1940, the aircraft was completely rebuilt as a Mk II and delivered to the Soviet Air Force the following year, carrying the new number DR393, which it retains today. The aircraft’s war ultimately came to an end in 1943 when it crashed once again, this time near Murmansk. The hulk was ultimately returned to the UK and restored to flying condition in the 1990s before heading for New Zealand. Hurricane DR393 was later purchased by Jan Roozan and shipped back to Europe. The well-travelled warbird is now based at Cannes-Mandelieu near the French Riviera.

Hurricane Mk I R4118 (United Kingdom)

Hurricane-R4118-restored-12 (Image: Adrian Pingstone)

As one of the most highly respected British-designed fighter aircraft, it’s fitting that a good number of airworthy Hurricanes should reside in the UK. Among them is an especially rare example – Mk I serial number R4118 – which is currently the only airworthy Hurricane to have fought during the Battle of Britain (though other BoB veterans look set to fly again in due course). Hurricane R4118, now registered G-HUPW, downed five aircraft during 49 combat sorties over the course of World War Two, having originally been delivered in August 1940 to No. 605 Squadron at RAF Drem in Scotland. The well-worn Hurricane was later relegated to training purposes before being crated up and shipped to the Far East. Not needed, its gutted hulk was saved from a scrap heap behind the Banaras Hindu University’s engineering school. Returned to the UK, R4118 flew again in 2004 for the first time in 61 years, following an extensive three-year restoration. (Read our full feature on the aircraft.)

Sea Hurricane Mk Ib Z7015 (United Kingdom)

airworthy-hawker-sea-hurricane-Z7015-2 (Image: Alan Wilson)

Sea Hurricane Mk Ib Z7015, which is owned by the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden Aerodrome in Bedfordshire, is one of the most unique flying examples of its kind, sporting a distinctive Fleet Air Arm paint scheme of blue-grey camoflage and yellow fin. Aside from its Royal Navy service, the aircraft, now registered G-BKTH, has an intriguing history. It was originally built as a standard Hurricane Mk 1 in 1940 by the Canadian Car and Foundry Company in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The aircraft was soon transported to the UK and converted to Sea Hurricane standard in June 1941 for service with Nos. 759 and 880 Naval Air Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm. Tasked with protecting merchant ships plying the perilous waters of the north Atlantic, much of Z7015’s wartime service history remains strangely elusive.

What is known is that, following the end of World War Two, the Sea Hurricane was transferred to the engineering department at Loughborough College before passing to the Shuttleworth Collection in 1961. Like many of its surviving contemporaries, the aircraft made its film debut in the 1969 movie Battle of Britain, albeit as a static prop since it wasn’t airworthy at the time. Several restoration efforts were attempted, but it wasn’t until 1981 that the Sea Hurricane was transferred to the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford Aviation Society where, in partnership with the Shuttleworth Collection, a painstaking overhaul was undertaken. Finally, on September 16, 1995, Sea Hurricane Z7015 took to the air again, then the world’s only airworthy Sea Hurricane, and even now the only one of its kind to sport Royal Navy colours.

Hurricane Mk XII 5711/Z5140 (United Kingdom)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-Z5140 (Image: MilborneOne)

When this Hurricane Mk XII, civil registration G-HURI, was rebuilt in the 1980s, it was given the serial number 5711 in honour of the Hurricane that had donated the majority of its airframe for the restoration. But in reality 5711 was just one donor, and myriad other original parts were sourced over a 10-year-period from collections and wrecks across Canada. The RCAF Hurricane 5711 was built by the Canadian Car Foundary in 1942 and is understood to have served with No. 123 Squadron at CFS Debert in Nova Scotia. It also flew with 127 and 129 Squadrons at Dartmouth and No. 1 OTU at Bagotville. Since its first post-restoration flight in 2005, 5711 has worn a number of markings depicting different aircraft. In 2005, wearing the markings of Z5140, it became the first airworthy Hurricane to return to Malta since the end of the Second World War. To mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2015, 5711/Z5140 has been repainted as RAF Hurricane Mk 1 P3700, from which Polish pilot Sgt Kazimierz Wunsche was forced to bail out of over Poynings, Kent, on September 9, 1940 after being shot down by a Messerschmidt Bf 109. G-HURI is now operated by the Historic Aircraft Collection at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, home of the Imperial War Museum.

Hurricane Mk IIc LF363 (United Kingdom)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-LF363 (Image: Tony Smith)

It’s unclear how many lives Hurricane Mk IIc LF363 has, but the aircraft has seen two major rebuilds and a couple of significant restorations to date. Believed to be the last Hawker Hurricane to enter RAF service, the fighter first flew in January 1944 with No. 63 Squadron at RAF Turnhouse (now Edinburgh Airport) and later No. 309 (Polish) Squadron at nearby RAF Drem in Scotland. It also saw maritime reconnaissance service with 26 Squadron prior to the end of hostilities. After World War Two, LF363 was placed in storage and narrowly escaped scrapping thanks to the intervention of Air Commodore Stanley Vincent CB, DFC, AFC. The Hurricane Mk IIc was first restored in 1949, and was used for various ceremonial roles before undergoing a major overhaul by manufacturer Hawker.

In 1957, the veteran fighter was transferred to the Historic Aircraft Flight (now famously known as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight). But disaster struck in December 1991 when LF363 caught fire at RAF Wittering. The pilot escaped major harm though the aircraft required a complete rebuild, finally taking to the air again in 1998, seven years after the incident. LF363 received another major serviving from 2013 to 2014 in the BBMF hangar at RAF Coningsby, repainted to represent Hurricane Mk 1 P3395 ‘JX-B’ flown by Sergeant Pilot Arthur ‘Darkie’ Clowes DFM during the Battle of Britain. LF363 can also be seen at the start of the 1969 film of the same name, Battle of Britain, representing Hurricane H3422, coded ‘H’, which was stationed in France prior to evacuation.

Hurricane Mk IIc PZ865 (United Kingdom)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-PZ865 (Image: Flicktone)

Another Hurricane Mk IIc operated by the BBMF at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, PZ865 was the last of 14,533 Hawker Hurricanes to be built. Wearing the inscription ‘Last of the Many’ when it rolled off the production line in Langley, Buckinghamshire, Hurricane PZ865 was duly bought back by Hawker and, in 1950, came second in the King’s Cup Air Race with Group Captain Peter Townsend CVO DSO DFC at the controls. Coded ‘PZ’, the aircraft received a number of racing mods during that period, including the removal of its cannons, before hitting the display circuit in the 1960s. Toward the end of the decade it too appeared in the Battle of Britain movie, painted as Hurricane OK-1, the personal mount of Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park. PZ865 was finally presented to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in 1972 and received a set of replica 20mm cannons to complete its wartime appearance. Refurbished at Duxford in 2010, the aircraft now wears the colours of Hurricane HW840, coded ‘EG-S’ of No. 34 Squadron South East Asia Command. EG-S was the personal fighter of Canadian ace Flight Lieutenant Jimmy Whalen DFC, who was killed aged 23 on April 18, 1944 during the Battle for Kohima.

Hurricane Mk IIb 1374/BE505 (United Kingdom)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-BE505 (Image: Adrian Pingstone)

Built in 1942, Hurricane Mk IIb BE505 is the world’s only surviving airworthy ‘Hurri-bomber’. After serving with distinction during the Battle of Britain, fighting alongside the more glamorous Spitfire to ward off German invasion, many Hurricanes were pressed into service as fighter-bombers, taking the fight directly to the enemy over Occupied Europe. Armed with two 250lb bombs (later 500lb) and 12 Browning .303 inch machine guns, the robust and reliable Hurricane proved lethally effective in the role. Hurri-bomber BE505, civil registration G-HHII, never actually saw combat, which is probably why it’s still with us today.

Built under license by the Canadian Car & Foundry Company, the Hurricane was originally ordered as a Mk 1 for the RAF numbered AG287. But the production batch was diverted to the RCAF and the aircraft remained in Canada, serving in various training roles under the serial 1374, including a stint with No. 1 (F) OTU at Bagotville, Quebec. Withdrawn from use in September 1944, Hurri-bomber BE505 was one of many ex-RCAF Hurricanes bought by farmers as a source of valuable parts for the machinery needed to run the vast farms of the Canadian prairie. Unlike most of its contempories, however, BE505 remained relatively intact and was bought by collector Jack Arnold in the 1970s. The aircraft was ultimately restored to airworthy status by Suffolk-based Hawker Restorations and has been owned by the Hangar 11 Collection at North Weald since 2007. In 2009, another overhaul saw the Hurricane returned to her original fighter-bomber configuration, painted to represent Hurri-bomber BE505, a No. 174 (Mauritius) Squadron machine operated from RAF Manston during the spring of 1942.

Hurricane Mk IIa Z2389 (United Kingdom)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-Z2389 (Image: Alan Wilson)

It’s not serviceable yet, but it’s getting there! The majority of Hurricanes featured on this list have remarkable tales to tell, and though we understand that Z2389 is currently being restored to taxiing condition rather than airworthiness, its operational history in Russia – and the idea that, perhaps one day, it will take the skies again – deserves a mention. Hurricane Z2389, a Mk IIa model of Hawker’s famous fighter, was built at the company’s factory in Kingston upon Thames and first flew in 1940. It served with five different squadrons the following year, including No. 71 ‘Eagle’ Squadron, comprised of American volunteers operating from RAF Martlesham Heath. But in 1942, Z2389 became one of many Hurricanes earmarked for the Soviet Union under a lend-lease scheme that saw the Red Air Force operate foreign-built fighters against Luftwaffe pilots from bases in northern Russia. The aircraft was crated up and shipped to Murmansk, where it joined 767 Regiment on the Kola Peninsula. On June 20, 1942 Hurricane Z2389 became embroiled in a dogfight against two Messerschmitt Bf 109s and five Bf 110s and was ultimately shot down alongside two wingmen. F/Lt Ivan Kalashnikov survived the incident, though the wrecked Hurricane remained where it lay for the next 50 years. Partially restored in St Petersburg, the aircraft arrived at Brooklands Museum near Weybridge in 1997 where a full restoration began in earnest. Hurricane Z2389 now stands alongside an exhibition titled ‘Brooklands in the Battle of Britain’, recounting the airfield’s wartime history during the summer of 1940.

Hurricane Mk I L1639 (United Kingdom)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-L1639 (Image: Alan Wilson)

Over the past several years, the Cambridge Bomber and Fighter Society have been working with the 85 Squadron Association and other groups to restore a rare veteran of the Battle of France, potentially to airworthy condition. The aircraft, an early version of Hawker’s famous fighter, understood to be Hurricane Mk I L1639, was shot down on May 14, 1940 and was later recovered from its crash site in France. L1639 will be restored using as many original parts as possible, aided by components recovered from other wrecks in Russia. The photograph reveals the intricate tubing and framework around which the Hurricane’s design was based – using tried and tested technology which allowed it to be produced in large numbers at relatively low cost, though making the aircraft challenging to restore decades later on account of their structural complexity. Once L1639 has been restored, be it static or flight condition, the ex-85 Squadron fighter will be the second oldest surviving Hurricane in existence. It’s based at Little Gransden Airfield in Cambridgeshire.

Hurricane Mk XII 5667 (United States)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-5667-n2549 (Image: Owen O’Rourke)

Hurricane Mk XII 5667 is one of three examples of the famous Hawker fighter currently airworthy in the United States (the others being Sea Hurricanes, documented in the following pages). Registered as N2549 and operated by the Military Aviation Museum in Pungo, VA, near Virginia Beach, 5667’s path followed that of many Canadian Hurricanes after the end of World War Two – a source of mechanical parts to keep tractors running on a farm in Saskatchewan. Purchased from the RCAF mainly for its engine, for the princely sum of $100, the former fighter was stored in a barn for almost 20 years between 1947 and 1965. One of its wings had spent several decades under tow behind the farmer’s tractor in an effort to break up dirt ready for crop planting. Fortunately, however, Hurricane 5667 was saved by Neil Rose and made its way to Portland, Oregon where to be restored. The wartime fighter took to the skies again in 1994. It’s now based at the Virginia Beach Airport, a small grass strip to the south of Pungo.

Sea Hurricane Mk XII AE977

airworthy-hawker-sea-hurricane-AE977 (Image: Adrian Snood)

Two of America’s airworthy Hawker fighters are Sea Hurricanes, this one a Mk XII serial number AE977, which was brought back to life by Hawker Restorations Ltd near Sudbury, UK. When it finally flew again in July 2000, the test pilot described the aircraft as “the most beautiful Hurricane” he had ever flown. Manufactured as a Sea Hurricane in 1940, the Fleet Air Arm fighter was based at Yeovilton in Somerset. But on December 5, 1942 under the command of Squadron Leader Douglas Trevor King RNVR, AE977 crashed and determined to be beyond economical repair. Remarkably, the aircraft wasn’t scrapped and remained off the radar until 1960. Stored for a further 34 years, restoration finally began in earnest in 1994. Sea Hurricane AE977, registered as N33TF, was purchased by the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California before passing into the care of Comanche Warbirds Inc. of Houston, Texas.

Sea Hurricane Mk XII BW881 (United States)

airworthy-hawker-sea-hurricane-BW881-5429 (Image: Malcolm Nason)

In 2005, under the civil registration G-KAMM, Sea Hurricane Mk XII BW881 fired up its engine for the first time in years at Hawker Restorations’ facility in Suffolk, following a major overhaul on behalf of the Flying Heritage Collection at Everett, Washington. The Sea Hurricane was finished in the livery of No. 135 Squadron RCAF, a Canadian Home Defence unit which operated from Patricia Bay, British Columbia from 1942 to 1945. An interesting feature of the squadron was the use of a brighter shade of red paint on the fin and roundels, compared with those of other RAF and RCAF units. Known as Bulldog Squadron, 135’s fighters were also decorated with colourful nose-art during their time on station. Another superb product of Hawker Restorations, Sea Hurricane BW881 (wearing the serial 5429) is a magnificent surviving example of the type.

Three More Hurricanes at Hawker Restorations (United Kingdom)

airworthy-hawker-hurricane-p3717-g-hitt (Image: Tony Clarke; Hurricane Mk 1 P3717 G-HITT)

It’s fair to say that the increasing number of airworthy Hurricanes around the world is in large part down to Hawker Restorations Limited of Sudbury, in the East Anglian county of Suffolk. Having turned out a number of beautifully restored fighters over the years (many of them documented in this article), the company is currently understood to be working on three more early model Hurricanes in addition to a selection of other classic machines. Among them is Hurricane Mk I P2902 (G-ROBT), which crashed near Dunkirk in on May 31, 1940 and was later recovered in its wrecked state. Another aircraft, Hurricane Mk I p3717 (G-HITT) is a composite restoration based on the airframe of a Russian fighter. Finally, the ex-501 Squadron Hurricane Mk I V7497 (G-HRLI) crashed on September 28, 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the progress of these historic aircraft. In the meantime, if you have more information about these or other Hurricanes, or know of one that should be included in these pages, we’d love to hear from you.

Our final page (next) pays tribute to Hurricane Mk XIIb, registered G-HURR, which tragically crashed in 2007 at Shoreham Airport in the UK. The beautifully restored Hurricane was the only airworthy example of its kind painted in the all-black night-fighter configuration. Stunt pilot Brian Brown was killed in the accident.

Hurricane Mk XII (IIb) G-HURR

hawker-hurricane-g-hurr-2 (Image: Mark Butcher; G-HURR photographed in 2006 at RAF Breighton, a former 4 Group Bomber Command station)

Coded LK-A, Hurricane G-HURR’s all-black night-fighter colour scheme with bright red airscrew cone made it unique among the world’s airworthy Hurricanes. But sadly the Mk XII (IIb) aircraft was destroyed in a fireball after hitting the ground a mile north-west of Shoreham Airport, Brighton, on September 15, 2007. Forty-nine-year-old stunt pilot Brian Brown, who flew a fast jet during the opening scenes of the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, was tragically killed. Canadian-built G-HURR was taking part in an airshow when Brown followed another Hurricane into a climbing roll to the left. But unlike the first fighter, G-HURR didn’t have enough altitude to complete the manoeuver safely, entering a steep dive which Brown was unable to pull out of. The Hurricane Mk XII was destroyed after impacting the ground and bursting into flames. The aircraft’s night-fighter scheme was representative of Hurricane P2798, personal mount of Wing Commander Ian Richard Gleed, a doctor’s son from Finchley who was killed in action over Tunisia on April 16, 1943, aged 26.

Keep Reading – 12 Abandoned Wrecked & Recovered Aircraft of World War Two