With 49 combat sorties, five enemy aircraft destroyed, and being itself shot down in the Battle of Britain, Hawker Hurricane R4118 is regarded as the most historic British aircraft to survive in flying condition from the Second World War.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF R4118 UP*W
Hawker Hurricane Mark I, R4118, was delivered new to 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron at Drem on 17 August 1940. During the Battle of Britain it flew 49 sorties from Croydon and shot down five enemy aircraft. After being battle damaged on 22 October 1940, the aircraft was rebuilt and taken on charge by 111 Squadron at Dyce on 18 January 1941. There it was flown on patrol over the North Sea and was again in combat. Over the following two years it was used primarily as a training aircraft with 59 and 56 OTUs, and was rebuilt a further three times following major accidents, including hitting a lorry on the runway and being stuffed into a snowbank!
In December 1943, R4118 was crated at Cardiff and shipped to India as a training aircraft. However it was never needed and remained in its packing case in Bombay until 1947 when it was struck off charge. It was donated to a university for engineering instruction. The fuselage was stood outside in a compound with the propeller, wings and tailplane laid on the ground. There it remained as a “Time Capsule” and the ultimate “Barn Find” until June 2001 when Peter Vacher was able to conclude six-year-long negotiations and R4118 was loaded into a container and returned to the United Kingdom. The aircraft has been restored to flying condition over a three year period.
During its lifetime, it was fitted with no fewer than five Rolls-Royce Merlin III engines, and underwent four major rebuilds. It is still powered by a Merlin III (the only other aircraft in the world to retain a Merlin III is the Sea Hurricane at Shuttleworth). It is said to be the most historic fighter aircraft to have survived the war.
Meticulous restoration was undertaken by Hawker Restorations Ltd in Suffolk. This included fitting every piece of equipment which was in the aircraft during the Battle, such as the first of the VHF radios (the TR1133), the Identification Friend or Foe unit, the original 8 Browning machine guns, and the camera gun in the starboard wing.
Wing Commander Bob Foster, who shot down three enemy aircraft from R4118 during the Battle, was the Chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association until his passing in August 2014.
RESTORATION OF R4118 UP*W
The rebuild of the airframe of Hawker Hurricane Mk I R4118 was undertaken by Hawker Restorations Ltd. Considering that the aircraft had stood outside in India for 54 years, suffering the annual monsoons, it was in remarkable condition.
The centre section steel spars had to be replaced, as were the wing spars. Most aluminium parts were reused together with the internal wing structures. The hydraulic and fuel systems were preserved intact. Original electrical components and instruments were sourced.
Meticulous attention was paid to restoring R4118 exactly as it had been flown in the Battle of Britain. Even the original VHF radio and Identification Friend or Foe equipment were found. The original Browning .303 machine guns were reconditioned before being de-activated and refitted. The airframe was covered in original Irish linen and painted by Vintage Fabrics.
The early Merlin III engine was rebuilt by Maurice Hammond. The Rotol propeller was constructed by Skycraft and included new original-type wooden blades.
During the rebuild, every component was subjected to the rigorous demands of the Civil Aviation Authority, ensuring maximum safety and durability.
FOR SALE ON PLATINUM FIGHTERS FOR 2,500,000 POUNDS
Image of flying Hurricane copyright by Richard Paver