Britain's BBMF Hurricane Painted To Honour Canadian

  • Nov 26, 2015 6:47am GMT

14,533 Hurricanes were built, the last PZ865, rolled off the Hawker production line in July 1944 with the inscription ‘The Last of the Many’. Today it flies in the colours of a Canadian pilot.

The plane, now part of the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight honours Canadian Flight Lieutenant Jimmy Whalen DFC. 3 years ago this famous Hurricane was transformed to faithfully replicate Hurricane Mk IIC HW840, coded ‘EG-S’, of 34 Squadron, South East Asia Command during 1944, the personal aircraft of the Canadian pilot.

(see BAE Systems video below)

According to the BBMF

Keen to preserve the last Hurricane ever built, Hawker purchased the aircraft back from the Air Ministry after it was built and kept it in storage. In 1950, PZ865 was entered in the King’s Cup Air Race by HRH Princess Margaret. Flown by Group Captain Peter Townsend CVO DSO DFC* it achieved second place.

Over the next three years ‘PZ’ participated in several other air races and was modified for racing with the removal of its cannons and the installation of two ‘overload’ wing fuel tanks.

During the 1960s, ‘PZ’ was returned to its wartime camouflage scheme and made numerous display appearances, often in the hands of the famous fighter pilot and test pilot Bill Bedford OBE AFC. It also appeared in the film ‘Battle of Britain’. In March 1972, after a complete overhaul, PZ865 was presented by Hawker Siddeley to the BBMF.

For many years the aircraft appeared as ‘The Last of the Many’ but eventually the inscription was removed and put on display in the BBMF headquarters. In 1996, replica 20mm cannons, funded by the Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association, were fitted to restore the aircraft’s appearance to that of a Mk IIC Hurricane.

PZ865 was sent to Duxford for major maintenance and refurbishment. From 2012 this famous Hurricane flew in a new colour scheme, faithfully replicating Hurricane Mk IIC HW840, coded ‘EG-S’, of 34 Squadron, South East Asia Command during 1944, the personal aircraft of Canadian pilot, Flight Lieutenant Jimmy Whalen DFC.

Sadly, Jimmy lost his life on 18 April 1944, 5 days before his 24th birthday, during the Battle for Kohima. He had carried out 176 sorties against the enemy, 107 being over enemy territory and 23 at night. He had to his credit 3 ME-109s destroyed and 1 damaged whilst flying from England and 3 Japanese Navy Val Type 99s destroyed over Ceylon.

The BBMF's other Hurricane, thought to be the last to be used by the RAF, was involved in a serious crash in 1991. While the pilot survived with minor burns and a broken ankle the plane was almost a right-off. It was rebuilt between 1994 and 1998 rejoining the BBMF after 7 years. LF363 underwent a ‘major’ servicing in the BBMF hangar during the winter of 2013/14, during which it was stripped of its fabric and taken back to its ‘bare bones’. Last year, LF363 was painted to represent Hurricane Mk 1 P3395 ‘JX-B’, the personal aircraft of Sergeant Pilot Arthur ‘Darkie’ Clowes DFM, of No 1 Squadron, during the Battle of Britain. Clowes’ Hurricane had a fearsome looking wasp painted on both sides of the nose.