Hawker Hurricane Mk.I R4118
The Battle of Britain Hurricane
Operator: Aircraft Restoration Company
Year of Manufacture: 1940
Powered by: Rolls Royce Merlin
Colour Scheme: Royal Air Force, 605 Squadron
Delivered new to 605 Squadron on the 17th August 1940, R4118 was thrown into the heat of battle against the Luftwaffe from her base in Croydon. In the hands of Bunny Currant, Archie Milne and Bob Foster, she flew 49 sorties, shooting down or damaging five enemy aircraft before she herself was battle-damaged and moved from the front line for repair.
After extensive work to fix the damage inflicted by the Luftwaffe, she was taken on charge by 111 Squadron at Dyce in January 1941 where she flew on patrol over the North Sea and was again in combat. But with newer types of enemy aircraft entering service by this stage of the war, the Mk1 Hurricane – work horse of the Battle of Britain – was becoming increasing obsolete in front-line service, and R4118 found a second career as a training aircraft in 59 and 56 Operational Training Units.
By December 1943, with the threat of a Japanese invasion of India looming large, R4118 was crated in Cardiff and shipped to India as a training aircraft. However, she was never needed and remained in her packing case in Bombay until 1947 when she was struck off charge and donated to Banaras Hindu University for engineering instruction.
There she stayed, largely forgotten by the world and slowly decaying in the corner of a courtyard, until retired businessman and restoration enthusiast Peter Vacher discovered her in 1996 and determined to bring her back to Britain for restoration to flying condition.
Since her debut airshow season in 2005, R4118 has been acquired by Hurricane Heritage, and remains a regular attraction at displays across the country. Whilst her more famous counterpart – the Spitfire – holds a more prominent place in the minds of the public, R4118 and her Hurricane Heritage stable mate Hurricane P3717, serve as a poignant reminder of the nerve, bravery and skill of the young men who flew them and that the Hurricane force destroyed more than twice as many enemy aircraft during The Battle as all of our other defences combined.
Images: John Dibbs.