Hawker Chief Designer Sydney Camm's Hurricane fighter ranks with the most important aircraft designs in military aviation history. Hurricanes proved vital to win the Battle of Britain during the summer of 1940, when the Nazi Blitzkrieg seemed unstoppable. These airplanes also performed other roles flying on nearly every front until the end of the war. The Hurricane was the first British monoplane fighter aircraft, and the first British fighter to exceed 483 kph (300 mph) in level flight. That it was designed and built at all was a major undertaking that literally flew in the face of conventional aeronautical wisdom in the mid-1930s. At that time, the biplane was omnipresent and monoplanes were considered unstable and too radical to be successful fighter aircraft. The Interceptor Monoplane was a blend of the old and new. It was a monoplane with retractable landing gear but the internal airframe structure reverted to the formula Hawker had proven on all his biplanes: tubular metal cross braced sections covered with fabric. While the prototype was under construction, another new specification was issued, causing a design change from a four-machine gun armament system to a scheme that used eight, license-built, American .303 caliber, Browning weapons. A Rolls Royce Merlin, twelve-cylinder, 990 horsepower engine driving a two-blade, fixed-pitch wooden propeller, supplied power. Despite early engine difficulties, the new aircraft proved to have excellent potential. It flew for the first time on November 6, 1935. As prototype evaluation continued, Hawker received an unprecedented contract order for 600 aircraft on June 3, 1936. This was one of the largest production orders ever placed for a single military aircraft design during peacetime. On the 27th, the name Hurricane was officially adopted. Hawker was expecting production orders so the company had already began to tool their production lines to build the airplane. They made 40 within three months and a short time later, the Royal Air Force (RAF) accepted their first Hurricane. In December 1937, ten weeks after the first flight of a production Hurricane I on October 12, 1937, the first RAF squadron to convert to the new fighter, No. 111 at Northolt, traded in their Gloster Gauntlets biplanes for the new monoplanes. Hawker never paused in flight-testing improvements to the fighter and in1939, the company began using the variable-pitch, three-bladed propeller. This technology significantly increased the Hurricane's climb performance and service ceiling. This relentless pace of production, the introduction to service, and continued flight-testing was driven initially by the threat of war posed by Nazi Germany. When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, the Hurricane joined the fight. Hurricane pilots drew first blood for the RAF during air battles fought over France. The Hurricane's most important role in World War II came a few months later during the Battle of Britain, fought between July and October 1940. On the eve of this great battle for England's survival as a free country, the British could muster only 26 Hurricane I squadrons. In addition to Hurricanes, there were 19 Supermarine Spitfire squadrons and 10 other fighter squadrons equipped with Defiants and Blenheims. Once the battle began, these latter two aircraft quickly proved utterly inferior to the Messerschmitt Bf 109. All together, RAF Fighter Command had about 720 serviceable Hurricanes, Spitfires, and other combat airplanes. Against them stood a force of about 2,000 Luftwaffe aircraft, flush with sweeping victories over every air force in Europe that had opposed them. As the Battle of Britain ended, Hawker continued to modify and improve the Hurricane. The Hawker design staff wanted to increase engine power without interrupting production, so they selected a new, more powerful version of the Merlin. The new Merlin XX engine was only slightly larger than earlier versions, yet it generated 1,280 horsepower and a maximum speed in the Hurricane of 550 kph (342 mph). This new version was called the Hurricane II. Several other versions of the Hurricane were created including Sea Hurricanes designed for convoy escort and equipped with arresting hooks. From 1936 until production ended in September 1944, Hawker, Gloster, Canadian Car and Foundry, and Fairey built 14,233 Hurricanes. One of the last Hurricanes built was purchased by the Hawker Company and named "The Last of the Many." It is maintained in flying condition to this day. The Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC bearing RAF serial number LF686. Hawker built this fighter at the Langley factory, near Slough, Buckinghamshire, just six miles from what is now called Heathrow airport, early in 1944. It was part of the last RAF Hurricane order for about 1,300 aircraft. Forces of Valor Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIC - RAF serial number LF686 features incredible detail in diecast metal and plastic construction. The solid metal wing has four detailed cannon barrels. The landing gear is a separate assembly with structural details inside the wheel wells for display on the runway. Also included is a stand for display in flight. The detailed Rolls Royce Merlin engine can be viewed under the removable top engine cowling covers.