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The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seatfighter aircraft of the 1930s–1940s that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Although overshadowed by the Supermarine Spitfire, the aircraft became renowned during theBattle of Britain, accounting for 60 percent of the RAF air victories in the battle and served in all the major theatres of the Second World War.
The Hurricane originated from discussions during the early 1930s between RAF officials and British aircraft designer Sir Sydney Camm on the topic of a proposed monoplane derivative of the Hawker Fury biplane. Despite an institutional preference for biplanes at the time and repeated lack of interest by the Air Ministry, Hawker chose to continue refining their monoplane proposal, which resulted in the incorporation of several innovations that would become critical to wartime fighter aircraft, such as a retractable undercarriage and the newly developed Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. In late 1934, the Air Ministry placed an order for Hawker's "Interceptor Monoplane". On 6 November 1935, the prototype Hurricane, K5083, performed its maiden flight.
In June 1936, the Hurricane was ordered into production by the Air Ministry; the type entered squadron service on 25 December 1937. The manufacture and maintenance of the aircraft was greatly eased by its use of conventional construction methods, which enabled squadrons to perform many major repairs themselves without much external support. The Hurricane was rapidly procured prior to the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, by which point, the RAF operated a total of 18 Hurricane-equipped squadrons. The aircraft quickly found itself being heavily relied upon to defend against the vast and varied German aircraft operated by Luftwaffe, including dogfighting with the capable Messerschmitt Bf 109, across multiple theatres of action. It is perhaps best known for its contribution to Britain's home defences during the Battle of Britain.
The Hurricane evolved through several versions and adaptations, resulting in a series of aircraft which acted as fighters, bomber-interceptors, fighter-bombers (also called "Hurribombers") and ground support aircraft. Further navalised versions, which were popularly known as the Sea Hurricane, received modifications which enabled their operation from ships; some of these were converted to be used as catapult-launched convoy escorts, known as "Hurricats". By the end of production in 1944, in excess of 14,583 Hurricanes had been completed (including at least 800 which had been converted to a Sea Hurricane configuration and around 1,400 that had been constructed in Canada by Canadian Car and Foundry).