1941 Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA

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Lot 319
1941 Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA

Sold for £ 8,050 (US$ 9,874) inc. premium
1941 Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA
Airframe no. BW 853/R30019


  • The Hurricane was designed to Air Ministry Specification F36/34, the prototype making its first flight on 6th November 1935. Manufacture commenced in 1936 and the first production Hurricane flew in October 1937, with the model becoming this country’s saviour in the Battle of Britain in 1940.
    Although it was no longer in production when WW2 ended, the Hurricane was still in service as a frontline aircraft. It served on a total of 17 battlefronts: as a fighter-bomber; an ‘RP’ (rocket projectile, ground attack) fighter; a ‘tank buster’; a catapult-launched fighter; and a carrier fighter. In 1944-45, equipped with rocket projectiles, the Hurricane was used with great effect against enemy shipping in the Adriatic, while in Burma it served with distinction as a fighter-bomber. The Sea Hurricane went into operation in the Mediterranean in June 1942, distinguishing itself in the defence of Malta convoys.
    During 1938, the British and Canadian governments reached an agreement to begin licensed production of the Hawker Hurricane fighter in Canada. The Canadian prototype made its first flight on 10th January 1940 and a further 1,450 examples ensued; all of them built by the Montreal based Canadian Car & Foundry Ltd. Most of the first batch of Canadian Hurricanes was shipped to the UK between March and November 1940, arriving in time to take part in the Battle of Britain. Rolls-Royce Merlin III or XX engines powered the early examples, while the later Mk XXIIA was fitted with Packard-built Merlins.
    The aircraft offered here, Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA ‘BW 853’, was part of Canadian Car & Foundry’s fourth production batch, comprising 79 aircraft. They were built in 1941 and the majority was shipped to Russia, although the Royal Canadian Air Force retained a few for training pilots, of which this aircraft was one. It is also one of only four acknowledged Sea Hurricanes surviving worldwide.
    The first record for ‘BW 853’ shows that RCAF Eastern Air Command took charge of the aircraft on 17th December 1941 when it was assigned to 118(F) Fighter Squadron at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, which looked after various Hurricanes and Sea Hurricanes, both Canadian and UK built. The squadron C/O was S/L Molson, a member of the famous Molson brewing family who was also a Senator and wrote about his experiences to the vendors. He was a veteran who had served in the Battle of Britain with the RCAF Montreal auxiliary squadron and, interestingly, crashed during the Battle of Britain just three miles away from where ‘BW 853’ has resided for the past 19 years. There is the correspondence on file from him relating to ‘BW 853’.
    In the spring of 1942, ‘BW 853’ was moved to 127 Fighter Squadron and was on Command Strength at this time. Records show that on 24th July 1942 at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Sgt J W Brant, on his first solo flight in a Hurricane, undershot the runway by 100’ in conditions of poor visibility. The undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft slid along the runway on its belly. ‘BW 853’ returned to the factory for repair and was converted to a MkXIIA specification at the same time, while Sgt Brant was sent back for more dual time on Harvards.
    The Hurricane later received minor damage while with No. 1 Operational Training Unit at Bagotville, Quebec, when RAF P/O Bailey hit a tree while on a low flying exercise. He was uninjured and the aircraft was repaired on unit. This occurred on 14th June 1944. On the 1st August 1944, Sgt Brown was forced to make an emergency landing in a field two miles south of St. Gedion, one mile east of range, while on an ‘Air to Sleeve’ exercise, landing with wheels up after apparent engine failure at 18.30 hours.
    The aircraft was designated as having been damaged sufficiently to require returning to the repair depot. Sgt Brown was uninjured. On 11th August the aircraft was allocated for repairs at No. 9 Depot. However, it was decided to close the OTU and wind down further pilot training, almost a year before the end of the war. So the repair card was altered to ‘write off’, as it was no longer necessary to maintain the level of Hurricanes previously needed.
    Further research appears to confirm squadron service before ‘BW 853’ was used for training purposes, probably at Bagotville, protecting the nearby Alcan aluminium smelter and the Saguenay Hydroelectric works. There is still some further information coming to light and a set of files showing all history and correspondence will accompany the aircraft.
    ‘BW 853’ last flew on 1st August 1944. The training unit’s last course finished on 6th October 1944 and the Hurricanes were all ferried away for storage. Aircraft with even minor damage were all ‘written off’, as there was no reason to repair them. ‘BW 853’ was struck off strength on 12th October 1944, as were three other Hurricanes. ‘BW 862’ and ‘RCAF 5666’ remained in Canada; the first is now in storage at the Canadian Museum of Flight and Transport, awaiting restoration, The second is in British Columbia while the third (‘BW 881’, now restored and flying) stayed with ‘BW 853’ and arrived in England around the summer of 1989.
    Almost immediately after its arrival, the Hurricane was purchased jointly by the vendor and a friend. The pair had shared several exotic cars together over the years, and felt this was not only an extremely rare opportunity, but also an exceptionally rewarding and exciting project to get involved with. ‘BW 853’ was purchased directly from AJD Engineering, a firm dedicated to the ‘proper’ restoration of Hurricanes. Proprietor, Tony Ditheridge later formed Hawker Restorations in partnership with Sir Tim Wallis. Several projects have since been completed, and the firm holds stocks for - and will exclusively make available for this particular project - all of the necessary items required to complete such a restoration. It is interesting to note there are just 11 Hurricanes flying worldwide, seven of which have been completed by Hawker Restorations, plus a further two examples currently in build. This compares to 55 Spitfires currently flying, with an additional 50 Spitfires currently under restoration to fully airworthy condition
    Subsequent changes in the vendors’ personal circumstances prevented any progress with the Hurricane’s restoration, and they have decided it is time to let someone else take on this most deserving project. A few years ago, ‘BW 853’ was reunited with the last pilot who flew it, and this was featured in the press at the time. He is still alive today and has a very keen interest in his ‘old aircraft’ and its future, and has retained all his original flight logs relating to it, together with some fabulous pictures of the line up of Hurricanes - including this one – when he flew them back in Canada in 1944.
    A restored Hurricane must be proved to be 100% genuine to be CAA registered and ‘BW 853’ is already recognised and registered as ‘G-BRKE’, this having been done some 19 years ago. It is known throughout the world and appears on all surviving Hurricane listings with both serial numbers and its UK registration number. Most importantly: it also retains the original date plate - another item essential for qualification as a totally ‘genuine’ Hurricane. With a completed value in excess of £2m – still remarkable value when compared to the top-end values within the collectors’ car market - this represents a fantastic opportunity to take on such a unique and historic project.
1941 Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA
1941 Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA
1941 Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA
1941 Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA
1941 Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA
1941 Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA
1941 Hawker Sea Hurricane XIIA
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