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Hawker Hurricane IIIA 'Furacão' - SU Flight, Aeronáutica Militar, 1944

The Hawker Hurricane entered service with the Royal Air Force at the end of 1937 when No.111 Squadron re-equipped with the type at RAF Northolt. By late 1938 the production capacity for Hurricanes at the Hawker Siddeley Aircraft group of companies was sufficient not only to meet the needs of the RAF's ambitious expansion scheme but also sufficient to allow exports to Yugoslavia, South Africa, Romania, Persia, Belgium, Poland and Turkey. Belgium and Yugoslavia had both negotiated production licences but only a handful were produced by Avions Fairey in Belgium before the German invasion in May 1940 and in Yugoslavia the Zmaj factory managed to build 20 Hurricanes before the German invasion in April 1941.

At the start of World War 2, Portugal was keen to both maintain it's neutrality and also bolster it's defences - recognising that the Portuguese mainland was of strategic importance as was it's island territories of Maderia and the Azores. Indeed, both the UK and Germany considered invading the islands but British diplomacy won the day in June 1940 when the UK formally asked for use of the Azores by invoking the Aliança Luso-Britânica (Anglo-Portuguese Alliance) of 1386 which is still the oldest alliance in the history in the world that is still in force. In return, Portugal asked for a wide variety of defence equipment from the UK including "100 modern monoplane fighter aircraft". With the UK facing a desperate struggle the Portuguese 'wish list' was largely unfulfilled until much later in the war but in December 1940 the British government agreed to supply 100 Hurricane fighters by the end of the following year. 

However, there was an urgent demand for Rolls-Royce Merlin engines for the RAF's day fighters and also for the Boulton & Paul Defiant and Bristol Beaufighter night fighters. In addition, RAF Bomber Command were about to go on the offensive with the Handley-Page Halifax having just entered service and the superlative Avro Lancaster and de Havilland Mosquito were both on the horizon. In February 1941 the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, blocked the sale outright but Sydney Camm at Hawker considered that the Hurricane airframe could be adapted to take a different engine and Camm was already aware that Roy Fedden of the Bristol Engine Company had developed a modular engine installation or 'power egg' for the Bristol Hercules radial engine. Fedden and Camm quickly schemed the Hercules powered Hurricane Mk.III and instructed the Gloster Aircraft Company, who had been manufacturing Hurricanes for the RAF on behalf of its parent company since 1939, to slot in 250 Hurricane Mk.III's onto the Hucclecote production line. Whilst there was no Hurricane Mk.III prototype as such, the first two production aircraft were thoroughly tested by Gloster's chief test pilot Gerry Sayer and also by Bill Humble of Hawker's and both praised it's flying characteristics noting that "the aircraft is simple and easy to fly and has no apparent vices" although the stalling speed was 8 knots higher than a standard Hurricane.

The first 100 Hurricane Mk.III's were crated and shipped to Portugal arriving at Santo Amaro in November 1941. After local assembly, they were flown to Ota Air Base and Sintra Air Base to eventually equip six day fighter squadrons of the Aeronáutica Militar (Army Aviation) although, at the time, these squadrons (typically, with 15 aircraft on strength) were confusingly classed as 'flights' with two-digit flight codes that were used to designate the squadron. 'SU' Flight were the first to be declared operational at Ota in April 1942 followed by 'MP' flight at Sintra. In Aeronáutica Militar service the Hurricane aircraft were locally known as the Furacão and remained in service even after the formation of the Força Aérea Portuguesa in 1952 and it was not until August 1954 that the Furacão finally passed from service.








Raven's Hurricane anthology, including templates, can be found in SF1 downloads section.


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