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Thread: Cannon armed hurricanes in the Battle of Britain.

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    Default Cannon armed hurricanes in the Battle of Britain.

    Hi all,
    Apart from the two cannon armed hurricanes with 151 squadron during the Battle of Britain, can anyone let me know if any other squadrons were equipped with a cannon armed hurricane.
    Cheers in advance
    Gerry

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    Hi Gerry
    Francis Mason "Hawker Aircraft since 1920", mentions only 1 Hurricane with cannon armament in the BoB. V7360 was flown by Flt Lt A Rabagliati for about 2 weeks with 46 Sqn. There is a photo of an early Hurricane IIc, BD867, with 3 Sqn but no date is given, and the impression from the book seems to suggest that the cannon a/c didn't come on stream until late in the BoB or even after. William Green's Famous Fighters of the Second World War has a photo of an all black Hurricane IIc, BE500, but again does not give a date although it does show the Sqn Code LK-
    regards
    Dick

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    Hi Dick,
    Many thanks for your reply, You are right.
    I recall reading somewhere that 46 Squadron had V7360 for a while before it went to 151 at North Weald. I know that V7360 had four cannons and L1750 had two cannons, both were with 151 at North Weald. I wondered if any other squadrons were involved in trials of cannon armed Hurricane in actual combat situations during the Battle of Britain.
    Many many thanks
    Gerry

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    Greetings all,

    I well remember seeing my first cannon Hurricane when I commenced work at 14 at Hawker Aircraft Ltd in Kingston upon Thames January 1941. This was in the Experimental workshop.

    Digger

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    Default Dick Smith 151

    Hi Digger,
    Thanks for your post. I know that Flt Lt. Dick Smith shot down a 109 on July 14th 1940 whilst flying in a cannon armed hurricane (L1750 - Z), he also damaged a Do17 the next day in the same aircraft.(as did Rabagliati of 46 Squadron earlier in the war - see earlier post).
    So it is evident that cannon armed hurricanes were flying and fighting prior to 1941.
    It must have been very exciting for a 14 year old boy growing up in such an environment.
    Thanks for your reply.
    Gerry




    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Arculus View Post
    Greetings all,

    I well remember seeing my first cannon Hurricane when I commenced work at 14 at Hawker Aircraft Ltd in Kingston upon Thames January 1941. This was in the Experimental workshop.

    Digger

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    Found the information below in one of the RAF Narratives on the development of the Hispano cannon, and thought it would be of general interest to Board members.

    The Hispano-Suiza 20 millimetre cannon in RAF service.

    This is a re-typed version of part of Chapter 4 of the History of aircraft guns used by the RAF in the 1939/45 war, which was produced as part of the RAF official history series, the RAF Narratives in the 1947 to late 1950s period. It should be noted that Hispano-Suiza established a subsidiary company in the United Kingdom to market and possibly manufacture this weapon as they were apparently not keen to license production of the gun by other manufacturers outside their control. This company was known as the British Manufacturing & Research Company (B.M.A.R.Co) and a factory was established at Grantham in about 1938.

    The preamble states the following:-

    “The Hispano 20-mm. gun was one of the two most important guns used by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. From 1941 onwards it was the standard armament for all RAF fighters, and was an important factor in maintaining the ascendancy of the Royal Air Force over the Luftwaffe which had been gained with the Browning gun during the summer and autumn of 1940.”

    Then followed almost 4 pages of detailed and fascinating information on how it was that the (British) Air Ministry decided that this was the gun that was really needed by the RAF in the coming war, and the problems that were had in putting this still rather cantankerous weapon into production in the United Kingdom after the obtaining of a production license, and then into service in 1940 and 1941. The narrative then continues, under the heading of “Development 1939 – 1945”.

    Early in 1939 it was decided to make a trial installation of the 20-mm. Hispano guns mounted in the wings of a Hurricane aircraft. After the declaration of war this project was put on high priority; and limited production was commenced in 1940. By the beginning of 1940 the first Mark I guns were being delivered in increasing numbers from the British Manufacturing and Research Company (B.M.A.R. Co.) factory,, and the drawings of the Mark II gun were nearing completion. By that time it had been realised that armour would ultimately be fitted to all combat aircraft and it was decided that the 20 mm. Hispano gun would be the main armament for all fighter aircraft. The B.M.A.R. Co. factory was quite inadequate to supply the guns required for equipping the whole of the fighter force s so it was decided to build a shadow factory, run by B.M.A.R. Co. at Grantham, adjoining the existing works; and a similar factory, run by Messrs., B.S.A. at Newcastle-on-Tyne. A Royal Ordnance Factory was to be built at Poole, and part of the existing Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield was to be given over to Hispano production. All these new factories, which were to manufacture the Mark II guns, were built and equipped during 1939 and 1940, production commencing in 1941.
    By the summer of 1940 the first Spitfires equipped with 20 mm. guns were completed and on squadron took part in the air fighting during the Battle of Britain. The results were very disappointing, the guns proving so unreliable that the aircraft had to be withdrawn form operations. During that period another installation, - the Beaufighter – with four 20 mm. Hispano guns, was being completed on high priority. Whereas, in the case of Spitfire aircraft, the dun was installed with its original “moteur-cannon” type of mounting, with the Beaufighter it was not possible to use the muzzle brake fitted to the original gun. To absorb the recoil it was necessary to re-design completely the front mounting unit and embody a more powerful spring.
    During the spring of 1940, an endurance trial was carried out on the first Mark II gun, and although the gun did well, a lot of trouble was experienced due to misfeeds from the magazine, and lightly struck caps caused by excessive ‘crush-up’, as previously experienced on the Mark I gun. This latter stoppage was so serious that urgent action was necessary. It was decided to decrease the length of the chamber by two millimetres, hence increasing the ‘crush-up’ by a similar amount; and also increase the protrusion of the firing pin. This proved to be a complete cure, and the modification was carried out on the Mark I gun as well as the Mark II.
    By the beginning of 1941, the Mark II gun was being produced in quantity by the B.M.A.R Co. factory, and considerable controversy centred round its introduction. By that time the Mark I gun was working fairly well in service, the main difficulties being due to the magazine, installation defects and poor maintenance. The whole idea of the design and development of the Hispano gun being taken over by the Director of Armament and Development was distasteful to B.M.A.R. Co,; and they maintained that the Mark II version of the gun was both more difficult to produce and less reliable than the Mark I.
    The trouble experienced in getting the correct rate of fire from the first batch of the Mark II guns tended to confirm B.M.A.R. Co.’s contention. In order to get an unbiased view on the relative performance of the two Marks of gun, air firing trials were arranged at the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE). Eight guns in all were used, including some of the first made at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield. The report on these trials noted the superior finish of the Enfield guns. As a result of these tests, which showed little difference in the performance of either Mark of gun, the Mark II design was reviewed by the Director of Armament Development.

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    Default Cannons

    Thank You David for such an informed response.
    It certainly was interesting to read about the developement of cannons over brownings.
    I had read that pilots were experiencing trouble with cannons jamming at the moment that they needed them most.
    It seems unfair that those given the task of testing something that was quite unreliable, failed to receive any rewards for their efforts. I know from Dick Smiths logbook that he flew cannon armed hurricanes regularly in combat in 1940 and experienced jamming several times in combat.
    Many thanks
    Gerry

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    And the problem increased in Malta during 1942 with oversized ammunition, presumably as manufacturing machines, working at full tilt, wore out and tolerances increased. This resulted in the cannon armed Spitfire Vb and Vc regularly jamming with a failure to extract the round.

    I believe that the problem was overcome in one of two ways: test fitting each shell into a chamber in the workshop prior to loading magazines (an intensive process), and switching to US supplied ammunition.

    Brian Cull and Frederick Galea's "Spitfires Over Malta" (and other references) cover this issue.
    Interests include Spitfires in Malta 1942 and 460 Sqdn 1943-44 (including Black Thursday)

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