HURRICANE MK IV OPERATIONS
The Hurricane Mk IV is the least well known of Hurricane variants, but none the less important. It has a number of distinctions:
The last type of Hurricane to fly operationally with the RAF.
The only specially armoured ground attack aircraft employed by the RAF in WW2 (I think anyway!).
The most flexible version in terms of armament of the Hurricane and arguably of any other British type baring the Mosquito.
The Mk IV was initially called the Mk IIE, so its parentage is clear as a modified Mk II with a special Universal or "E" wing designed not as a fighter wing, as by this stage the Hurricane was no longer a front line combat fighter, even against the Japanese or Italians. But as a platform for a wide range of ground attack weapons. The "E" designation was also used on Spitfires for a wing that could carry variations on cannon and MG fits plus bombs underneath. The "A" wing had 8 .303 Brownings, the "B" wing 12 Brownings and the "C", 4 20 mm cannon. There were bombs (250 and 500 lb x 2), 40mm anti tank cannon (RR or Vickers S type), long range fuel tanks (44 or 90 gallon, the smaller ones being combat tanks that could be dropped, the 90 gallon ones being ferry tanks), or up to 8 60 lb Rocket Projectiles (RP’s). All had been used with success from the Mk IIb onwards, but the Mk IV differed in that it had an enhanced engine and a lot of armour protection around the engine, radiator and cockpit. Thus while externally a Mk IID with 40mm guns was superficially similar to a Mk IV, the Mk IV was far better able to operate in a high intensity flak environment than the Mk II. Other British aircraft used for ground attack, such as the Typhoon and Whirlwind, were never modified to the same extent with armour, relying solely on the additional armament plus speed and manoeuvrability for their protection. If one notes the number of Merlin powered Spitfires, Mustangs and Sabre engined Typhoons that were shot down due to ground fire in their vulnerable cooling systems you can see how important the armour was. Regrettably the Mk IV Hurricane with all the extra weight lacked speed and its manoeuvrability had also suffered, compared to the sublime Mk I of 1940. All Mk IV like the Mk IID had a pair of .303 Browning MG’s for sighting the 40 mm guns or for limited self defence. All attacks were made using the standard fighter gyro gun sight in the cockpit.
The type entered service in 1943 and continued to fly with the RAF operationally until 1947, which was a very good record for a design that started life as a monoplane Fury using early 1930’ s construction techniques of wire braced tubular steel and a lot of fabric covering.
PRODUCTION AND WAR LOAD:
It can be hard to tell Hurricanes apart as Mk IV’s were built alongside Mk II’s using serial ranges KW, KZ, KY, LB and LD. Both types continued in production until September 1944, by which time 524 had been produced. All Mk IV’s used either an RR Merlin 24 or 27, which were uprated, tropicalised Merlin XX’s. Most also seem to have had a Volks filter under the nose, even when deployed in the UK for operations over occupied Europe. The armour apart from on the radiator was internal so unless you can see the radiator it’s very hard to tell a IV from a IIa or b, unless you can be sure it only has two wing MG’s, then it must be a IId or a IV.
Typical war loads were:
2x 40 mm guns, 1 x 40mm gun and 4 RP’s, 8 RP’s, 4 RP’s and one 44 gallon drop tank, 1 500 lb bomb, and 2 RP’s. Bombs and fuel tanks could also be carried. In combat the mixed RP and drop tank loads seem to have been most common in Italy/Balkans, with single armament loads most common in Burma and operations from the UK. The mixed loads could be placed on either wing.
OPERATIONS AND EXAMPLES:
The Mk IV was used by two squadrons in Italy, seven in the UK and two in Burma.
Burma operations were mainly with RP’s against light Japanese air opposition. Aircraft were painted in standard SEAC colours of green, Ocean grey, Medium Sea Grey with toned down blue/light blue national markings and white codes. Beaufighters were also much used and had the advantage of speed and 4 20mm cannon as well as the RP’s Two tough radial engines also helped compared to the Hurricanes vulnerable liquid cooled Merlin.
Mk IV Units and examples:
UK Based for squadron work up before converting to Typhoons:
184, Sq, 186 Sq, no operations likely in Hurricanes, 438 Sq – possibly some operations over occupied Europe, 439 Sq three months only, 440 Sq, 1 month only no operations. These units covered the period from end 1943 to April 1944. These squadrons went on to great success with Typhoons. Various other flights such as No 1687 Bomber Defence Flight flew the type, EG LF58?, code 4E*B at Scampton in 1944 n standard day fighter colours and no Volks filter. Two Mk IV’s formed the basis of the Mk V such as KZ193 that flew with two S guns in day fighter colours before becoming the MK V prototype with a four blade prop, Volks filter and boosted Merlin 32. The other was NL255. Neither had any codes, but did have a Sky tail band. An RP armed MK IV was BP173 that flew in desert colours of Dark Earth, Mid Stone and Azure Blue on test in the UK.
137 and 184 Sq’s flew the Mk IV operationally from the UK into 1944 with RP’s. 184 in particular was very active against V1 targets . It flew standard MK IV’s with Volks filters in the standard fighter command day scheme of green, Ocean Grey, Medium Sea Grey, Sky fuselage band, yellow leading edges of the wings, black spinner, Sky codes and black serials. Normal national markings of B type on the upper wing, C1 on fuselage and under wing. One example KX584 , codes BR*T. Armed with 8 RP’s. 164 Sq flew them and an example may be found in Airfix’s ancient Mk IV kit (the only model of this aircraft ever issued) as KW919 code FJ*C in an identical scheme to that described for 184 Sq. This aircraft took part in night intruder operations from autumn 1943.
India and Burma:
No’s 20 and 42 Sq’s. These aircraft flew in the standard European scheme with Volks filters, but with SEAC roundels and codes. An example was HL857. Which had no codes and standard small SEAC roundels, but a medium sized fin flash, but may have been one of the camera equipped versions called the FR Mk IV that were employed for armed recce in this theatre using underwing tanks for extra range. These and other MK IV’s sometimes carried white bands on the fin as an ID marking. No serials specific to each unit have been recorded for No 20 Sq. Its duties included both 40mm S Gun anti tank work and RP attacks plus anti malaria operations in India. No 42’s aircraft included:
KW897 - AW*T, KX802 – AW*B, KZ909 – AW*Z and LB852 – AW*K. The unit was basically wrecked by a hurricane (a certain irony!) in April 1945 and flew little after that. Operations had included dive bombing and supply container drops from late 1943.
This was perhaps the Hurricane IV’s greatest showcase. Two squadrons; No’s 6 and 351 did amazing amounts of damage to German forces in Northern Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece and the Adriatic (anti shipping strikes). No 6 Sq started out as part of normal RAF operations in Italy, but became part of the Balkan airforce primarily in support of Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia. Its Hurricanes flew in the standard RAF day fighter colours as described above. An example was KZ188, which had RP’s, a Volks filter and the usual markings, C1 fuselage and under wing roundels, yellow leading edges, Sky fuselage band, Code C in Sky on the fuselage, but less commonly late war C1 roundels on the upper wings replacing the B type more commonly used. This change is more usually associated with NW Europe, where it is common on such late war types as Tempest V’s, Spitfire XIV’s and Meteor III’s. Few people associate the Hurricane with surviving this long in combat! Another example in use at the same time (April 1945) had no code, Type B wing roundels, serial was possibly LE840.
The unit started operations in Italy with the Mk IV in February 1944, after much use with Mk IId’s among other Hurricanes on ground attack work in N Africa. Having flown such famous examples of the IId as BP188 (codes JX*Z). The initial base was Fayid, then to Grottagalie for operations until July 44, the to Fogia until Aug 44, the to Canne until Mar 45, then Vis and Prkos. With detachments at various bases in Yugoslavia and Greece.
Examples of its hurricane IV’s KX178 – B, LB683 – Y, LF482 – C and KZ187 – X. Hurricane Mk IIc’s were operated along side the Mk IV’s, presumably to give some escorts for the lumbering Mk IV’s.
No 6 Sq was joined by No 351 Yugoslavia Squadron in July 1944 and the units shared bases and targets for much of the rest of the war until with the wars end it was absorbed into the newly reformed Yugoslavian airforce in June 1945. Shared bases included Canne and Prkos. An example of its Mk IV’s was LB886, which was again in standard RAF day fighter colours with the exception of special Yugoslavian communist markings of a red star imposed over a modified RAF roundel, with a lot of white and only a narrow surround of yellow. The tail bars had a wide white portion, compared to the late war narrow one of RAF aircraft with a red star in the white portion. Its code was a white O, serial remained black and the aircraft had a Volks filter and RP armament. The unit was often ably assisted by its sister unit 352 Sq flying Spitfire Mk Vc’s.
Other Hurricane IV’s included; KX800, LD 975 – also O, LF507 and LE570. Yugoslavian markings are available in Hasegawa’s Mk IIc kit in 1/72nd.
No 6 ended the Hurricane IV story in 1947, when its last aircraft were replaced by Tempest Mk VI in Cyprus. 10 years of Hurricane operations with the RAF ended, replaced by Camm's later masterpiece.
Apart from Airfix’s venerable Mk IV there is no kit of this aircraft available. The Airfix kit is not hard too find, but is not worth the effort, but the art work has yet to bettered in any Hurricane kit(see header I hope Airfix don't mind)! Otherwise a conversion is required from a Mk II kit. The best at around £9.00 are Hasegawa’s, but Revell make a decent effort of a IIb at £2.99, so baring the prop and a few detail points this is a very good basis for a conversion. The similar Sea Hurricane II is useful and Airfix’s old Mk II kit has excellent S guns, OK tanks and usable rockets. Both kits combined is the best way to make the model, depending upon how much conversion work you want to do. You get the tanks and bombs in the IIb, but the Volks filter in the Sea Hurricane. Although modern RP’s (on the Airfix wing protector plate) from an Academy Typhoon would be best if you use that kit to make a Bombphoon version. Matchbox’s 70’s Mk II has its merits, once the canopy is replaced. The Academy Mk II is not very good with many poor parts such as the tail planes and a slim profile. Key points for all models will be the two gun wing with the correct access panels and the armoured radiator. Detail sets for the Hurricane abound, but decal options for Mk IV’s are rare to non existent, but due to the standard markings used they can easily be made up from Modeldecal or similar sets.
The Hawker Hurricane, Francis K Mason, MacDonald 1962.
Hurricane in Action, Jerry Scutts, Squadron Signal 1986.
Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and Their Aircraft, John Rawlings , Macdonald 1968 and Crecy Books 1993.
Hawker Hurricane, Robert Jackson, Blandford, 1987.
Hawker Hurricane, Peter Jacobs, Crowood, 1998
Wings of Fame Volume 2.
Walk Around Hurricane, Ron MacKay, Squadron Signal, 1998.
The Hawker Hurricane, Richard A Franks, SAM Publications, 1999.
Mark Hayward 2001