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& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


Hawker Hurricane Survivors

Gordon Riley

Grub Street, 2015

This is no more and no less than an encyclopaedia of every extant  Hurricane airframe. As such it is possibly best dipped into, rather than read from cover to cover. The Hurricane of course has received less acclaim than its later rival the Spitfire, so any book which redresses some of the balance in publicity terms , is to be welcomed.


Riley has managed to unearth much of the service history of each airframe, and so of course there are lots of abbreviated interesting stories of air combats. The corollary is there is also much less interesting prose devoted to movements of the aircraft between squadrons and maintenance units. For each aircraft the author sets out the state of restoration, and the owner’s ultimate plans.


A surprising number of airframes are in Russia, most of which are in rather garish colour schemes, that do not look correct to a British eye. Perhaps their custody there is due to large numbers sent out mid-war, and the preservative effect of the tundra.


At its end, the book begs for, and lacks, a table showing the number of airframes in each country, and their flyability. There are numerous well-reproduced illustrations. But I wonder how much original research Riley has done: his comments on  R4118 (shown below), for example, omit the fact that it had been for sale by the Vachers for well over a year (at a price I believe of £2.5m), at the time he went to press. It was eventually sold this year, probably just after publication, for something less than £2.5m.


An interesting read for Hurricane fans, but of limited interest for those with a wider outlook.


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