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Hurricane-P2617 side

P2617 on display

P2617 is a Hawker Hurricane Mk 1

AppearancesEdit

  • Angels One Five.
  • Reach For the Sky.
  • Battle of Britain.

HistoryEdit

World War TwoEdit

Ordered from Hawker Aircraft Co Ltd as part of a batch of 500 aircraft by the Air Ministry, under contract No.962371/38/C.23a in 1938, P2617 was built by Gloster Aircraft Co Ltd at Brockworth near Gloucester as part of batch P2614-P2653 during 1939/1940, and fitted with a 3 blade propeller and 1,280hp Merlin III No.119697, before being test flown at Glosters.[N 1]

Taken on Air Ministry Charge on 19 January 1940, P2617 was sent to No.20 MU Aston Down (Storage Unit), before being passed to No.6 MU Brize Norton (Storage Unit) on 24 February.

On 14 April 1940, P2617 was allotted to No.615 (County of Surrey) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force, then based in France at Vitry-en-Artois, but temporarily at Abbeville, equipped with Gladiators.[N 2]

The following day P2617 was allotted to No.607 (County of Durham) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force at Abbeville, France, equipped with Gladiator aircraft, but in the process of re-equipping with Hurricanes. This almost immediate reallocation from No.615 Squadron may perhaps be explained by a possible pooling of aircraft between squadrons. Both were part of the air component of the British Expeditionary Force.

No.607 Squadron returned to Vitry-en-Artois (NW of Arras) on 26 April, the day before No 615 Squadron and `A' Flight of No.607 Sqn moved south-west to Abbeville to re-equip with Hurricanes (from Gladiators). [1] (`B' Flight moved to Abbeville for a similar conversion 9 May 1940). [N 3]

Following the opening of German Blitzkrieg on France on 10 May, No.607 Squadron was immediately in action against scattered formations of unescorted enemy bombers over the Belgian frontier. No.607 Sqn moved to Norrent Fontes (between Lille and Le Touquet) on 19 May, and operated throughout the day from that base, as some 20 German divisions exploited a gap that effectively split the Allied armies in two. The next day, as the Germans continued to advance towards Amiens and Arras, the Squadron was ordered to abandon all Hut equipment etc. and move a short distance NW to Boulougne. P2617 flew at least two sorties this day: Plt Off Humphreys Patrol 06.00 - 07.00. Plt Off Bromley Patrol 10.40 - 11.40.[N 4]

On 29 May, P2617 was damaged and transferred to Rollasons, Croydon (M Goodman) as Cat B (Beyond Repair on site). The repairs were presumably effected quickly, as P2617 was flown at Croydon by Fg Off Irving for a 15 minute afternoon flight on 30 May. After being flight tested by Sqn Ldr B A Hitchings [2] during 9 & 10 June, P2617 was recorded in Log Book as having being flown on an operational sortie by Flt Lt James Michael Bazin from RAF Tangmere, West Sussex.[N 5] P2617 was then allotted to No.1 (Canadian) Squadron [N 6] at Prestwick on 26 October, and flew patrols over Clyde Approaches.

At 15.45 Hours (Dusk) on 20 November, P2617 was flown on a patrol sortie, during which oil pressure failure forced the pilot, Fg Off Watson, to make a wheels-up forced landing in a field near Saltcoats, Stevenston, Ayrshire having flown from the squadron base at Castletown. The wheels up landing resulted in P2617 being sent to Gloster Aeroplane Co for overhaul and repair the next day.

on 29 March 1941 P2617 was sent to No.15 MU Wroughton, before being passed on 4 May to No.5 MU Kemble. Transferred to No.9 Service Flying Training School, RAF Hullavington on 31 July, P2817 was damaged in a landing accident at Babdown relief landing ground on 5 August, and placed on No.43 Group disposal account. [N 7]

Following repairs, P2617 was flown twice on formation flying exercises by Flt Lt N R G Baker on 27 August, and at No.9 SFTS (Service Flying Training School) on 3 September by J Fryer, who made two further flights in P2617 the following day.[5].

Used on 15 September by Sgt S S Joseph, to make his first solo Hurricane flight,[5] P2617 was damaged when it force landed in a field at 19.45 hours on 24 September, hitting obstruction of wooden stakes. The pilot was judged to be at fault in showing poor judgement in proceeding with the flight under adverse weather conditions. The incident occurred at a location one mile south of Ruddington on the Notts-Loughborough road. [4]

Repaired in works by de Havillands' on 1 October, P2617 returned to No.9 SFTS (Service Flying Training School) Hullavington on 6 December. Classified on 31 December as RAAC (Repaired aircraft awaiting collection), P2617 was assigned on 10 January 1942 to No.8 Service Flying Training School at Montrose, before being passed on 9 March to No.9 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit Hullavington, this unit having been redesignated from No.9 SFTS on 14 February.

Involved in a Flying Accident - Cat AC (Repair beyond unit capacity) - on 9 May, P2617 was repaired on site by a party from Hawker Aircraft Ltd on 14 May, before being returned to service with No.9 (P)AFU on 23 May. Passed to No.22 MU Silloth (Storage Unit) on 21 August 1943, P2617 was one of several Battle of Britain vintage aircraft selected for preservation by the Air Historical Branch on 3 April 1944,[6] as was reported as ready for transfer by road to No. 82 MU Lichfield on 14 May.

Transferred on 06 August to No.52 MU RAF Cardiff (Pengam Moors-Packing Depot), by December P2617 was in a single case to No.76 MU `For Museum Purposes'. (Packing Depot at RAF Wroughton, Wilts.[N 8]

Post WarEdit

Recorded at No. 47 MU RAF Sealand on 1 February 1946, by May 1947 P2617 was possibly one of the seven aircraft transferred to AHB museum aircraft store at RAF Stanmore Park from Sealand, before apparently later being stored at RAF Stanmore Park to c.1956 and the AHB store at Fulbeck.

During July 1951, P2617 was used in the Battle of Britain period film `Angels One Five', starring Jack Hawkins and John Gregson, alongside five borrowed Portuguese Air Force Hurricanes, LF363 from the RAF and PZ865/G-AMAU from Hawkers. Filmed at RAF Kenley, Surrey (doubling as the fictional ‘RAF Neethley) and released in 1952. Taxied in a couple of scenes and may have actually flown (though this is unsubstantiated)-coded in No.56 Squadron markings as US-B/’P2619 or US-P’.(Photos-After the Battle 30 and The Battle of France Then and Now (Cornwell 2008) p.344, plus Aeroplane May 2012 p.110 and photo in Combat Codes Flintham/Thomas 2003 Appendix F) or, less likely, possibly used in static studio ‘crash’ shots at Elstree. Six airworthy Hurricanes used, also Science Museum Hurricane L1592 for static shots.

On 12 August `1955, Hurricane `R2617' (Probably actually P2617) was noted entering Croydon Airport on a sixty-foot trailer. Complete but lacking propeller, and wearing Grey-Green camouflage, the aircraft was possibly en-route for filming (see below)[7]

During August and September 1955, P2617 was loaned by the RAF for the making of `Reach for the Sky', the story of Douglas Bader, starring Kenneth More. Re-serialled T4107/SD-P, SD-W and SD-X. Used for static shots only, it was filmed, again, at Kenley. The RAF also loaned a static Mk.I, L1592 again, and airworthy Mk.II LF363.

During September 1955, the aircraft was displayed on Horseguards Parade London, coded `14' with traces of the `Angels One Five' codes `US' under the paint, as it had been delivered direct from Kenley.[8]

Placed in storage alongside many other Air Historical Branch airframes, at No.15 MU Wroughton during July 1957, P2617 was photographed standing outside a hangar in good condition, but minus outer wings, with Code `14' on fuselage, at RAF Rufforth, Yorkshire at some point during 1958,[9] before being sent to 71 MU at Bicester, to be overhauled for display purposes with the exhibition flight, as the only Mk.I Hurricane owned by the RAF.

The aircraft was displayed on Horseguards Parade for Battle of Britain week during September 1959, and at Palace Green, Durham, with AF-T codes, on the occasion of presentation and laying up of 607 County of Durham Squadron standard in Durham Cathedral on 22 May 1960.[10]

On 18 September 1960, P2617 was again displayed on Horseguards Parade, coded AF-T. By May 1967, P2617 was at RAF Henlow for restoration to taxi-able condition, for use in `Battle of Britain' Film, which was completed on 8 February 1968.[11] Used in filming of `Battle of Britain' Film during early 1968, carrying false serials H3426, H3427 and codes MI-C and MI-S, the aircraft was apparently off set by April 1968,[12] as it was displayed at RAF 50th Anniversary Royal Review, Abingdon, on 14 June 1968, re-coded as 607 Squadron AF-T. (It had worn these codes originally at least since 1961.) [13]

Displayed on Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall as part of RAF 50th Battle of Britain Week celebrations on 15 September 1968, it was displayed at Wavertree Liverpool during 1970, together with Spitfire I K9942, another BoB film veteran, also now at Hendon. Both aircraft were back on charge with 71 MU Bicester Exhibition Flight at this time. P2617 was also displayed at Town Moor, Newcastle upon Tyne that year, for an RAF Battle of Britain display.

In May 1972, the aircraft was moved to RAFM Hendon from Bicester, and displayed in Camm Hall area. Formally allotted to RAFM by MOD, it was initially displayed uncoded, with silver undersides, to represent an early production aircraft, since at that time its Battle of France involvement had not been conclusively proven.

Allotted RAF Instructional serial 8373M on 5 September 1973, the aircraft was transferred to BoB Hall `E Pens' in 1978, where it has remained on display ever since, in the colours of No.607 Squadron that it currently wears, as AF-F. On 3 August 1998, P2617 was one of a large group of aircraft donated to the RAFM by the MoD, receiving Museum Accession Number 72/A/1404.

NotesEdit

  1. Now carries Merlin 33739.
  2. The records show P2617 was also allotted to No.1 Repair and Salvage Unit on the same day as No.615 Squadron allocation.
  3. However, Sydney Ashurst, 607 Squadron historian, mentions that AF-F codes were carried by P2574, and P2617 possibly only acquired these codes after its visit to Rollasons for repair the following month.
  4. Recorded in `A' Flight authorisation book, DoRIS Ref.B211). This was the squadrons' last day in France. Since 10 May they had claimed 72 enemy aircraft confirmed and 56 damaged. ‘Twelve Days in May’ (Grub St) p.294 mentions P2617 being flown back to Croydon on this day.
  5. His only flight in P2617.[3].
  6. Later No.401 Squadron
  7. The undercarriage collapsed on landing, which was judged to be a structural failure, probably due to previous heavy landings, with no blame on the pilot. A/C fitted at this time with Merlin III 144414. [4]
  8. 52 MU having had to use its museum aircraft Bellman hangar for wood storage from December 1944, though initially allocated to No. 222 MU.

SourcesEdit

  1. Letter from Wg Cdr J R Kayll (File, 28/1/76) confirms that P2617 flew with `A' Flight as AF-F.
  2. File Letter 16 Nov 1972
  3. Log Books at Tangmere Aviation Museum-see Flypast Aug 1988, P.30 and February 2000 p.99
  4. 4.0 4.1 Accident Card in DoRIS, roll MFC 77/16/25.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Data via M Goodman
  6. PRO File AIR 2/10,184
  7. Letter from J J Masterton, Air Pictorial October 1955.
  8. letter from D Shepherd, Air Pictorial Jan 56. Photograph featured in Control Column Feb 1971.
  9. Air Pictorial, Feb 1959
  10. Twenty-One Squadrons; AAHS Journal Spring 1961 p.33
  11. Air Pictorial Sep 69 p.32
  12. See Control Column 1967
  13. Scale Models Dec 73 p.831, Flypast August 2003 p.63 & Flypast Battle of Britain 70th Anniversary p.103.

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