Above: An RCAF fighter pilot pauses for a photo on April 30, 1943, in the cockpit of his Hurricane aircraft on the east coast of Canada. (DND Archives, PL-16163)
It was five years ago that Greg Davis began restoring a British Second World War-era fighter aircraft known as the Hawker Hurricane. Although not as well known, perhaps, as the venerable Spitfire, the fact remains that the Hurricane brought down more German aircraft during the Second World War than all other allied aircraft combined. The Hurricane also saw action in all major theatres of the war.
Davis started with a pile of boxes that had been collecting dust on the floor of a City of Calgary storage area since 1963. The city had become owners of the aircraft when a local organization, which had purchased it for eventual restoration and display in the city’s aviation museum, was unable to complete the project.
When an overseas collector offered to buy it and a de Havilland Mosquito for a million dollars 10 years ago, the Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Society (CMAS) petitioned to stop the sale of the planes. After a years-long effort, a deal was worked out with the city that had Calgary and the CMAS splitting the estimated $1.4 million restoration cost. “Anything it takes so that this airplane doesn’t leave Canada,” said CMAS president Richard de Boer, whose organization raised their half in two years.
The aircraft Davis is rebuilding in a hangar in Wetaskiwin, Alta., is one of the 1,400 Hurricanes made in Canada by Canadian Car and Foundry under the direction of aeronautical engineer Elsie MacGill. It was based on Canada’s West Coast during the Second World War. In all, around 14,500 Hurricanes were built, with the first one entering service in the U.K. on December 25, 1937.
Only 62 Hurricanes are left in the world, and just 17 of them remain in flying condition. CMAS’s project is not intended to join the ranks of the flying, however. The aircraft will be restored to a point that will allow it to taxi only.