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Tales of men and machine

History of Hawker Hurricane P3351

The aircraft was built as part of a series of 500 machines produced by Hawker Aircraft Ltd under contract 96273/38. This series was built at Hawker's three factories at Kingston-on-Thames, Brooklands and Langley in Southern England. P 3351 was built and flown at Brooklands.


P 3351 was flown on 28 March 1940 to 5 Maintenance Unit at Kemble where it was fitted with a radio, the guns were adjusted and loaded.


Probably on 31 May 1940 it was flown from Tangmere to Rouen, France, where it began its varied combat deployment with 73. RAF Fighter Squadron in the Battle of France with the code letter K.

Battle of France

Hurricane P 3351 flew in the Battle of France from late May 1940 to 18 June 1940. In a short period of time he completed many operational sorties, where several times he made contact and fought with German fighters and bombers. P 3351 was also deployed on patrols to protect ships transporting troops back to England as part of Operation Dynamo.

All this was taking place at a time when disaster threatened at Dunkirk and the famous Operation Dynamo began. 

Officially, Hurricane P 3351 was assigned to 73 Squadron on 1.6.1940 and flown from Rouen to Gaye by Sgt. A.E. Scott on 3.6.1940, where it received the code letter "K" which was hastily painted on both sides of the fuselage. 


P 3351 left France on 18.6.1940 piloted by P/O P.E George Carter, who flew it most during the battle. Carter took off from Nantes the last base of 73 Squadron in France along with 10 other Hurricanes and a Handley Page Harrow carrying the remaining ground personnel. After crossing the channel, the aircraft landed at Tangmere where they refuelled and continued on to their new home base at Church Fenton. 


This began the next part of P 3351's combat deployment, defending the British Isles and in the Battle of Britain.

The Battle of Britain and the East


After moving from France to Church Fenton airfield, the 73rd Squadron enjoyed a moment of rest, but they did not slack off. Equipment was being prepared for the next engagement with the German Luftwaffe.

After maintenance and weapons adjustments, P3351 was ready for the next battle. The code letters TP were added to the fuselage. The entire squadron, including P3351, was designated as part of the 13th Group for night pursuit and was declared operational on 7 July 1940.

On 12 July, P3351, assigned to the Red Section, made its first combat deployment since the Battle of France. During intensive night training on 21 July 1940, Sgt. Scott in P3351 misjudged a landing maneuver, landing short and causing the aircraft to roll onto its "nose". Scott had flown a total of 159 solo hours, 71 of which were in the Hurricane.


32nd Fighter Squadron RAF (code letters GZ)


After a refit that took about a month, P3351 was transferred to 32 Fighter Squadron RAF, operating from Biggin Hill airfield, towards the end of the Battle of Britain - 6 September 1940. The aircraft had a newly installed RR Merlin III powerplant.

The P3351 was used extensively in training, patrols over the North Sea and also as a courier machine during 32 Squadron's movements from Acklington (the squadron's new base) to Woolsington Field Airfield. During these months it was most often piloted by P/O Jack Rose, F/Sgt. Reginald Parrott and F/Lt J.E. Proctor.


71st (Eagle) RAF Fighter Squadron American Volunteers (code letters XR)


P3351 changed station again on 21 December 1940. He was assigned to the famous 71st Fighter Squadron, composed of American volunteers. The squadron's first aircraft were Brewster Buffalo fighters, all of which were soon destroyed in accidents. Hurricanes Mk.I began arriving during November 1940, and P3351 arrived with them on 21 December. The aircraft was used for patrols over the North Sea from January 1941. The damage was classified as Ac (Repair beyond unit capacity). 

P3351 returned to 71 Squadron and operational flying in about a month - at its new home airfield of Martlesham Heath.


55.OTU - Operational Training Unit


At the beginning of May the Mk.I Hurricanes were gradually replaced by the Mk.II version. P3351 left 71st Squadron and was assigned to 55th OTU, where it was piloted by pilots of many nationalities.


60th and 51st MU - Maintenance Units


The aircraft was retired from active service at the end of August 1941 for conversion to the Mk.II version of the first series, in the form of RIW (Repairs in Works). However, this was preceded by storage at 60 MU (Maintenace Unit) in Skipton Yorkshire and subsequent change of status to RAAA (Repaired and awaiting Allocation) and storage at Fulleylove Garage, Dorden, where the engine was removed from the aircraft. P3351 spent Christmas 1941 with 51st MU and on 23 January 1942 was sent to the manufacturer, Hawker, for modification and installation of a new RR Merlin XX powerplant. This is also where the aircraft ends its life as P3351 and the new DR 393 series begins its final deployment.


Goodbye England


On 9 March 1942, the aircraft is flown to the 52nd MU, the unit responsible for preparing for sea transport. After being dismantled, P3351/DR393 is sent by road to Glasgow and, as part of the Lend-Lease programme, prepared for embarkation on the cargo ship SS Ocean Voice, which was included in the ill-fated PQ 16 convoy bound for Murmansk, Soviet Union. Aboard her, P3351/DR 393 left England on 3 May 1942 and began a journey from which it would not return for 50 years.


Convoy PQ 16 to the Soviet Union

Hurricanes were not uncommon in the Red Air Force. As early as August 1941, a convoy from England brought the first Hurricane aircraft to Murmansk as part of the Lend- Lease program. The aircraft were initially completely under the control of the 151st Wing, formed from the 81st and 134th Fighter Squadrons of the RAF. 151st Fighter Wing was commanded by New Zealander W/Cdr Henry N.G. Ramsbottom-Isherwood. The mission was to teach the Soviets to fly Hurricanes, prior to combat deployment to protect convoys and the ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk.

Despite the Soviet pilots' sometimes old-fashioned approach to flying - circuits always with the cockpit open and the landing gear extended - the Hurricanes were handed over to the Soviet Air Force on 22 September. Within a short time, 16 German aircraft were shot down with the loss of a single Hurricane.

These 24 Hurricanes were only the beginning of the entire delivery of 3058 machines. Hurricanes fought at Moscow, Stalingrad, Karelia on the Voronezh front. The Soviets modified the planes by mounting bomb and rocket mountings, and the original machine guns were replaced with Soviet-made 20 mm calibre guns and 12.5 mm calibre machine guns.

P3351/DR393 sailed from England on 3 May and after a harrowing journey by convoy PQ16 landed at Murmansk on 30 May 1942.

It received red stars on the fuselage and lower wing surfaces, other markings unknown. The armament was also replaced. Four 20mm guns were installed.

The further fate of the aircraft is not exactly known due to missing records. It was operationally deployed against the Luftwaffe during the summer and autumn of 1942 and very probably made an emergency landing on the tundra during the winter of 1943. Anything of value was dismantled by Soviet mechanics and the aircraft was left to its fate for 50 long years. During refurbishment, a 7.9 mm projectile was found in the oil cooler and flew through the entire engine radiator...

Screenshot 2023-12-26 at 14.30.12.png
Map used with the kind permission of Gerard S. Morris, New Zealand
Huricane 73 sqn.png
73 sqn mechanics prepare the machine for take-off
Pilots of 73 Sqn France 1940 
71. Eagle SQN RAF .png
 71. Eagle Sqn. RAF, photo: IWM
32. Sqn Biggin Hill, photo: IWM
PQ 16 Route.png
Map used with the kind permission of Gerard S. Morris, New Zealand
Pilots of 81.sqn on skis -  Murmansk SSSR, zdroj: IWM
Hurricane of 81.sqn Z3768 Vayenga - SSSR, zdroj: IWM
Hurricane in Murmansk - SSSR, zdroj: IWM
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