Vintage Wings of Canada: Biplane Hurricane

There was a time before computer modelling when all sorts of concepts were given an aerodynamic chance at life. It was a time of great experimentation and excitement. The aviation world was full of some pretty strange one-off aircraft the were either outright failures or before or after their time. In the case of the biplane Hurricane, the builders first designed and constructed a proof-of-concept airplane – a tiny aircraft that could begin its flight as a biplane and end it as a monoplane.

By Dave O’Malley

If you do any amount of research or web-surfing on the internet about Second World War aviation or any type of aviation for that matter, you will chance upon some fascinating facts and some fairly obscure images from time to time. If you are like me, you have a folder in your electronic files into which you dump these facts and images, with the hope of someday following them through to a story befitting their obscurity and unique qualities. I call my folder Random Beauty, and it is full of some pretty strange aviation material, from which many stories are nurtured and eventually harvested.

Many years ago, I came upon an image of a Hawker Hurricane, photographed from below as it banks gently away to the left. What made this image so compelling for me was the fact this was no ordinary Hurricane–it had a second and identical wing! It was a Hurricane Biplane! I was aware of all the fabulous Hawker Biplanes which led up to the development of the monoplane Hurricane itself–Nimrod, Audax, Hind, Fury, Hart etc.– but I was never aware of this two-winged Hurricane. Over the past three years, I have dumped additional images into my Random Beauty folder and looked to someday putting together a story about it and its development. That day has come.

By the beginning of the Second World War, in late 1939, the writing was on the wall for the biplane combat aircraft–both fighters and bombers. Though many biplanes were still in use on both sides, manufacturing was steadily drawing down as designers and governments turned their creative talents and procurement budgets to the monoplane. The reasons why biplanes existed at all were simple. First, materials strengths in the first 30 years of flight did not allow for highly maneuverable monoplanes. Secondly, these early materials strengths led to a box-structure for wings to lift the heavy, underpowered engines of the day. The advent of better steel and aluminum structures spelled the end of the need for these lightweight box structures.

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Source / Author: Vintage Wings of Canada

Photo: Vintage Wings of Canada