‘Battle of France’
Hawker Hurricane Mk I, LK-A L1630, LK-L P3374, LK-P L1628,
87 Squadron, Lille / Seclin, France, Late 1939.
On the 15th of March 1937, 87 Squadron was reformed at Tangmere and equipped with the Hawker Fury. Conversion to Hurricanes began in July 1939 and these were taken to France on the outbreak of the war where together with 85 Squadron they formed part of 60 Wing of the air component of the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) at Lille/Seclin, France 40 miles southeast of Dunkirk. From here 87 squadron were ordered to defend against the German onslaught, a task which the B.E.F. would find impossible resulting in retreat and
ultimately evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk in May 1940. Any aircraft incapable of being withdrawn to England were destroyed. Many hard lessons had been learnt in France, causing a change in RAF fighter tactics which would later be successfully employed in the Battle of Britain.
Hawker Hurricane Mk I L1630 / LK-A Plt Off W D David
Part of the original batch of 20 two-bladed Hurricane I’s delivered to No 87 Sqn at Debden between July and September 1938, this fabric-winged machine was sent to the continent (along with the rest of the squadron) just 24 hours after Britain declared war on Germany. Having survived eight months of relative inactivity in
northern France, L1630 enjoyed ten days of near-constant fighting during the Blitzkrieg before finally being abandoned by No 87 Sqn (almost certainly at Merville) during the unit’s retreat to the Channel coast. It was flown almost exclusively throughout this period by prewar pilot Dennis David, who seemed to find the reduced performance of the fighter due to its original ‘Watts prop’ of little consequence in combat. Indeed, he was credited with 7 and 2 shared destroyed (plus an eighth solitary kill in ‘two-blader’ L1870), three unconfirmed and 2 damaged whilst flying L1630 between 10 and 19 May. This machine participated in the Lille/Seclin inspection by King George VI held on 6 December 1939, although photographs taken at the time indicate that it was then devoid of the squadron standard (a serpent) on its fin. Prior to the German invasion, the
aircraft had had a crowned red lion on a yellow crest painted onto its starboard cockpit door, and as Plt Off David scored more victories, so small skulls (five in total) were added above the artwork. An enterprising No 87 Sqn rigger unhinged the door soon after L1630 was abandoned in France and brought it back to England with him for eventual presentation to the unit. Donated to the Air Historical Branch in the early 1960s following the disbandment of No 87 Sqn, the door went on display at the RAF Hendon Museum in the 1970s. In 1996 now Gp Capt Dennis David arranged for the historic relic to be exhibited on a long-term
loan basis at the Shoreham Aircraft Museum in Kent.
Hawker Hurricane Mk I P3374 / LK-L Plt Off R P Beamont
Piloted by Roland Beamont P3374 was unusual in being fitted with a newly developed three blade variable pitch propeller giving the pilot an advantage over the traditional fixed pitch wooden two blade Watts. He would go on to fight in the Battle of Britain, to lead a squadron of Typhoons, fly one of the first Tempests on D-Day and become one of Britain’s most successful test pilots of the post war jet age.
Hawker Hurricane Mk I L1628 / LK-P Sqn Ldr W E Coope
This aircraft flown by Squadron Leader W E Coope force-landed in Belgium (which was then neutral) on the 4th of November 1939. He landed along a main road but was forced to swerve hard to starboard to avoid hitting a civilian cyclist, and in doing so ripped off his right wheel. This was the first of several Hurricanes to be ‘interned’ in Belgium prior to the German invasion of the low countries during the Blitzkrieg of 1940.
Scale 1:72 Base size 23.5″ x 14.5″ (600mm x 370mm)
Limited Edition of 50 only