Hawker Restorations’ Two-Seater Hurricane
by Paul Middleton
Vintage aviation enthusiasts will soon be able to take a passenger flight in a Hawker Hurricane for the first time ever after UK restoration company Hawker Restorations Limited unveiled its plans to carry out a unique, two-seat conversion.
The company, based at Elmsett Airfield in Suffolk, is a world-class restoration company, and renowned for their almost single-handed efforts to resurrect the Hurricane as a breed, having restored nine of them to flight. Now the company has bought Hurricane Mk.IIB G-HHII, from Peter Teichman’s Hangar 11 Collection in the UK. Interestingly, HRL originally rebuilt this same aircraft for Peter Teichman back in 2009.
Hawker Restorations will convert the fighter into a two-seater over the next 12 to 15 months; ground-breaking work that will first require formal certification of the engineering modifications to add the rear passenger seat. The ultimate aim would be to make it dual-control. The aircraft will then be offered for sale in time for the 2019 season.
The aircraft, which is based upon the remains of a Canadian-built, former Royal Canadian Air Force machine, serial 1374, is currently the only ‘Hurri-bomber’ flying, and features two underwing ordinance pylons. It will retain its current identity ‘BE505’, name Pegs and 174 (Mauritius) Squadron markings after the conversion, which will see minimal changes to the aircraft’s distinctive outline.
Hawker Restorations’ Andrew Wenman explained, “The conversion has to be sympathetic to the Hurricane shape; we have been quite clear about that. It should just look as if it has a longer canopy. We first had to look into the centre of gravity issues that arose from adding another seat with the extra weight of the second person. We’ve found this isn’t an issue as the fact that we are using a Mark II means that it has a larger and heavier engine and a heavier prop, so this moves the centre of gravity forwards.” Wenman added, “We now have to be sure there is room for a second seat and leg room for the passenger, and that they can get in and out under the longer canopy.”
To that end, HRL is using the centre section from another two-seater currently in progress to work out the interior space for the passenger seating area. The company originally planned to rebuild that Hurricane, based on Battle of Britain veteran Mark I L2005, as its first two-seater (as revealed in Warbird Digest in 2016). However, basing the first conversion on a current flyer rather than needing to rebuild the complete airframe will cut the timeline from three years to one.
The second machine will then follow, making use of the experience gained from the first. When ‘BE505’ carries its first passenger aloft following her completion, it will be the first such occurrence since the Second World War, when rudimentary conversions were carried out on cannibalised machines in the North African Campaign for transporting aircrew from base to base. The Russians are also known to have modified at least one Hurricane with a second seat. Hawker also built a brace of two-seaters for the Shah of Persia, though sadly none of the factory modification drawings remain.
While the first flight of this aircraft may be some time away, HRL is very close to finishing another Hurricane currently sharing space with ‘BE505’ at present. This is Hurricane Mk.I V7497/G-HRLI, under restoration for the neurosurgeon Peter Kirkpatrick. It is due to fly ‘in the spring’. On September 28th, 1940, Pilot Officer Everett Bryan Rogers was flying this 501 Squadron machine from his home field at RAF Kenley on patrol over Kent, when a flight of Luftwaffe Bf 109s shot him down. The aircraft was on only its seventh sortie since delivery the same month. Rogers successfully bailed out and the aircraft came down near East Sutton in Kent. The remains were later excavated and then stored in a barn for several decades before HRL acquired them for restoration.
When airworthy, V7497 will be based at Duxford Airfield, near Cambridge. When not flying, she will be kept on public view in the Imperial War Museum’s Battle of Britain display hangar.
Hawker Restorations is now actively looking for a buyer for the two-seater Hurricane BE505. For more information including the price contact Andrew Wenman at email@example.com
WarbirdsNews would like to offer our gratitude to Paul Middleton for his reporting and images, and to Andrew Wenman at Hawker Restorations Ltd. for taking the time to talk to us about their work on the two-seater Hurricane.