On the 2nd of October 2016 Hawker Hurricane, Serial No 5481 C/N 60372, C-FDNL, Mk XII / IIB based at the Pays Air Service at Scone, NSW flew at 10.30am for the first time in Australia. The flight lasted about 20 minutes with Ross Pay at the controls. It is the first time a Hawker Hurricane has flown in Australia since 1944! The Hurricane is now registered as VH-JFW, is finished in the color scheme of Pilot Officer John Dallas Crossman, an Australian who flew with No 32 Squadron and No 46 Squadron and was killed on the 30th of September 1940 at 13:30 hrs. He was shot down in his Hurricane I (V6748) at Forest Row, Sussex UK by a Messerschmitt Bf 109E. Crossman was buried at Chalfont St. Giles Churchyard, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, Grave 13.
Although the Hurricane is an Mk XII, it is finished (as stated above) as an Mk 1, V6748 of No 46 Squadron as flown by pilot, John Crossman. Crossman was the son of George Edward and Gladys Allyne Crossman, of New Lambton, New South Wales, Australia. The color scheme of the Hawker Hurricane was specially chosen as it honors the Battle of Britain pilot who was from the NSW Hunter Valley region of Australia close to the Scone base of the aircraft.
The Hurricane arrived in Australia on the 7th of April 2014 from Canada after a lengthy boat trip via the Panama Canal and New Zealand as outlined in our previous news article. It had been very carefully packed and shipped on a purpose built steel cradle with the fuselage and wings wrapped in padding and plastic membrane. The propeller and tail surfaces were individually boxed. At the time of its arrival the Hurricane was painted to represent P2970 as flown by Pilot Officer Geoffrey Page, circa 1940.
Following a full inspection of the aircraft, the decision was taken to send the fuselage to Matt Webber and the team at Luskintyre Aircraft Restoration, NSW. The purpose of this was to have the fuselage woodwork refurbished and new cloth added to the fuselage. This work was extensive, as all the woodwork has been replaced in the process and the rear upper cockpit framing rebuilt including new stringers on the fuselage. A new fabric “bag” was then fitted to the fuselage and then the doping of the fabric and finally the painting of the structure.
The Hurricane fuselage then returned to Pays Air Service at Scone, NSW where the myriad of tasks associated with getting the aircraft airworthy were attended to. These tasks included attending to the hydraulic and electrical systems and replacing any worn items in the airframe so as to ensure the aircraft was in pristine condition. The work progressed well at the workshop and the wings were then refitted after being checked and paint stripped. Finally in early 2016 the aircraft was ready for a complete repaint at Pay’s excellent paint shop where the camouflage and aircraft markings were applied. Warbirds Online has photographed most of the world’s flying Hawker Hurricanes and it must be said that the quality, accuracy and finish of this Hurricane is second to none. It is simply stunning and a great credit to the all of the team who worked long and hard to get her here.
The process from there was largely bureaucratic to ensure all of the appropriate inspections and reports had been carried out and filed with the appropriate authorities. Several minor mechanical issues which delayed her first flight were also overcome.
The Hurricane was due to fly on Friday 30th of September 2016, however the very high winds prevalent at the time prevented this and the flight was rescheduled for Sunday the 2nd of October 2016. Pilot Ross Pay was very impressed with the first flight of the aircraft and commented that it handled well and responded very much as pilot’s notes and other Hurricane pilot’s comments indicated – in short it’s a “typical Hurricane”. There were very few corrections required after the flight and the aircraft is expected to fly several more times as part of the bedding in process. A small crowd of local Scone residents and aircraft enthusiasts were present on the day, as it was the Hurricanes owners and Pay’s preference for the first flight to be low key.
Unveiling the Hurricane to the public
On Saturday November 12th 2016 an event is planned at Scone NSW to officially unveil the aircraft to the public, so that everyone may view this beautiful Warbird restoration. Several other historic Warbirds have been invited to participate in the event and a large crowd is expected to attend on the day. Warbirds Online will be publishing more details and information about this event shortly.
History of Hawker Hurricane Serial No 5481
Hawker Hurricane Mk XII, Serial No 5481 C/N 60372 was manufactured by Canadian Car and Foundry (CC&F) in 1942 based upon the Hawker Hurricane II version from the UK. The aircraft served with various RCAF Squadrons from July 1942 until it was struck off charge in November 1944 and disposed of by Crown Assets in Canada. At some stage in the mid-1980s the Hurricane was purchased by Canadian Warbird salvager Jack Arnold in Brantford, Ontario. The very tired Hurricane was later passed on to famous UK based collector Charles Church who initiated the restoration of the old bird and 5481 made its first post-restoration flight in September 1991 marked as P2970 “Little Willie,” the Mk.I flown by Pilot Officer Geoffrey Page of No. 56 Squadron when he was shot down in August 1940.
The Hurricane then passed on to the USA when purchased by David Price in 1991 following the tragic death of Charles Church. The aircraft arrived in the USA in 1992 and was first flown at Chino California joining the fleet of Warbirds at the Museum of Flying (MoF). With the closure of the MoF in 2002 the Hurricane was sold to Ed Russell and added to his collection in South Niagara, Ontario (ironically coming full circle back to its Canadian roots). In 2014, after advertising the aircraft for sale it came to new owners at Scone and was placed into the hands of Ross Pay at Pays Air Service at Scone NSW to undertake its refurbishment.
Our thanks go to the owner, Ross Pay and the team at Scone for inviting us to attend the historic first flight of the Hawker Hurricane.
© John Parker 2016