Kingston Aviation
George Cottrell
Transcript: 4
Working on Hawker Hurricanes during the war

In 1936, the Hawker Aircraft Board took the decision to put the Hurricane – designed by Sydney Camm – into production before the arrival of a government contract and so at the company’s own risk. This decision allowed more aircraft to be built in time for the Battle of Britain and was arguably critical in the successful outcome of that conflict. George worked throughout the war inspecting Hurricane airframes and talks here of his time working on this celebrated aircraft.

There was a decision taken by Hawker Aircraft to put the Hurricane into production at the company’s own risk and arguably that was a crucial decision in the outcome of the Battle of Britain.

It was, yes.

And do you know anything else about that at all, do you know …

No I don’t, except that I know we had a new aircraft coming through and what we had to do, we had drawings to look at, inspect it all you know. I didn’t know a lot of the details of it until after the war. I didn’t know we hadn’t got a production order for it but it was a good decision on Mr Camm’s side to say, well, that we should start building these and the Directors agreed with him and so they did.

So we was well in the swing when we suddenly got the order for the Mark One Hurricane – and as I say by then we were well away with it. I stayed on that oh, all through the war until – through the Typhoon. Although the Typhoon was a different structure to the Hurricane – ’cause the Hurricane was done very similar to the old bi-plane stuff. You had a steel tubular frame with a wooden outside then fabric on top – that’s how the first ones were done. How they were all done. And as I say the Typhoon of course was a monocoque construction which is like the Spitfire was. That’s why they were all superior to the Hurricane – and the Hurricane eventually got put back to ground attack and stuff you know. I mean we had plenty of Hurricanes there.

Somehow when you are that age and you are working in that sort of thing, the war doesn’t seem to be – of course you had all the terrible bombing at night and all that sort of thing – but apart from that, when you are working, you work all day and nothing happens you are just doing a job.

The Hurricane essentially was the aircraft which won the Battle of Britain. I mean it’s true it was an inferior plane but it was the right plane for…

For that time yes…

 For that time.  And because Hawker Aircraft could push these things out in number – because they couldn’t build the Spitfires at the same speed – so it was enormously significant. And did the, kind of, significance of the work that you were doing did that, sort of, come across to you.

No. It was a job. Was a job. You were doing it, you were shown how it was to be done and you did it – and that’s how you carried on. As I say, the fact that we were, you know, building Hurricanes. How many Hurricanes a day we were turning out.  Just didn’t apply to you.