Kingston Aviation


Ron Pullen
Transcript: 5
Harmonizing the guns of a Hurricane
Before joining the Royal Air Force, Ron’s last job for Hawker was working on the armament of the Hurricane and he here describes the process of harmonizing the guns.

After its success in the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane was re-invented as a ground attack fighter and it was decisive in many campaigns. The Hurricane was particularly effective against the tanks of Rommel’s army in North Africa – where it was known as the ‘tankbuster’

From the aerodrome staff, when I knew that I was going to go into the Air Force as a wireless operator /air gunner, I got a transfer to the armoury section because with the Hurricane now we were arming them – putting – eight Browning 303s.We put those in. But we used to get these Browning guns straight from the manufacturer and they would be covered in grease.

We would have to strip them all down, wash them all out and make them a serviceable gun. We would have to make them a left or a right-hand feed. We would then fit them into the aeroplane and then we would take them out onto the apron to a marked out position. We would jack the tail plane up in the air to get the aircraft in the flying position. And on the hanger doors there was a target marked and we used to have to harmonise the guns onto that target.

Now by the meaning of the word harmonisation – it would mean that we would put down a periscope into the barrel of the gun and adjust that gun to come onto the mark on the hanger wall. And we would do that with each gun. So that from each wing at a certain distance those bullets would harmonise with each other at a certain distance.

So this enables the pilot to actually fire to one spot. So fire is concentrated.

Yes that’s it that was the harmonisation.

And this is a particular skill? Is it?

No it’s not a skill, it’s just an adjustment. There’s no skill in harmonising you just did the adjustments until you looked down the periscope and saw that that gun was on a certain spot on the hanger wall. When everything would come at a certain distance. I don’t know what –  I am not sure what the distance was. I think it was something like two to three hundred yards something like that – I don’t know – I can’t remember.

And as the Hurricane progressed through the various stages.

Through the years we then came on to where we fitted four – I think they were Hispano Suiza, I think they were, twenty millimetre cannons. Two under each wing. They were fed – not by belts- but by a container, a canister for want of a better word.

We then – the last thing that we did with the Hurricane was to fit the forty millimetre cannons underneath the wings which became the ‘tank buster.’

So this was the cannon which was used in the North Africa campaign?

That’s it, they were forty millimetres – virtually a type of Bofort gun. And they were really something.

In the desert campaign they did a magnificent job by knocking out the German tanks, they really did. It was a great success.

And of course they also – the Hurricane also was capable of carrying two hundred and fifty pound bombs under the wings . I never had anything to do with that – that was done after my time there but I got to know that they even fitted these bombs underneath the wings. Whether they had any rockets I don’t know. Do you know whether they fitted rockets?

I believe they did.

Well that was after my time. So – yes, that was my time at Hawkers.