“It was a delightful aeroplane – not as agile as a Spitfire, but it had a very good gun platform. It was very steady and took a tremendous amount of battle damage without appearing to worry too much.”
— R G A Barclay, Squadron leader, No. 238 Squadron RAF
Firepower – The four 20mm Hispano cannons give the Hurricane an excellent air-to-ground and air-to-air capability.
Ground Attack – With both good anti-tank cannons and a brace of eight rockets, the Hurricane IIC can do some serious hurt to ground targets.
Speed – By mid-war, the Hurricane was outclassed by the German fighters it was facing.
Looking for a way to improve both the performance and the firepower of the Hurricane, Hawker engineers started work in January 1940 on a version to be powered by the new Merlin XX engine featuring a brace of twelve Browning .303 machine guns. The first stage of this development culminated in the introduction of the Hurricane Mk.IIA, which was fitted with the new engine but retained the eight-gun armament of the Mk.IA.
The second stage resulted in the development of two different wings, each of which was stressed to carry a pair of 500 lb. bombs. The first wing was fitted with the originally intended twelve machine guns, however the second wing was designed around an armament of four 20mm Hispano cannon.
The Mk.IIC, as the cannon-armed version was known, proved to be the most useful and widely used variant of the Hurricane, with 4,711 units being produced. Additionally, most IIA and IIB machines were retrofitted with the IIC wing and were thus redesignated as IIC models. In 1943 the IICs were themselves retrofitted with four rocket rails under each wing, allowing the plane to carry eight air-to-ground 3″ rockets.