Hurricane PZ865 (Mk IIc)
The last Hurricane ever built (of 14,533), PZ865 rolled off the Hawker production line at Langley, Bucks, in July 1944 with the inscription ‘The Last of the Many’ on her port and starboard sides. Keen to preserve the last Hurricane ever built, Hawkers purchased the aircraft back from the Air Ministry and kept it in storage at Langley. In 1950, PZ865 was entered in the King’s Cup Air Race by HRH Princess Margaret. Flown by Group Captain Peter Townsend CVO DSO DFC* it achieved second place.
Over the next three years ‘PZ’ participated in several other air races and was modified for racing with the removal of its cannons and the installation of two ‘overload’ wing fuel tanks.
During the 1960s, ‘PZ’ was returned to its wartime camouflage scheme and made numerous display appearances, often in the hands of the famous fighter pilot and test pilot Bill Bedford OBE AFC. It also appeared in the film ‘Battle of Britain’. In March 1972, after a complete overhaul, PZ865 was flown to Coltishall and presented by Hawker Siddeley to the BBMF. For many years the aircraft appeared as ‘The Last of the Many’ but eventually the inscription was removed and put on display in the BBMF headquarters. In 1996, replica 20mm cannons, funded by the Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association, were fitted to ‘PZ’ to restore the aircraft’s appearance to that of a Mk IIC Hurricane.
In November 2010, PZ865 was sent to Duxford for major maintenance and refurbishment. From 2012 this famous Hurricane will wear a new colour scheme, faithfully replicating Hurricane Mk IIC HW840, coded ‘EG-S’, of 34 Squadron, South East Asia Command during 1944, the personal aircraft of Canadian pilot, Flight Lieutenant Jimmy Whalen DFC. Sadly, Jimmy lost his life on 18 April 1944, 5 days before his 24th birthday, during the Battle for Kohima. He had carried out 176 sorties against the enemy, 107 being over enemy territory and 23 at night. He had to his credit 3 ME-109s destroyed and 1 damaged whilst flying from England and 3 Japanese Navy Val Type 99s destroyed over Ceylon.
Header Image: Hurricane PZ865 (Richard Paver)
Image 1: Hurricane PZ865, 2013 (Grahame Wills)
Image 2: Fg Off Jimmy Whalen DFC in 1942
Image 3: Hurricane PZ865 in 1944, Pilot George Bulman