The First Production Hurricane
Hurricane L1547, which Otto Hanzlíček piloted on his final flight, was the first production aircraft built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd of Kingston and Brooklands to Air Ministry specification F.15/36 under contract No 527112/36. The first 430 aircraft were manufactured with fabric covered wings and the remaining 170 with metal covered wings. However, some aircraft later re-fitted with metal wings at maintenance Units within the RAF. Deliveries of aircraft for this order commenced on 15 December 1937 and were completed on 6 October 1939.
L1547 first flew on the 12th October 1937 at Hawker’s Brooklands factory. It was flown by Phillip Lucas, Flight Lieutenant P.W.S. Bulman’s assistant test pilot, and subsequently was used for flying performance and engineering trials at various establishments before entering Squadron service.
First flown on 12/10/1937
Taken on charge by Hawkers on 29/03/1938
Taken on charge by A&AEE on 23/06/1938
Taken on charge by Rolls Royce on 28/06/1938
Taken on charge by A&AEE on 21/07/1938
Taken on charge by No 15 MU on 29/05/1940
Taken on charge by No 10 MU on 10/06/1940
Taken on charge by No 312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron on 31/08/1940
Fatal accident on 10/10/1940
Struck off charge on 29/10/1940
Here is a performance report on the Hurricane from April 1936.
Up until the 1970s aircraft wreckage believed to be from this Hurricane could be seen at low tide, but has now disappeared into the ever-shifting deep mud, and it is thought that the remains are now buried under ballast of a light gantry for the airport.
A few pieces of the aircraft were recovered in the 1960s when a couple of spars were showing about 50 yards out and these are now at the War Plane Wreck Museum at Fort Perch Rock, New Brighton. The canopy was apparently found on Cartwright’s farm and went to No 7F Squadron ATC in Liverpool. However, although aware of the story, they don’t have possession of the canopy any more.
When the war ended, relatives of some of the 513 Czechoslovak airmen who died whilst serving in the RAF wanted the remains of their loved ones returned to Czechoslovakia for burial. When the practicalities of doing this were investigated Brigadier General Karel Janoušek, Head of the Czechoslovak Air Force in the UK, said it would be too expensive to exhume each body so suggested it would be better to have a symbolic exhumation instead.
A sample of soil from each of the airmens’ graves was taken and transported to Czechoslovakia to be placed into new urns before being formally interred. Graves left in the original cemeteries in the United Kingdom would have a standard type of British military headstone.
The urns from the British graves of Czechoslovak RAF airmen were moved to Prague. They were then stored in boxes whilst plans for an appropriate memorial were considered. In February 1948 the Communists took control of Czechoslovakia and those who had fought in the West for the freedom of their homeland now found themselves to be victims of persecution. Under this new regime the urns were simply forgotten.
On 15 January 1990, during the reconstruction of a National Monument at Vítkov, Prague, workmen discovered boxes which contained the 302 wooden urns. Unfortunately, due to poor storage conditions, 63 of the urns had rotted and their contents had mixed together. The mixed soil was placed in one communal urn. The contents of the remaining 239 urns were placed in new urns.
The urn with soil from Otto Hanzlíček grave was placed at the memorial at Ústí nad Labem.