The 9th of May saw the much-rumoured arrival of a new resident at The Shuttleworth Collection in the shape of Battle of Britain veteran Hawker Hurricane P3717. This bringing the strength of resident airworthy Hurricanes at the Old Warden Airfield to 3, a number which we believe is not equalled anywhere else in the world. The day also saw final confirmation that the aircraft has not been sold to an overseas buyer and that she will remain in the UK.

P3717 is privately owned and has been placed with the collection to serve as a living reminder of the sacrifice and valour of the young men who flew the type during the second World War. P3717 joins the much treasured R4118 and Hawker Sea Hurricane and will be seen flying at the upcoming Collection air show’s this season. The sight of the three Hurricanes on the Old Warden Grass is going to be something to behold!

P3717 was built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd as one of 544 Hurricanes built as part of the third production batch. P3717 was taken on charge by the Royal Air Force in June 1940 and was delivered to newly formed 253 Squadron at Kirtön-in-Lindsey on 13th July 1940. Three days later on the 16th July, a Polish Pilot Officer, W. Samolinski would report to the Squadron, He would be flying P3717, when, less than seven weeks later, the aircraft was heavily damaged in combat with Messerschmitt BF 110’s

By the end of July the Battle of Britain was in full swing and in anticipation of the inevitable requirement, 253 were brought up to operational status, moving from Kirton to Turnhouse on July 21st, then to Prestwick on August 23rd and finally into the thick of things on August 29th when the squadron arrived at RAF Kenley one of the key 11 Group sector fighter stations.

P3717 was being flown by P/O Samolinski, when on the 30th August it was one of thirteen aircraft participating in a squadron scramble at 10.50am and ordered to patrol over Maidstone ready to face any threat to its Kenley base

When no attack on Kenley materialised, 253 were vectored towards Brighton. It seems that a dogfight between elements of 253 and aircraft of Albert Kesselring’s Luftflotte 2 broke out over Redhill in Surrey. P3717, flown by Samolinski was involved in this and Samolinski claimed and was officially credited for the destruction of a BF 110 in this action.

P3717 made it back to Kenley but not before one of the enemy aircraft had damaged it to such an extent that it had to be returned to the manufacturers for significant repairs, these repairs took time and once complete P3717 was reissued to 257 Squadron to see further service.  P3717 was later returned for major works a second time and modified to MK 2 standard after which it was then sent to Russia from where it was recovered in the late 1990’s.

The restoration to flying condition has taken over 10 years to accomplish and was only completed in March of 2017.

[Image – Darren Harbar]