HAWKER HURRICANE LF738
In the late 1980's, the Ministry of Defence decided to bring all the RAF's Hurricane and Spitfire gate guardians in from the cold with a view to restoring them to either flying or static condition. Hurricane LF738 was the very last of the RAF's guardian Hurricanes and one that had stood outside St George's Chapel at Biggin Hill since 1954. The records states that its war service was mainly bomber co-operation and training.
It was delivered from Hawker's factory on September 29 1942 as part of the 10th production batch of Mk II and Mk IV Hurricanes. After some time at No.22 MU, it was delivered in March 1943 to No.1682 Bomber Defence Training Flight at Enstone, Oxfordshire. This unit had previously used American Curtiss Tomahawks but were in the process of phasing them out in favour of Hurricanes. The main task of the unit was to keep air gunners current with advances in aerial gunnery. Hurricane LF738 was to keep this role for around a year before it went to No.22 OTU at Wellesbourne Mountford in 1944, where it remained until the end of the war and disbandment of the OTU. It then became an instructional airframe for display purposes.
With the end of the war, it was decided by the Air Ministry to post war related aircraft as gate guardians to many airfields. Biggin Hill, being the main sector station during the Battle of Britain period, July till October 1940, was the destination of Hurricane LF738 together with a Spitfire. They were placed outside St George's Chapel during a Drumhead Service by the then Lord Bishop of Rochester. Its purpose was to remind the populace of the struggle against tyranny and of the terrible loss of life in doing so. It remained on a plinth at Biggin Hill for 30 years in remembrance and honour of those who fell for thirty years.
Unfortunately, it fell to the ravages of time and climate and, by 1984, the aircraft had deteriorated badly. The aircraft arrived at Rochester for restoration by MAPSL. Such was its condition that the RAF agreed to release the Bentley Priory guardian Hurricane so that components from both aircraft could be used in the rebuilding programme.
The restoration took just over two and a half years and 20,000 man hours of work. Upon completion it was handed over to the RAF on June 28 1995 at a ceremony at Rochester Airport. Today it stands proud in the RAF Museum at Cosford, a reminder to all of the good work done by MAPSL.