Aviation Historian 3
H.Morris - I built the Last of the Many
A magnificent Hawker photograph of the very last batch of Hurricanes being produced at the company’s factory at Langley in the summer of 1944. The final example of 14,533 Hurricanes built, PZ865, was named The Last of the Many and after a long and varied career is still operated today, as part of the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Hawker engineers at Langley work on Hurricane IIC PZ865 in July 1944, its newly-minted name, The Last of the Many, clearly visible on the panel beneath the cockpit.
With the centre section and undercarriage fitted, The Last of the Many moves nearer to completion. The banner erected over the Hurricane celebrates the many milestones of the type’s career since its first flight in 1935: The Battle of France; Dunkirk; the Battle of Britain; Norway; Russia; Iran; Malta; Africa; Burma; Sicily; Italy and most recently, Normandy.
The Last of the Many makes its way up Kingston High Street in a photograph taken from the Town Hall during the victory parade on June 8, 1946.
Shortly after its first flight on July 22, 1944, The Last of the Many was the centrepiece of a ceremony at Langley in which the aircraft was “christened”. A number of speakers took turns to celebrate the achievements of the type, including George Bulman and the General Manager of Rolls-Royce’s aero-engine division, Mr H.J. Swift.
Chief test pilot Gp Capt P.W.S. “George” Bulman prepares to fly PZ865 at its “christening” in August 1944.
George Bulman puts PZ865 through its paces for a dazzling sequence of aerial photographs, possibly taken on the occasion of its ceremony in August 1944. It was entirely fitting that Bulman should fly The Last of the Many at the ceremony, having been at the controls of the prototype Hurricane, K5083, for its maiden flight on November 6, 1935.
Following the speeches at the ceremony PZ865 was prepared for a short flying display in the hands of Bulman. The celebrations continued with displays by several other Hawker types retained by the company, including Tempest V EJ592 (flown by Bill Humble) and Hart II G-ABMR, now on display at RAF Museum Hendon.