Aviation Historian 5
N.Stroud - The Last of the Many
An extremely rare Dufaycolor transparency of G-AMAU at White Waltham on May 14, 1950, taken from beside the tail of Hawker's similarly-painted civil-registered Tomtit, G-AFTA. Unusually, this photograph was taken from the starboard side, revealing that the legend, "The Last of The Many", was painted only on the port side in the initial iteration of the Hurricane's blue-and-gold scheme.
Into uniform - in July 1951 G-AMAU was painted in camouflage for use in the Battle of Britain-themed film Angels One Five. The Hurricane made an appearance at the Daily Express 50 Years of Flying display at Hendon, where it is seen here with a spurious serial, P2619, and 56 Sqn code US-B, on July 21, 1951.
Wait for it! - Gp Capt Peter Townsend wills the handicapper’s starting flag to drop during the 19th King’s Cup Air Race, held at Wolverhampton on June 17, 1950. At 36 years old, Townsend was a highly experienced fighter pilot and no stranger to the Hawker fighter, having commanded Hurricane-equipped No 85 Sqn during the Battle of Britain.
Resplendent in its new colour scheme of dark blue with gold registration letters, cheat lines and propeller spinner, The Last of The Many caught the crowd’s eye at its first civilian outing, to the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Garden Party at White Waltham on May 14, 1950.
A regular sight at 1950s British airshows was Hawker’s fleet of Sydney Camm-designed aircraft, which comprised, from nearest to furthest, Hart G-ABMR (currently on display at RAF Museum Hendon), Tomtit G-AFTA (still airworthy with the Shuttleworth Collection), Cygnet G-EBMB (now at RAF Museum Cosford) and G-AMAU.
G-AMAU at one of the many shows it visited during the 1950s. Although the Hurricane’s civil scheme suited the type’s elegant curves, a number of commentators in the press felt that it would be more appropriate to put the machine back into its original camouflage scheme. It was a wish that would ultimately come true.
A study in blue and gold: Hurricane lie G-AMAU, The Last of The Many, above the clouds during a photographic flight after the aircraft’s civilianisation in 1950.
A formation flypast by Hawker’s Tomtit, Hart and Hurricane was a regular sight at British displays of the early 1950s, the Hawker test pilots frequently winning best-formation accolades and trophies. The speed ranges of the aircraft were quite different and a generous helping of flap was necessary to keep the Hurricane in tight formation. This flyby was captured at White Waltham on August 31, 1952.
Townsend makes a spine-cracking turn during the 1950 King’s Cup race. The Hurricane and Townsend had been entered on behalf of Princess Margaret, who had to settle for second place when Townsend was beaten to the finish line by Edward Day’s Miles Hawk.
Following the completion of Angels One Five, G-AMAU was painted in a new blue-and-gold scheme, with three gold bars extending to the rudder tip. Also, the name, The Last of The Many, was painted on the port side of the fuselage without a gold bar either side of the lettering, as there had been previously.
This photograph, taken at Hatfield on June 23, 1951, during the (ultimately cancelled) National Air Races, clearly shows G-AMAU in the revised blue scheme, and there is evidence that it may have been painted in camouflage in early June, before being painted in the new scheme for this event, then repainted in camouflage to complete filming for Angels One Five - before being put back into the “new” scheme again!
The pilot wrapped up tight against the cold, G-AMAU taxies past at RAF Stradishall in Suffolk in September 1959. At around this time the idea of putting The Last of The Many back into camouflage was mooted and approved by Hawker, making this one of the last photographs of it in its blue-and-gold scheme.
Peter Townsend taxies out in The Last of The Many, with race number “41" on the fin, at Wolverhampton, in June 1950. The Hurricane wore race number “76” for the Daily Express Challenge Trophy three months later.
One of the Hawker test pilots brings G-AMAU in close to company photographer Cyril Peckham’s camera aircraft to show off the Hurricane’s sleek lines, accentuated by its tasteful blue-and-gold colour scheme. The initial scheme incorporated a single gold cheatline extending from about quarter-chord of the wing to the aft tip of the rudder (broken only by the registration), with two angled cheat-lines (also in gold) being staggered above the main cheatline to the end of the cockpit rail.
The Last of The Many in flight after its return to camouflage in 1960. This aircraft still flies today with the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and is currently painted in the markings of HW840, the Hurricane IIC of 34 Sqn flown by Canadian Flt Lt Jimmy Whalen, who was killed during the Battle for Kohima in April 1944.
The Last of The Many at the National Air Races at Coventry in June 1954, at which it performed with the final example of the Fairey Swordfish, NF389, in a World War Two tribute. Although this photograph appears to show the Hurricane with a different-coloured rudder, it is in fact just a trick of the light shining on the high-gloss paint on the deflected rudder.
Frank Bullen at the controls of G-AMAU after its painting in the new post-Angels One Five colour scheme. The Last of The Many’s propeller was a Rotol RS 5/10 wooden variable-pitch three-blader of 11ft 3in diameter.