Hawker Hurricane Mk.I-IV in Royal Air Force and Foreign Service
In January 1934 Hawker Aircraft began design work on a new private venture monoplane fighter incorporating the latest Rolls-Royce PV-12 engine—soon to be known as the Merlin. Impressed by the first design, the Air Ministry wrote specification F 36/34 around Hawker's project; initially it was proposed to arm the aircraft with four .303 in. Vickers machine guns, two alongside the engine and one in each wing, but availability of the far superior Browning gun of the same calibre led to a change, and when the prototype first flew on 6 November 1935 it had provision for no less than eight of these guns in batteries of four in each wing. Powered by a 900 h.p. Merlin "C", which drove a two-blade wooden airscrew, the new aircraft reached a top speed of 315 m.p.h. at 16,200 feet—a performance well in advance of that being achieved by immediate contemporaries abroad, such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109V-1 and Heinkel He 112V-1 in Germany, the Morane 405 in France and the Curtiss Hawk 75 and Seversky 2XP in the United States.