Hawker Hurricane R4118 is widely regarded as the most historic fighter aircraft to survive from the Second World War and is the only Hurricane to have taken part in the Battle of Britain that is still flying.
Built by the Gloster Aircraft company in 1940, MkI Hurricane R4118 was delivered to 605 County of Warwick Squadron in August of that year. She flew 49 sorties from Croydon during the Battle of Britain and shot down or damaged five enemy aircraft.
After being shot down herself on 22 October 1940, Hurricane R4118 was rebuilt and taken on charge by 111 Squadron at Dyce on 18 January 1941. From there she was flown on patrol over the North Sea and again saw active combat. Over the following two years Hurricane R4118 was used primarily as a training aircraft with 59 and 56 OTUs and was rebuilt a further three times following major accidents, including hitting a lorry on the runway and being stuffed into a snowbank.
In December 1943, R4118 was crated at Cardiff and shipped to India as a training aircraft. However it was never needed and remained in its packing case in Bombay until 1947 when it was struck off charge and donated to Varanasi university for engineering instruction. The fuselage was stood outside in a compound with the propeller, wings and tailplane laid on the ground. There she remained, exposed to the elements until 1996, when Peter Vacher, a British retired businessman and restoration enthusiast discovered her. Peter spent the next six years negotiating her return to the UK.
In June 2001 the airframe was safely delivered to Hawker Restorations in Suffolk. Meticulous attention was paid to make sure Hurricane R4118 was restored to her 1940 condition exactly as she had been flown in the Battle of Britain. The original Browning .303 machine guns were reconditioned before being de-activated and refitted. The airframe was covered in original Irish linen and painted by Vintage Fabrics. The early Merlin III engine was rebuilt by Maurice Hammond and the Rotol propeller was constructed by Skycraft. Some three and a half years later her restoration was completed and she flew again for the first time post restoration just before Christmas in 2004.
Ten years later after many appearances at UK airshows she was put up for sale with a £2m price tag. Despite fears she would be sold abroad, in September 2015 Hurricane R4118 was purchased by British aviation enthusiast and software entrepreneur James Brown and moved to Shuttleworth’s Old Warden Aerodrome.