Restored war plane flies again - from new base near Hadleigh

Hawker Hurricane on the beach in Dunkirk Picture by Anglia Press Agency
Hawker Hurricane on the beach in Dunkirk Picture by Anglia Press Agency

An iconic Hurricane fighter-plane that crash-landed on the beach at Dunkirk during the famous troop evacuation in May 1940 has been restored.

It will fly again for the first time from a small airfield near Hadleigh in a few weeks’ time.

Hurricane being restored by Hawker Restoration. Picture by Anglia Press Agency

Hurricane being restored by Hawker Restoration. Picture by Anglia Press Agency

The sound of a Merlin engine over the county will also mark the first “warbird” flight from the strip at Elmsett, near Hadleigh, where the restoration company that put the WW2 fighter back together Hawker Restorations is setting up its new headquarters in a purpose-built hangar.

The Mk 1 Hawker Hurricane of 245 Squadron took off from Kent with Pilot Officer Kenneth McGlashan at the controls for a patrol off the French coast, providing cover for the armada of small ships collecting thousands of trapped Allied troops from the shore as the Germans swept across Northern France towards the Channel.

But the aircraft was hit by fire from a Messerschmit 109 and badly-injured the pilot managed to bring the aircraft down in one piece.

For years after the war the aircraft frame stayed on the sands a burnt wreck ,as Pilot Officer Kenneth McGlashan had set fire it.

Hurricane being transported to new Hawker restoration base in Elmsett. Picture by Anglia Press Agency

Hurricane being transported to new Hawker restoration base in Elmsett. Picture by Anglia Press Agency

He did it to prevent it falling into enemy hands before scrambling on board a paddle steamer that took him and 2,000 troops back to Britain.

Eventually, the plane was washed out to sea and covered by the tides and sand, but in the late 1980s French fishermen began complaining that their nets were being torn and discovered the sunken Hurricane.

It was dredged up by enthusiasts and was bought by Hawker Restoration, then based in Milden in 1993.

After changing hands several times, it ended up back in Suffolk where work began on the restoration six years ago.

Hurricane being transported to new Hawker Restoration base in Elmsett. Picture by Anglia Press Agency

Hurricane being transported to new Hawker Restoration base in Elmsett. Picture by Anglia Press Agency

Now, after 25,000 skilled hours of labour, fighter P2902 is ready to take to the skies again - this time over Suffolk.

Andrew Wenman of Hawker Restorations said: ”We brought the aircraft over to our new facility at Elmsett this week, and now the wings will be attached.

“We estimate that, by the end of March, it will be ready to fly.”

Mr Wenman added: “It is ideal for us to have 6,500 square feet of hangar, plus workshops and spraying facilities, under one roof.

“It is especially good to have the airstrip facility.

“It means we no longer have to build the aircraft, remove the wings, take them and fuselage by road to where it will fly from and then reassemble it again.”

At the controls will be Stuart Goldspink, a commercial pilot who is also one of the most experienced and and most-respected warbird pilots in the country.

Elmsett has a long history of flying, and it was once home of the Ipswich sky-diving and parachute club.

At one time, Elmsett was also the base for a commercial air taxi.

The move to Elmsett also allows the founder of the company to concentrate on his new enterprise Hawker Racing.

Hawker Racing is a company which specialises in the restoration and race preparation of pre-1966 Grand Prix cars.

Some of the sports racing cars that it concentrates on include famous cars like Ferrari, Maserati, Aston Martin and Cooper.