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Remains of WWII-era Hurricane planes, sent to Soviet Union against Nazi Germany, discovered in Ukraine

The Hawker Hurricane fighters played a crucial role in defeating the attempts of Nazi Germany to invade the United Kingdom, shooting down over half of the enemy aircraft in the Battle of Britain, in a campaign led by the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Kyiv Updated on: July 02, 2023 23:36 IST
The Hurricane aircraft were crucial in Battle of Britain in
Image Source : STATE AVIATION MUSEUM, KYIV The Hurricane aircraft were crucial in Battle of Britain in 1940

WWII aircraft in Ukraine: In an interesting development in Ukraine, the remains of eight World War II-era British planes, which were sent to the Soviet Union during the Nazi Germany invasion in 1941, have been found buried in a forest south of the capital Kyiv, then a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

According to a report by the BBC, the British Hurricane fighter planes were part of a package to provide the USSR with allied military support, paid by the US under the Lend-Lease scheme. The US is now sending similar schemes to lend support to Ukraine to repel Russian forces in an ongoing war between the two nations.

This is the first time that the remains of so many fighter aircraft have been found in the country, as they are rarely found in Ukraine, according to aviation experts. "It's very important for our aviation history because no Lend-Lease aircraft have been found here before," said former airline pilot Oleks Shtan, who is also leading the excavation.

Role of Hurricane fighters against Nazi Germany

The Hawker Hurricane fighters played a crucial role in defeating the attempts of Nazi Germany to invade the United Kingdom, shooting down over half of the enemy aircraft in the Battle of Britain, in a campaign led by the Royal Air Force (RAF). According to Shtan, the Hurricane was a strong and reliable machine designed for inexperienced pilots.

As many as 3,000 Hurricane fighter planes were sent to the Soviet Union to assist the war effort there against Nazi Germany. Although most of them were destroyed or dismantled, some Hurricanes were deliberately broken and buried so that the Soviets did not have to pay them back. As per the Lend-Lease arrangement, the Soviets were required to pay for the remaining military equipment.

Fate of the eight Hurricane aircraft

The eight Hurricanes found in Ukraine were reportedly stripped of their radios, machine guns and useful scrap metal, then dragged by tractors, damaged and dropped into a ravine. These remains were found after the discovery of an unexploded bomb nearby from WWII. 

A painstaking excavation by hand of the area has been undertaken by the National Aviation Museum of Ukraine and attempts are being made to identify as many parts of the airplanes so that they can be reassembled and displayed, reported BBC.

"The Hurricanes are a symbol of British assistance during the years of the Second World War, just as we are very appreciative of British assistance nowadays. The UK is one of the largest suppliers of military equipment to our country now," said Valerii Romanenko, head of research at the Ukraine aviation museum.

It has been said that the USSR had lost many warplanes in their fight against Nazi Germany forces and desperately needed fighter aircraft, which the UK's RAF had provided. Soon, British pilots left and Soviet pilots took over the aircraft. 

Apparently, there are only 14 reassembled Hurricane fighters that can fly in the world today. The aircraft, overshadowed by the newer Spitfire plane, became obsolete at the end of the work and mostly used for air defence.

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