Hurricane Night Fighter Replica With a French Twist

The Yorkshire Air Museum has restored its Hawker Hurricane replica to pay tribute to a French hero of World War II.

With cannons to the fore, the YAM Hawker Hurricane replica pays tribute to a heroic French aviator. [Photo via Yorkshire Air Museum]
Aircorps Art Dec 2019


The bravery of a French pilot who came to the defense of York in its darkest hour is being honored with a new exhibit at the Yorkshire Air Museum (YAM) at Elvington: a replica of a Hawker Hurricane night fighter that shot down a Luftwaffe bomber during an attack on the city during World War II.

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The Hurricane replica was in in need of some TLC before the rebuild commenced. [Photo via Yorkshire Air Museum]

On April 29th, 1942, in retaliation for RAF strikes on two historic medieval German cities (Lubeck and Rostock), the Luftwaffe picked targets from a travel book titled Baedeker’s Guide to Britain, and the bombing operation became known as the Baedeker Raids. York was among the historic cities targeted. A Hurricane Mk.IIc night fighter of 253 Squadron RAF, flying from its base in Lincolnshire, came across the attacking German bombers and shot one down.

The Hurricane pilot was 23-year-old Frenchman Yves Mahé. His quick reactions were recognized by the City of York, which named him a ‘Citizen of Honour’ and raised the Lorraine Cross flag on the Mansion House in his honor. There is also a plaque bearing his name in the city center. Yves Mahé survived the war despite being shot down flying over the Russian front in November 1942, being taken prisoner by the Germans and, after an attempt to escape, being condemned to death by the camp commander. He survived by being kept hidden by fellow prisoners. He died in 1962 in the crash of a Gloster Meteor night fighter jet in the Ardennes.

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York College engineering lecturers Ian Frazer (left) and Si Wheeler, along with YAM’s Gary Hancock, show some of the replica cannon barrels made for the Hurricane. [Photo via Yorkshire Air Museum]

Now the YAM has remodeled its replica Hurricane to match Mahé’s aircraft. As well as being repainted from its old Battle of Britain-era day fighter camouflage into a distinctive black night fighter color scheme by museum volunteers, replicas of the Mk.IIc variant’s four Hispano 20mm cannons have been constructed with help from the Engineering Department at York College. Teaching staff made dummy gun barrels from lengths of metal pipe to give a truly authentic look to the refurbished replica.

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[Photo via Yorkshire Air Museum]

Gary Hancock, YAM’s Head of Aviation Conservation, said “Our team of volunteers have done a stunning job of recreating the look of the original aircraft that came to York’s defense and the York College tutors lent their expertise in milling replica barrels for our dummy cannons. We even used sections of redundant fire extinguishers to make them look genuine. The result is simply stunning and is a great tribute to Yves Mahé.”

The Hurricane has previously stood at the gate of the Museum but will now stand outside the Admissions building, for visitors to see as they enter the site.

Zac Yates
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Zac, born and raised in New Zealand, grew up immersed in aviation, with his father working as a helicopter crewman and living at Wanganui Airport. His passion for aviation started in childhood, building scale model kits and following the global warbird scene. He later trained as a journalist but found mainstream media unfulfilling, leading him to pursue a career as an aircraft maintenance engineer.

Now residing in Blenheim, near the historic Omaka Aerodrome, Zac studies at RNZAF Base Woodbourne and aspires to become a private and warbird pilot. Known as "Handbag" in aviation circles, he shares his love for aviation through photography and writing, connecting with enthusiasts worldwide.

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About Zac Yates 49 Articles
Zac, born and raised in New Zealand, grew up immersed in aviation, with his father working as a helicopter crewman and living at Wanganui Airport. His passion for aviation started in childhood, building scale model kits and following the global warbird scene. He later trained as a journalist but found mainstream media unfulfilling, leading him to pursue a career as an aircraft maintenance engineer. Now residing in Blenheim, near the historic Omaka Aerodrome, Zac studies at RNZAF Base Woodbourne and aspires to become a private and warbird pilot. Known as "Handbag" in aviation circles, he shares his love for aviation through photography and writing, connecting with enthusiasts worldwide.

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