According to a report from the BBC, a collection of British Hawker Hurricanes from World War II, which had been forgotten for a long time, was recently unearthed in Ukraine. These eight rusted Hurricanes were unexpectedly discovered in a forest.
During the Second World War, these aircraft were sent to Ukraine as part of a program known as the Lend-Lease scheme. The purpose was to assist the Soviet Union in defending against aggression from a particular political group in the region.
Interestingly, there are similarities between the support Ukraine receives today and the assistance provided during the 1940s. The provision of military equipment, such as Hurricanes, is one example of this parallel between past and present events.
The discovery of these long-lost planes is not only interesting but also significant because it marks the first instance of Hurricanes being found in Ukraine.
“It is very rare to find this aircraft in Ukraine,” said Oleks Shtan, a former airline pilot leading the excavation. “It’s very important for our aviation history because no Lend-Lease aircraft have been found here before,” he added.
The Hurricane was a resilient and durable aircraft that was easy to maintain and repair. It was also highly successful throughout the war, serving in various theaters, and was particularly suitable for novice pilots.
“The Hurricane was a strong, easy to fly machine,” Shtan said. “It was stable as a gun platform and suitable for inexperienced pilots. A reliable aircraft,” he added.
Between 1941 and 1944, around 3,000 Hurricanes were supplied to the USSR to support their war efforts. Sadly, the majority of these planes were either destroyed in combat or dismantled for spare parts.
Some Hurricanes were intentionally disassembled and buried after the war to avoid the Soviet Union’s responsibility to reimburse the United States for any functional military equipment, as required by the Lend-Lease agreement.
Consequently, the fate of the eight Hurricanes discovered buried in a wooded area south of Kyiv, the current capital of Ukraine, was unfavorable. Valuable equipment, including radios, instruments, and machine guns, was stripped from the planes, along with any salvageable scrap metal.
They were then likely transported from a nearby airfield using tractors, dismantled, and unceremoniously discarded into a shallow ravine, which was subsequently covered with earth using bulldozers.
The cache of planes was stumbled upon when an unexploded World War II explosive was found nearby, and metal detectors were employed to locate the buried aircraft. Currently, the National Aviation Museum of Ukraine is undertaking a manual excavation at the site in order to identify and reconstruct as much of the planes as possible for exhibition purposes.
According to Valerii Romanenko, the research leader at the museum, Hurricanes played a crucial role in the history of Ukraine. “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,” he said. “The UK is one of the largest suppliers of military equipment to our country now,” he added.