This aircraft is believed to be the last Hurricane ever to enter service with the RAF. It first flew on 1 January 1944; it was delivered to 5 MU (Maintenance Unit) on 28 January that year and was in continuous RAF service from then until today.
The aircraft served with 63, 309 (Polish) and 26 Squadrons before the cessation of hostilities. Unlike many Hurricanes, LF363 was not scrapped but served on various station flights. She also appeared in the films "Angels One Five’, "Reach for the Sky", "The Battle of Britain" as well as the television series "The War in the Air". LF363 became a founding member of the RAF Historic Flight at Biggin Hill in July 1957.
On September 11 1991, whilst en route from RAF Coningsby to Jersey, LF363’s engine suffered a mechanical failure and it started to run rough and to lose power, pouring smoke from the exhaust stubs. The pilot diverted to RAF Wittering but the engine failed completely at a late stage of the approach, resulting in a crash-landing on the airfield. The aircraft was seriously damaged by the crash and the ensuing fierce fire; fortunately the pilot escaped with a broken ankle and minor burns. LF363 was completely re-built by Historic Flying Ltd at Audley End between 1994 and 1998, when it flew again for the first time in seven years, subsequently re-joining the BBMF.
LF363 currently wears the colours of Hurricane I P3878 with code YB-W, the aircraft of Flying Officer Harold "Birdy" Bird-Wilson of 17 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. He joined 17 Squadron in April 1940 and fought continuously through the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, achieving 6 confirmed kills, sharing in the destruction of several others and being awarded a DFC. His luck ran out on September 24 when he became Adolf Galland’s 40th victim and had to bale out of a flaming YB-W over the channel.
'Birdy" survived the war and retired as an Air Vice Marshall having been awarded the CBE, DSO, DFC and Bar and the AFC and Bar. He died aged 80 in August 2000.
Nice detail is that 17 Squadron currently operates the latest RAF fighter, the Typhoon, and is, alongside the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at RAF Coningsby.