It had a Warren girder
-type fuselage of high-tensile steel tubes, over which sat frames and longerons
that carried the doped linen
covering. An advantage conferred by the steel-tube structure was that cannon shells could pass right through the wood and fabric covering without exploding. Even if one of the steel tubes were damaged the repair work required was relatively simple and could be done by the groundcrew at the airfield. An all metal structure damaged by an exploding cannon shell required more specialised equipment to repair.
The old-fashioned structure also permitted the assembly of Hurricanes with relatively basic equipment under field conditions. Crated Hurricanes were assembled in West Africa and flown across the Sahara to the Middle East theatre, and to save space, some Royal Navy aircraft carriers carried their reserve Sea Hurricanes dismantled into their major assemblies, which were slung up on the hangar bulkheads and deckhead for reassembly when needed. Initially, the wing structure consisted of two steel spars, and was also fabric-covered. "Several fabric-wing Hurricanes were still in service during the Battle of Britain, although a good number had had their wings replaced during servicing or after repair. Changing the wings only required three hours' work per aircraft."
An all-metal, stressed-skin wing of duraluminium
(a DERD specification similar to AA2024) was introduced in April 1939 and was used for all of the later marks.
"The metal skinned wings allowed a diving speed that was 80mph (129 km/h) higher than the fabric-covered ones. They were very different in construction but were interchangeable with the fabric-covered wings, and one trials Hurricane, L1877, was even flown with a fabric-covered port wing and metal-covered starboard wing. The great advantage of the metal-covered wings over the fabric ones was that the metal ones could carry far greater stress loads without needing so much structure beneath."
In contrast, the contemporary Spitfire used all-metal monocoque
construction and was thus both lighter and stronger, though less tolerant to bullet damage. With its ease of maintenance, widely set landing gear and benign flying characteristics, the Hurricane remained in use in theatres of operations where reliability, easy handling and a stable gun platform were more important than performance, typically in roles like ground attack.