Yorkshire Air Museum exhibits replica of Hurricane fighter aircraft to honour French pilot who defended York during World War II

A French pilot who defended York during World War II is being honoured as the Yorkshire Air Museum has unveiled the completed replica of the Hurricane fighter aircraft.

The museum at Elvington near York has unveiled a reproduction of a Second World War Hurricane fighter aircraft that shot down a German bomber.

On April 29, 1942, the German air force launched a bombing operation that was later known as the ‘Baedeker Raids’.

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In retaliation for Royal Air Force (RAF) strikes on two historic medieval German cities - Lubeck and Rostock - the Luftwaffe picked targets from a travel book; Baedeker’s Guide to Britain. York was one of the listed cities.

The remodelled Hurricane. (Pic credit: Yorkshire Air Museum)The remodelled Hurricane. (Pic credit: Yorkshire Air Museum)
The remodelled Hurricane. (Pic credit: Yorkshire Air Museum)

An RAF Hurricane llc Night Fighter of 253 Squadron, flying from its base in Lincolnshire, encountered the attacking German bombers and shot one down.

French fighter pilot Yves Mahe, who was 23 years old at the time, operated the Hurricane and his quick reactions were recognised by the City of York, which named him a ‘Citizen of Honour’.

The Lorraine Cross flag was raised on the Mansion House in his honour and there is also a plaque with his name etched in the city centre.

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Yves survived the war, even though he had been shot down flying over the Russian front in November 1942, and was taken prisoner by the Germans. He had been condemned to death by the camp commander after an attempt to escape.

Yvest had flown at 400mph to defend the city from German bombs and by chance came across a Luftwaffe bomber that headed for the Rowntree's Factory in York where munitions were stored.

He had overflown the pilot, who dropped bombs indiscriminately instead, avoiding an explosion which could have destroyed the city centre.

The Yorkshire Air Museum has remodelled its existing replica of the Hurricane to match Yves aircraft.

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Teaching staff made dummy gun barrels from lengths of metal pipe, to give it an authentic appearance.

Yorkshire Air Museum’s head of aviation conservation, Gary Hancock, said: “Our team of volunteers have done a stunning job of recreating the look of the original aircraft that came to York’s defence and the York College tutors leant 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.”

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