Major G J "Lemmie" le Mesurier, Officer Commanding No. 1 Squadron SAAF, standing by his Hawker Hurricane Mark IIB, BG971 'AX-V', at LG 92, Egypt. On 3 July 1942 le Mesurier, flying BG971, led eleven Hurricanes to intercept a dive-bombing raid in the El Alamein area. While the aircraft of No. 274 Squadron RAF provided top cover the South African Hurricanes attacked a large formation of Junkers Ju 87Bs and succeeded in shooting down thirteen in what was to become known as the Alamein "Stuka Party". The following day, le Mesurier was himself shot down and wounded. He did not return to the Squadron until the following September.
Imperial War Museum IWM CNA 3027 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205211937
Hurricane Mk IIb, AX-W, BG764, N° 1 Squadron, Idku, Egypt, June 1942. The aircraft no longer fitted with an air-filter, eight guns were removed and VHF radios also removed
Early in April 1942, whilst based at El Gamil, in addition to their normal shipping patrols, the squadron were tasked to commence single aircraft sorties at 25000ft over Ras El Rum. This was an attempt to intercept high flying recce aircraft. Communication between the ground controller and the aircraft was extremely poor due to the H.F. radios in use, and the pilots were not able to clearly understand the intercept vectors given by the controller. Numerous interceptions were missed due to this. Orders came through, that the Hurricanes were to be flown one or two per day, to Kilo 8 near Cairo, to be fitted with V.H.F. radios. The first of these refits was completed on the 11th May, and by the 30th May, the squadron had moved to Idku and commenced operations against the high flying Ju-88's. The quality of communications with the new VHF radios, enabled the controllers to accurately vector the Hurricanes to succesfuly intercept the enemy aircraft. Four seperate frequecncies could now be easily selected by using buttons A,B,C or D. On the 1st June, Bobby Pryde, after a sucesfull interception, claimed one Ju 88 damaged. Another successful interception was made by Capt. Meterlekamp on the 3rd, when he also claimed a Ju 88 damaged. On the 4th June, however, when Billy Powell and Jeff Lanham were scambled and reached their altitude of 33,000ft, they saw the enemy aircraft still 7,000ft above them. It was making white vapour trails, which were also visible to those on the ground back at the aerodrome. At the time, the squadron pilots thought that these were He 177's, but later intelligence proved the aircraft to be the pressurised and unarmed reconnaisance Ju 86 R-1's. These were equiped with three cameras and aided by their long 25m wingspan, could reach an altitude of 45,000ft. Four of these Ju 86 R-1's were received by 2.(F) Aufklärungsgruppe 123, in early June 1942, and were being operated from their base at Kastelli, on the island of Crete.
Numerous scrambles were made on the following days with no successes being achieved. The Hurricanes were unable to reach the altitudes of the high flying bandits. Hurricane Mk.IIb, BG764, AX-W, dubbed, the "Special Machine", (as four interceptions had been flown by her in as many days), was further modified to fly the high level interception sorties from Idku. The high flying German reconnaisance aircraft were now making almost daily recce flights over Cairo and Alexandria.
To reduce the weight of the Hurricane and assist with it's rate of climb in reaching these high altitudes, eight guns were removed, leaving only two in each wing. In addition to the guns, the aircraft was further lightened, when some of the armour plating and the air filter were also removed. During subsequent tests of this Hurricane, Lt Hope, as reported by the radar controller, reached a computed altitude of 39,500ft. On the 14th June, Lt. Lawrence Waugh, flying AX-W at 34,600ft, fired on a Ju 86 R-1, still some 1,000ft above him. Whilst no damage to the enemy was noticed, this was however, the highest interception attempt made by a SAAF Hurricane during the war. A second Hurricane BE199, was also converted for use against the high flying bandits, but this aircraft was destroyed in a fire on the 19th June. Shortly after it came off standby and was taxied to a hangar for minor repairs, it caught alight and the resulting fire and explosions, destroyed both it and the hangar. By the end of June, the squadron had moved back into the desert and were stationed at L.G.15. They were soon to be involved in stopping the German Afrika Korps, in what was to become the "First battle of El Alamein". Stationed at Idku however, they had not had any success against the high flying Ju 86 R-1's of the Luftwaffe.