At the outbreak of World War II, only 111 Squadron and a handful of others were equipped with the Hurricane. Thanks to sudden massive orders and a well-organized Hawker sub-contracting production to Gloster and General Aircraft, more squadrons rapidly became operational. Cutting their teeth during the Battle of France, it was during the Battle of Britain that the type excelled and came to form the backbone of Fighter Command. While the Hurricane was steadily overtaken by the Spitfire in the fighter defence role, it remained the fighter of choice in North Africa and the Far East. Despite a large number being shot down in these far-flung conflicts, many received hasty repairs and returned to the fray while more fragile designs were permanently grounded. The Hurricane may not have been the prettiest or, the best-performing aircraft but, as Francis Mason stated: 'The Royal Air Force was glad to get the Spitfire...it had to have the Hurricane!'