A former World War II fighter in which Air New Zealand technicians, trainees and volunteers invested thousands of hours of work is expected to be sold for up to A$4 million ($4.94 million) at auction in Australia.

The 1940 Hawker Hurricane MkIIA fighter - a Battle of Britain veteran and one of only 11 Hurricanes still flying - will be offered at a military and aviation auction in Melbourne on September 27.

A specialist at auctioneers Bonhams and Goodman, Catherine Davison, said fighter aircraft of such calibre rarely appeared on the market.

"I am sure that a discerning buyer will take on the custodianship of this historically significant plane," she said.

A spokesman for the New Zealand Fighter Pilots Museum at Wanaka, Ian Brodie, said it did not own the Hurricane, which was displayed there.

Recovered from the Russian tundra near Murmansk in 1991, the Hurricane was bought by Wanaka-based aviation enthusiast Sir Tim Wallis a year later.

Sir Tim, who started the Warbirds over Wanaka airshows, gathered a large collection of veteran aircraft, most of which have since been sold.

Graeme Ramshaw, chief executive of the Wallis family's Alpine Deer Group, which owns the Alpine Fighter Collection, said the Hurricane was part of a sell-up of the collection.

In 1996, Sir Tim suffered severe head injuries when he crashed his 1944 Spitfire Supermarine, which was repaired and sold in 2006 to an Australian aviation museum.

Air New Zealand engineering staff, trainees and volunteers spent three years making parts such as brackets, clips, tubes and wire for the Hurricane.

A radiator core made of 6000 individual tubes required two years of work by a Whangarei company and the Alpine Fighter Collection provided the propeller hub. The Hurricane took six years to rebuild and flew again in 2000.

- NZPA