The Hawker Aircraft Company Tempest was initially known as the Hawker Typhoon II, evolved as this suggests from the Hawker Typhoon having been fitted with a new thin section wing of elliptical planform.
The Hawker Tempest I was designed around the 2,500 hp Napier Sabre IV engine in a clean installation, with wing-mounted radiators. The 45-strong Hawker Design Team, led by Sydney Camm, had decamped to Claremont Park, Esher following the 1940 bombing raid at Brooklands. Despite this huge technical effort, delays with development of the Sabre IV engine meant that the first Tempest version to enter production was in fact the Hawker Tempest V.
The first prototype Hawker Tempest (HM595) was flown at Langley for the first time on 2nd September 1942 with Phillip Lucas at the controls.
The Hawker Tempest V prototype initially retained a 'Typhoon-style' cockpit and tailfin although a dorsal fin was soon added, together with an all-round clear view canopy which was used on all production aircraft. The marque utilised a 2,180 hp Napier Sabre IIA or IIB engine with a chin radiator (i.e. mounted within an air intake below the engine) and was armed with four 20mm Hispano cannons.
The prototype Hawker Tempest I (HM599) flew on 24th February 1943, With its powerful Napier Sabre IV engine and an exceptionally clean design, it achieved some 466 mph at 24,500 ft. However, despite this impressive performance, it did not proceed further due to 'engine production shortages'.
Hawker Tempest V deliveries to Operational Squadrons began in April 1944 and by the end of 1945, some seven squadrons had been equipped with the type, which continued in service long after the end of the War.
Flown without any external armament, it was fast enough to engage German V1 flying bombs, shooting down some 638 V1s between 13th June and 5th September 1944. A number of statistics are quoted regarding the success in combat of the Hawker Tempest with some suggesting a successful engagement ratio of 7 to 1.
Over 800 Hawker Tempest Vs were built and a number of these, together with Hawker Tempest VI aircraft, were converted to target tug duties. Designated as the Hawker Tempest TT Mk5, these were fitted with a wind-driven target winch-pack, carried under the port wing. The type continued in service in the target-towing role until 1953.
In addition to intercepting the V1 in the air, the Hawker Tempest proved to be a potent ground-attack fighter with rocket projectiles and underwing bombs augmenting the heavy cannon armament. It was soon operating successfully against airfields, radar installations, enemy transport, railway depots and rail lines, together with all important attacks on V1 launch sites across Northern Europe.
One Hawker Tempest V (NV768) was experimentally fitted with a Napier Sabre V engine with an annular radiator, later being fitted with a very large ducted spinner that faired back into the lines of the engine cowling.
The second major production variant was the Hawker Tempest II, powered by the Bristol Centaurus IV engine. The first example (LA602) was flown on 28th June 1943 and production of some 50 aircraft was contracted to the Bristol Aeroplane Company at Weston-super-Mare. Additional aircraft were built by Hawker Aircraft at Langley, taking the total to 402.
The first 'Bristol-built' Tempest II (MW374) flew for the first time on 4th October 1944 and although all production aircraft were initially powered by the Bristol Centaurus V engine, many were later upgraded to the Bristol Centaurus VIl engine.
Post-war, ex-RAF examples of the type were operated by India (89 aircraft) and Pakistan (24 aircraft) with Hawker Tempest IIs remaining in front-line service with both nations until 1953.
The final production variant was the Hawker Tempest VI which was a Hawker Tempest V fitted with a 2,340 hp Napier Sabre V engine, albeit once again using a larger chin-mounted radiator. Some 142 were built with the first prototype being a conversion of the original Hawker Tempest V prototype (HM595).
The Hawker Tempest VI was too late to see action during the Second World War although four RAF squadrons operated the type in West Germany until 1949. These were subsequently replaced by the De Havilland Vampire fighter-bomber.
Variants & Numbers
|Tempest I||Single prototype only HM599, Sabre IV engine.|
|Tempest II||Two prototypes, production 402 by Hawker and 50 by Bristol. Bristol Centaurus engine.|
|Tempest III & IV||Two prototypes (LA610 and LA614) for trials with Rolls-Royce Griffon engine. LA614 was not completed, but LA610 emerged as one of the Hawker Fury prototypes with a Griffon 85 engine driving a contra-rotating propeller.|
|Tempest V||Prototype plus 800 production aircraft built by Hawker at Langley|
|Tempest VI||142 built by Hawker, powered by Sabre V engine with larger radiator|
|Total built||Four prototypes and 1,394 production aircraft made up as listed above|
|Specification||Tempest II||Tempest V||Tempest VI|
|Powerplant||2,520 hp Bristol Centaurus V or VI||2,180 hp Napier Sabre IIA, IIB or IIC||2,340 hp Napier Sabre V|
|Span||41 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||13,250 lb||13,540 lb||13,700 lb|
|Capacity & Armament||Pilot, Four 20mm Hispano cannon, provision for two 500 lb or two 1,000 lb bombs underwing, or eight 60lb underwing rocket projectiles, long range fuel tanks etc.|
|Maximum Speed||442 mph at 15,000 ft||426 mph at 18,500 ft||438 mph at 17,800 ft|
|Range (normal / max)||800 / 1,640 miles||740 / 1,530 miles||750 miles|
|Variant||Location / Website|
|Mk.II HA623 / MW848||
Indian Air Force Museum, Palam, New Delhi, India
Anglia Restorations, IWM Duxford
Royal Air Force Museum London, Hendon, UK
Royal Air Force Museum London, Hendon, UK