Hawker Tempest II (PR536)Hawker Tempest II (PR536)Hawker Tempest II (PR536)

Hawker Tempest II (PR536)  [@ RAF Hendon]

Late in 1941 it became clear to the Hawker design team that a number of radical improvements to the basic design of the Hawker Typhoon would be necessary if the aircraft were to fulfil its primary role, which was still considered to be interception at all altitudes.  Three main areas were isolated.  First, cockpit visibility required drastic improvement; secondly, the wing would have to be redesigned to improve performance at altitudes above 6100m (20,000ft) and in high-speed dives; and thirdly, increased fuel tanks would have to be provided to improve the Typhoon's endurance, which was restricted to about an hour and a half.Sabre II engine

The modified design, designated Hawker P.1012, was tendered to Air Ministry Specification F.10/41 and on 18th November 1941 Hawker Aircraft Ltd received a contract to build two prototypes, to be known as the Typhoon II.  However, such were the differences, particularly in external appearance, between the Typhoon and the new design, that, before the prototype had flown, the type was renamed Tempest in August 1942.  Due to delivery problems with engines the Air Ministry ordered six prototypes to be built.  This resulted in a single Tempest I (HM599) with a Sabre IV, two Tempest IIs (LA602 and LA607) with the Bristol Centaurus IV, a Tempest III (LA610) with a Griffon IIB, a Tempest IV (LA614) with a Griffon 61, and the Tempest V (HM595) with the Sabre II.

The first prototype Tempest, the Mk V (HM595), flew on 2nd September 1942 and an initial contract called for 400 Tempests powered by the Napier Sabre IV engine.  However this was cancelled due to production problems with the Sabre IV engine and the contract amended in favour of the 18 cylinder radial Centaurus powered Tempest II.  With the cancellation of the projected Tempest III and IV it meant that the first variant to enter production was the Tempest V powered by the Napier Sabre II.  (Sabre II engine - left).  The Sabre was intended to exceed 2000 hp.  Liquid-cooled sleeve valves and a 24-cylinder flat "H" configuration were adopted by Frank Halford, the designer, to keep the engine compact.  However, it proved complex and troublesome to develop.  The first production Tempest V rolled off the production line on the 21st June 1943.

The radial engine installation of the Tempest II owed much to the scrutiny of a captured Focke-Wulf Fw 190 with the first Tempest II (LA602) taking to the air on the 28th June 1943 powered by a Centaurus IV engine.  Again production difficulties meant that first production Tempest IIs were rolled off the assembly line a year later on the 4th October 1944.  All production aircraft were powered by the Centaurus V engine with 402 being built by Hawker at Langley and 50 by the Bristol Aeroplane Company at Banwell.  Following further delays the variant entered service with 54 Squadron RAF in November 1945.  The type equipped eight squadrons in all, serving in India, Malaya or with 2nd TAF in Germany.  33 Squadron used the Tempest II against terrorists in Malaya before converting to Hornets in 1951.  The large stocks of Tempest II allowed eighty-nine of these aircraft to be supplied to the newly independent Indian Air Force in 1947.  The following year twenty-four Tempest IIs were delivered to Pakistan. 

When the Tempest Mk V entered service with Squadron RAF and 486 Squadron RNZAF (the two squadrons combining to form 150 Wing) in April 1944 and it was the fastest and most powerful fighter in the world.  After some early sorties across the English Channel the Tempest squadrons were assigned to the air defence of Great Britain, operating against the V1 flying bombs that were now being launched against London.   The Tempest's high speed made it the ideal interceptor in this new role; 3 Squadron was the top-scoring unit, with 258 VIs destroyed, while 486 Squadron claimed 223.  Tempests also scored a number of kills against the new German jets including the Messerschmitt Me 262. In fact the type was considered by many German jet pilots as the Me 262's most dangerous adversary.  The Tempest squadrons subsequently moved to the Continent with 2nd TAF and became a potent addition to the Allies' striking power during the closing months of the war.   Eleven squadrons were eventually armed with the Tempest V and five with the VI, which had a 2700hp Sabre VA engine.   The total Tempest V production consisted of  805 Vs and 142 VIs and after WW2 a number of Tempest Vs were converted for target tug duties.

PR536 was built at Langley by Hawker and served with 5 Squadron of the RAF, based at Peshawar (now part of Pakistan) and later at Poona, India5 Squadron converted to Tempests at Bhopal in March 1946 and later served for a time as the Tempest conversion unit for the Indian Air Force When 5 Squadron disbanded on the 1st August 1946 PR536 together with 123 other Tempest IIs were handed over to the Indian Air Force (then the Royal Indian Air Force) on the 20th September 1947.  From October 1947 RIAF Tempests saw action by providing close-air support to the Indian Army during the fifteen month campaign against insurgents in Kashmir and Jammu.  The last Indian Air Force Tempests were withdrawn from frontline service in 1953 but some remained in service up to 1956 as operational trainers at Hakimpet or at the Armament Training Wing, Jamnagar, for ground instruction or as airfield decoys.  Shipped to the UK in 1979 PR536 was eventually rebuilt to full static display condition.  The rear fuselage came from a Tempest II acquired from the Royal Navy Engineering College, Manadon, and the wings from Kanpur c.1971 leaving just the forward fuselage from PR536.  On display at RAF Hendon since 1990, PR536 is shown in the photograph in 5 Squadron's colours when based in India in 1946.

Hawker Tempest V/TT 5 (NV778)Hawker Tempest V/TT 5 (NV778)Hawker Tempest V/TT 5 (NV778)

Hawker Tempest V/TT 5 (NV778)  [@ RAF Hendon]

Powered by a Napier Sabre IIA, NV778 was built as a Tempest V in November 1944 by Hawker at Langley, Buckinghamshire and placed on charge at Napiers for Research and Development on the 5th January 1945.  After a number of accidents NV778 was placed into storage by 5 MU Kemble, Gloucestershire, on the 9th September 1946.  Taken out of storage on the 24th March 1950 and transferred to Hawkers at Langley for conversion to a Target Tug, one of 80 such conversions done between Febuarary1950 and May 1952.  Given a Napier Sabre IID during the conversion the procedure was a response to the need for a tug with a much higher speed than the purpose built Miles M.25 Martinet target tug to serve the new RAF jet fighters.  Transferred to 233 OCU, Pembrey, and Wales on the 27th October 1952 NV778 remained with 233 OCU until retirement to 20 MU at Aston Down during July 1955 when the unit converted to Gloster Meteor 8s as target tugs.  Sold to the Ministry of Supply on the 30th November 1955 together with a number of other Tempests and used for weapons effect trails at Shoeburyness.  NV778 was reconstructed from parts of several aircraft (85% of the airframe is the original NV778) in the Proof and Experimental Establishment, Shoeburyness, for display during 33 Squadrons' standard presentation on the 24th April 1958 at Middleton St George, County Durham.  After the presentation NV778 was placed on Gate Guardian duties in August 1958 at Middleton St George and then during September 1963 at RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire, upon closure of Middleton St George.  In subsequent years NV778 was displayed at several airshows and parades as well as placed into storage at RAF Cosford. Finally after refurbishment by 71 MU at Bicester, NV778 arrived at RAF Museum, Hendon during November 1972.  Following restoration in the early 1990s and then during 2002 NV778 was fully rebuilt and repainted as a Target Tug.  NV778 is the only complete original Tempest V surviving in the world.