Hawker Tempest


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Hawker Tempest

The performance of the Typhoon was such that speeds of around 805km/h could be attained in a dive. It was, therefore, numbered among the high-performance aircraft of World War II which began to be affected by the problems of compressibility, with the accelerated airflow over the cambered upper surface of the wing beginning, locally, to approach the speed of sound. It was in April 1941 that discussions were opened between Hawker and the Ministry of Aircraft Production on the subject of Typhoon development. Proposals for a Typhoon Mk II included the installation of a Sabre IV engine of higher power and driving a four-bladed propeller, improved view and a cleaned-up tail.

Hawker proposals (submitted in August 1941) included the suggestion that the Typhoon Mk II should have thin elliptical wings of 12.8m span and 27.9m2 area, with a 15% thickness/chord ratio at the root and 10% at the tip. The introduction of a new thin-section wing made it necessary to reduce the amount of fuel carried in the wings and an extra bay was inserted in the fuselage behind the engine to accommodate an additional fuel tank. The lengthening of the fuselage called for increased fin area. Owing to the delay in the production of the Sabre IV engine, it was decided to complete the prototype Typhoon II with a Sabre II engine. However, because the Mk II had become a completely different aeroplane both in external appearance and in construction, permission was sought and granted to change its name to Tempest.

In June 1942 it was proposed that six Tempest prototypes should be completed: one with a Sabre VI (Tempest I); two with Centaurus (Tempest IIs); one with a Rolls-Royce Griffon 2B (Tempest III); one with a Griffon 61 (Tempest IV); and one with a Sabre III (Tempest V). Owing to heavy commitments Hawker could not undertake to build more than three and the Mks I, II and V were chosen. The Tempest V prototype first flew on 2 September 1942, and the first production aircraft appeared on 25 June 1943; this version was chosen with the Sabre II, a well-tried power unit available in quantity.

The Tempest V first entered RAF service in April 1944, and was the only version to be used operationally during World War II. Early utilisation was largely in the train-busting role, but their high speed made them an ideal interceptor of V-1 flying-bombs, which were launched against London from 13 June 1944. In just under three months Tempest Vs destroyed more than one-third of the RAF's total of 1,771 V-1s. Later, with the 2nd TAF in Europe, they not only made a valuable contribution in the close-support role, but claimed the interception and destruction of 20 Messerschmitt Me 262 jet-powered aircraft.

The Tempest VI was a tropicalised version of the Mk V with a 1,714kW Sabre V engine. This entered RAF service post-war, as did the Tempest II with Bristol Centaurus power plant. This latter version, 450 of which were built, was the RAF's last single-seat piston-engined fighter bomber. It was largely replaced by the de Havilland Hornet during 1948, but a few squadrons still flew Tempests until 1951, including several squadrons in Germany.

Towards the end of 1948 ex-RAF Tempest IIs were supplied also to the air forces of India and Pakistan. Many Mk V and Mk VI aircraft were converted subsequently to serve as TT.5 or TT.6 high-speed target tugs.

Hawker Tempest

 MODELTempest Mk V
 ENGINE1 x Napier Sabre IIA, 1626kW
  Take-off weight6142 kg13541 lb
  Empty weight4082 kg8999 lb
  Wingspan12.50 m41 ft 0 in
  Length10.26 m34 ft 8 in
  Height4.90 m16 ft 1 in
  Wing area28.06 m2302.04 sq ft
  Max. speed686 km/h426 mph
  Ceiling11125 m36500 ft
  Range1190 km739 miles
 ARMAMENT4 x 20mm cannon, 450kg of bombs

Tempest IIA three-view drawing of Tempest II (1668 x 1218)

Niroop, e-mail, 24.05.2015 08:35

The most celebrated Tempest pilot was Pierre Clostermann, a French pilot serving with the RAF. Virtually all Tempest model kits come with decals of his registration JFE and the Lorraine Cross under the cockpit. His a /c was christened "Le Grande Charles".


Ron, e-mail, 15.08.2014 03:58

The new Mk V 20mm Hispano finally upgraded the rate of fire to 750 rpm for the Tempest. Till then, the Hispano did 600-700 rpm. It was more reliable too, in exchange for shorter barrels and less cold weather troubles. Muzzle velocity was only a touch less at 840 fpm.
US Hispanos were even less reliable than the Mk II RAF Hispano cannon. Even the M3 post-war Hispano was unreliable!
The Hispano 20mm cannon was otherwise very hard-hitting.

The low velocity Axis 20mm cannons at least had rough parity in weight per shell (Bf 109 and A6M2).
Later velocity became acceptable (Mauser and Type 99-II).
But the Type 99 was slower than the Hispano Mk I.

The lighter mine round of the Mauser 20mm compensated with the most effective HE results of any 20mm WW2 fighter cannon.

The lighter 20mm IJAAF and Russian shells compensated with rapid rate of fire. The Ho-3 was the exception with the heaviest shell and only 400 rpm but best velocity. This was altered with the Japanese army Ho-5. This is the fastest 20mm (850 rpm) but lightest HE shell.
The Russian ShVAK 20mm was almost as light and almost as fast. The B-20 Russian light cannon was at least as good but barely saw action in WW2, like the Hispano Mk V.


Ron, e-mail, 09.01.2014 11:37

Strike the previous comment about the 805 kph. After rereading the context I am corrected again. That was for the Typhoon. Sorry.


Ron, e-mail, 09.01.2014 11:29

Correction to my previous post: I believe the Tempest V terminal dive of mach .83 is closer to 550 mph (though I've seen 632 mph for mach .83 level speed conversion, not dive).
I've also seen 560 mph before but not much faster for the dive of the Mk V. The Tempest dive speed in the text at the top of the page of 805 kph (500 mph) may be for the slower Tempest II in the photo. Of course the Mk II was not in action in WW2 like the Mk V.


Bernae cross, e-mail, 26.10.2012 20:01

Squadron Leader. Neville Duke, flew a Tempest London to India, late forties,I believe,and beat the record made by a Vampire.


Ron, e-mail, 07.07.2010 03:32

When flown in company with Spitfires IX, XIV, P-51C, P-47D, Bf 109G, and Fw 190A (by The Air Fighter Development Unit). The Temp' out dove all of them! It out rolled all at 400-500 mph as well. How do I explain the discrepancy in dive between the Temp' and the Spit' XIV I posted already? I don't know, but I will repeat that these results were in a group test on the same day and air temperature. Perhaps the bubble canopy Spit' XIV is less stable diving than the razorback model (like with the P-51 or P-47, but here even the bubble top P-47 out-dives the Malcom hood P-51 fast-back!). Just food for thought. In the case of the Luftwaffe fighters, I suggest their poor comparison could be that the Anglo pilots favored preserving their rare specimens unlike a soviet test pilot. Or neglect using boost to favor their own fighter by comparison (GO USA). Needless to say, research is full of such discrepancies. Just let a Luftwaffe pilot in there and everything changes. In any case the Tempest had the respect of the Luftwaffe. When at low level to protect landing jets, the Dora pilots felt the Tempest had the advantage, when confronted.


James Walby, e-mail, 07.07.2010 04:58

Flight Oct 7 1948 P 422, perfofmance figures for Tempest 6 viz [Sabre 7 @ + 17.5 lbs boost]418mph @S.L.;435mph @6000ft;455mph@17000 ft, not bad numbers.


James Walby, e-mail, 07.07.2010 04:57

Flight Oct 7 1948 P 422, perfofmance figures for Tempest 6 viz [Sabre 7 @ + 17.5 lbs boost]418mph @S.L.;435mph @6000ft;455mph@17000 ft, not bad numbers.


Ron, e-mail, 16.07.2010 03:34

Temp V was nearly as good in WW2.


Rufus Heald, e-mail, 07.09.2010 18:32

It is a shame that you have no deent photographs of the Mk 5 or Mk 6. The tempest was a lovely aircraft to fly but an absolute bitch on the ground. it is the only aircraft I know where you have to use the brakes on take off in order to keep straight. - Full trim and full rudder wer not sufficient to maintain directional control. An outstandingly strong aircraft it could absorbe a lot of battle damage ( I had the holes in mine to rpove it !) The Sabre engine had a reputation of failing frequently but mine never missed a beat in tewo operational tours - one in the Mk6 and one in the Mk2. If I had to fight I would prefer a Tempest to any of it's contemporaries of the same vintage


Ronald, e-mail, 24.09.2009 04:14

Tempest's terminal velocity dive speed was mach .83 or 632 mph.
It rolled 98 d /s @ 290 mph. Turn was good for it's size with the big engine pushed back partly onto the wing closer to the cg.
Not only could it embarrass a P-47 (except up high), it could maneuver with Bf 109Gs and Fw 190As too.


BOB NORTON, 12.07.2009 11:30

Are thier any TempestV left or any of the Napier ones can't belive they didn't keep any of these classic planes there was 800 bulit.


Ronald, e-mail, 04.09.2008 05:54

Excuse me! Where are the pictures of the Tempest V?
The Tempest II (pictured) didn't see action like the V did (as your text points out). Is this a case of a print shop blooper?
I hope it can be corrected. The Temp' V is a favorite of mine despite the dubious honor as the last WW2 Allied fighter loss in the West, falling to the guns of a He 162 jet.


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