Hawker Tempest Fighter-Bomber / Interceptor Aircraft
The Hawker Tempest was a successful attempt to improve upon the deficiencies seen in the earlier Hawker Typhoon for its intended interceptor role.
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The Hawker Tempest originally appeared as an improved Hawker Typhoon, the war-winning aircraft that effectively failed in its intended role as an interceptor but went on to star as a low-level fighter-bomber. The Tempest began as the "Typhoon II" but featured so many new changes to the aircraft that it was redesignated into its own "Tempest" series classification. The Tempest achieved equal success as a ground-attack fighter-bomber but really shined in interception against the dreaded wave of V-1 flying bombs ravaging England.
The Hawker design team set about to work on the failings of the Typhoon design and submitted a reworked model as Hawker P.1012 to the British Air Ministry in response to its Specification F.10/41. Improvements in fuel storage, a new wing and a redesigned cockpit were all contributing factors in the new design and ended up becoming the glaring deficiencies inherent in the original Typhoon model. The design was accepted as the "Typhoon II" and contracted through Hawker as two prototypes for review. The physical and internal changes in this new design, however, were so numerous that the series was redesignated as the "Tempest". The prototype Tempest aircraft achieved first flight on September 2nd, 1942 with success and, as a result, some 400 models in the Tempest I series were placed on order. However, due to delays of the intended Napier Sabre IV engine, the order was inevitably cancelled. The Tempest F.Mk II - with its Bristol Centaurus engine - was given the go-ahead instead. Once again, delays in engine production delayed this version and attention was moved to Tempest F.Mk.III and Tempest F.Mk IV models with their Rolls-Royce Griffon engines. These twin models were to also suffer unfortunate cancellation, giving rise to the first real production model to enter service in the form of the F.Mk V with its Napier Sabre II series engine.
The Tempest series differed from the Typhoon by sporting a longer fuselage and an all-new thin-section elliptical laminar flow low-mounted monoplane wing. The new wing was designed to solve the high-altitude performance deficiencies of the original Typhoon series and create a truly dedicated - and this time, successful - attempt at an interceptor. Five initial versions of the Tempest were conceived, though only three of these would ever see production in the forms of the Tempest F.Mk II, Tempest F.Mk.V and Tempest F.Mk VI fighter marks. The F.Mk II model would be powered by the Bristol Centaurus engine producing an astounding 2,520 horsepower while the F.Mk V would be powered by the 2,180 horsepower Napier Sabre II series engine and the F.Mk VI fitted with the Napier Sabre V of 2,340 horsepower. Of these three planned models, only the Tempest V actually went on to see combat service - entering the stage in 1943 and, at the time, the fastest fighter aircraft in the world - in the Second World War before the conflict's inevitable finale in mid-1945 though the series as a whole would soldier on up to about 1951.
The Tempest retained some visual elements of the original Typhoons. The Tempest II, however, lost the chin radiator mount - a hallmark of the forerunner's look - and moved these into the wing leading edges. Beyond that, all Tempest models featured a slim rounded fuselage with rounded wings and tail surfaces and a four-blade propeller. The undercarriage was retractable (including tail wheel) and the pilot sat at the mid-fuselage position in a bubble canopy.
The Hawker Tempest carried over the armament from the Typhoon in the form of the proven 4 x 20mm Hispano Mk V cannons. This formidable armament could be augmented with the addition of 2,000lbs of external stores as needed. In this way, the Tempest could undertake the fighter-bomber role with ease and still provide the performance of a top-flight fighter in the process. The FB.Mk II ("FB" designating it a "Fighter-Bomber") variant was fitted with pylons for the launching of air-to-surface rockets or drop bombs - 338 examples of this version were reported to have been produced.