Hawker Typhoon

As successful as the Hurricane was, Hawker’s attempt at a follow-on met with quite a bit of trouble, and the whole effort came close to being abandoned. Hawker’s efforts to meet the F.18/37 requirement took two tracks – the first design had a Rolls-Royce Vulture engine, while the second was to be powered by a Napier Sabre. Flight testing of the Vulture-powered Tornado prototype began in early October 1939; this aircraft had a large ventral inlet for the radiator at first, but this was soon replaced by a chin-type intake that would also be adopted by the Typhoon. Three additional Vulture-powered aircraft were built, but the engine’s problems meant that the Tornado would not enter series production. A fourth example, HG641, was built with the Bristol Centaurus, and this helped form the basis for the later Tempest.

The Sabre-engined aircraft, the Typhoon, flew in February 1940 and started to enter service the following year, but even then the type had an uncertain future. There was structural weakness in the rear fuselage that led to in-flight breakups, and the Sabre was far from trouble-free. the fuselage structure was of mixed construction – the aft being monocoque, while the forward section used a tubular girder layout. Although an all-monocoque construction would have been preferable aerodynamically, the girder type section allowed for better maintenance access.

The Typhoon’s structural problems lasted a long time, and resulted in a number of in-flight breakups – an attempted fix by beefing up the join point between the tail and fuselage was not fully successful, and Hawker eventually had to use the larger tailplanes of the Tempest to stop the elevator flutter that was doing the damage.

Despite being the first British fighter that could achieve speeds of over 400mph, the Typhoon would never fufill its intended role as a high altitude interceptor – a sluggish rate of climb helped ensure that. But the type was still a hot ship at low altitude, and the “Tiffie” was a match for the Fw 190 in that regime. And by 1944, the Typhoon was put to work as a fighter-bomber, striking at coastal defenses in preparation for the Overlord invasion. Within weeks of the initial landings, troops had secured the first Allied-held airfields, and Typhoon units were forward deployed to these bases, permitting the aircraft to be rearmed, refueled, and sent back into the fighting quickly. In a tactic that would be familiar to present day US and British forces, Typhoons would loiter at altitude over troops in contact, and when strikes were needed at a particular target, an observer (what today would be called a forward air controller) would then direct a Typhoon attack by radio.

Typhoon Bibliography:

Paul H. Wilkinson "Hawker Typhoon And The Napier Sabre" Aviation August 1941

C.M. Poulsen “The Hawker Typhoon” Flight January 20, 1944 Includes a basic 3-view, two-page cutaway drawing, and structural details.

Jordan Ross “Tropical Typhoon” Scale Modeler January 1974 Building the 1/32 Revell Typhoon. Includes a two-page Typhoon 1B cutaway, and scale plans with cross sections.

Photo (small): Typhoon Mk.1B R7881 with AI Mk IV radar Air International October 1989 p.206

“West Riding Squadron” FlyPast October 1998 Typhoon operations with No 609 Squadron – includes a cockpit photo, and close-up shots of the nose of “Bee” Beaumont’s aircraft, and the underwing RP installation.

“Typhoon Cockpit” FlyPast June 1998 display at D-Day Museum, Shoreham

Review of the 1/72 Tornado kit from LF Models Scale Aviation Modeller November 2003

“Camouflage and Markings: Hawker Typhoon” Air Enthusiast Nov/Dec 2004 p.21 Four color profiles of Typhoon IB/IIBs. Several photos, including prototype aircraft P5212, and the night fighter prototype.

Jay Laverty “Cyclonic Endeavour” Model Airplane International June 2006 Building the 1/32 MDC Typhoon Mk IB kit. Includes two pages of 1/48 scale color profiles.

Bill Gunston Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft of WWII p.109 3-view, profile of a No 198 Squadron aircraft, plus a color picture of a Typhoon being serviced in a revetment.

Bill Gunston New Illustrated Guide to Allied Fighters of World War II Typhoon Mk.IB JR371/No.198 Squadron

Ray Bonds Classic Fighters – The Inside Story p.111 Typhoon Mk IB cutaway drawing

Bill Gusnton Classic World War II Aircraft Cutaways p.118-119: Typhoon IB cutaway, small photo of EK286 in banked flight

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Hawker Tempest