Front view of Hawker Typhoon

Front view of Hawker Typhoon

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Front view of Hawker Typhoon

A frontal view of the Hawker Typhoon, showing the four 20mm cannon and two 1,000lb bombs.

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Hawker Typhoon

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/06/2018 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Hawker Typhoon (affectionate known as the "Tiffie") was initially intended as a dedicated interceptor and set to succeed the 1930's-era Hawker Hurricane and was first drawn up in 1937. The system was designed to a British Air Ministry specification (Specification F.18/37) calling for such an aircraft to accept the new line of Rolls-Royce and Napier 2,000 horsepower engines. The Typhoon was predicted to do just that thanks to the promising Napier 24-cylinder, liquid-cooled 2,000-plus horsepower Sabre engine selected for the airframe. At least on paper, the Typhoon would have given even the fabled Supermarine Spitfire and its legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin engine a run for its money but history would prove otherwise and set the Typhoon on a different course altogether.

As promising as the all-new aircraft was, initial development revealed several key issues with the design, especially of the fuselage construction and the new Sabre engine. First flight was achieved in February of 1940. On May 9th, 1940, a prototype Typhoon recorded a devastating failure of the fuselage at the base of the empennage, just aft of the cockpit, while the Sabre engine suffered many-a-teething problem. The situation became quite complicated to the point that the future of the Typhoon was in jeopardy and the Air Ministry was looking to cancel the project altogether in favor of purchasing American-made Republic P-47 Thunderbolts instead. Only the arrival of the Focke-Wulf 190 "Wurger" series fighter in September of 1941 helped to fuel the Typhoon project as a viable contender to the elusive high-performing German fighter.

Visually, the Typhoon offered a menacing pose. The large under-fuselage chin radiator installation was its most notable identifying physical feature. The scoop sat directly below and behind the propeller spinner and integrated into the lower portion of the fuselage. The pilots cockpit was situated near the middle of the design, above and aft of the wing trailing edge. The fuselage itself was almost tubular in shape and ended in a traditional empennage with a rounded vertical fin. Wings were of a low-monoplane cantilever design and rounded. The undercarriage was traditional with retractable main landing gears and a retractable tail wheel. Construction was mostly of all metal stressed skin.

In its initial form, the Typhoon was to be armed with no fewer than 12 x 7.7mm machine guns (.303 caliber). Though sounding impressive, heavier caliber weapons such as 12.7mm (.50 caliber) heavy machine guns and cannons were becoming the norm on aircraft throughout the war. As such, the Typhoon had its principle weapons suite upgraded to a more formidable array of 4 x 20mm cannon. two to a wing, and identified by the cannon barrel fairings extending from the leading wing edges. The final production Typhoon could further augment this armament through the addition of high-explosive rockets or traditional drop bombs as needed (the latter on two underwing hardpoints).

The cockpit of the Hawker Typhoon required a rather steep climb up. Whereas later versions of the aircraft featured the more traditional sliding bubble canopy, early models were fitted with an automobile-style hinged door ala the Bell Airacobra. These early cockpit designs were also noted for their poor visibility. Though the automobile-style doors made for a more familiar method of entry into the Typhoon cockpit it likewise presented the pilot with an unusual mode of exit should he be faced with the prospect of bailing out of the aircraft. As with some other models of World War Two aircraft, the Hawker Typhoon's cockpit was also susceptible to maintaining high and dangerous levels of carbon monoxide for the pilot to the point that the pilot was practically required to wear his oxygen mask from the moment he started his engine prior to take-off to the moment he had safely landed and powered his engine down. Cockpit noise was also noted as high by former pilots.

Instrumentation was traditional for British aircraft, being of the standardized "flying blind" layout and was regarded as a most convenient arrangement (A standardized cockpit made for a friendlier transition for pilots from trainer to operational aircraft as layouts were relatively identical in most British aircraft to the point that the operator could in fact fly any RAF aircraft without aid from the instruments). The pilot had access to a traditional control column with a circular spade-style grip. The grip offered easy access to the firing button for the 4 x 20mm cannon and a brake control. The throttle handle was set off to the left side of the cockpit and featured conveniently-placed bomb/rocket, flap and undercarriage controls.

Operational Service
Once fielded in August of 1941, the Typhoon met with mixed results. It became the RAF's first 400 mile-per-hour fighter on one hand but on the other, the Napier engine - despite its power - proved quite complex and needed much attention while still being prone to failures in the field. Such was the desire to "make it happen" that the powerplant was debuted before it should have been made officially ready on any platform. The price paid for pure speed was off-set by the aircrafts generally poor rate-of-climb. Additionally, despite being designed as a high-altitude performance interceptor, the Typhoon performed quite poorly at height above medium altitude and surprisingly proved its worth in low to mid-altitude sorties instead. In this way, the Typhoon actually fared better in the role than the Supermarine Spitfire.

As a result, Typhoons became more and more relegated to this role and armed for more conventional ground strike capabilities than intended. The Typhoon could engage ground targets and still offer up competing performance when tangling with German bombers and fighters at this level. More importantly, the marauding Fw-190 low-level attacks across the southern British coast were finally answered with the arrival of the Typhoon as the fighter-bomber proved adept at engaging these small German aircraft on their own terms at their optimal operating altitude. The structural deficiency in the tail design also led to delays and some unfortunate fatalities though this was later addressed temporarily through the use of reinforcement via twenty alloy riveted "fishplates" at the empennage base.

By 1943, the Typhoon was being fitted with air-to-ground rockets and 2 x 250lb bombs underwing. This, coupled with its low-altitude performance, made for an exceptional fighter-bomber hybrid. Typhoons played a large role in disrupting German communications prior to the D-Day landings in both day and night sorties. As the Allied foothold into France increased, so too did the level of Typhoon usage in terms of helping to form new frontlines for the advancing ground forces - Typhoons began operating from French-based airfields and, more importantly, Holland, giving them access to targets on German soil. Typhoons followed the ground fighting through to the end of the war in this role, taking on escort fighter support from Spitfires and Mustangs when needed. Their shellacking of German support elements proved pivotal in the strategic pushes that would ultimately lead to the Allied victory. No German target proved safe from the cannons, bombs and rockets of the Typhoon - be it ammunition stores, vehicles, train yards or ground forces themselves. By the end of the war, some 3,300 Typhoons were produced. Despite these numbers, they became all but extinct with the arrival of the jet age in the post-war world. Typhoons were removed from service as soon as 1946. At the height of its use, the Typhoon made up 26 total squadrons - pretty impressive considering the design was almost laid to rest during its development.

Aircraft such as the Typhoon are wonders in wartime. Their initial designs are often rigged for failure from the outset only to have the ever-changing face of warfare force a new role-player to be added to the ranks. Such was the case with the Hawker Typhoon that, in all respects, it was actually a successful aircraft despite the design's drawbacks and limitations. The RAF had taken notice of the platforms capabilities and fielded it accordingly. By the time the Germans took note, it was all but too late for the Reich.

The Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group has engaged the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARCo) to provide engineering support and oversight for the restoration to flight of Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB RB396 . This marks the most significant development to date in the Group’s drive to revive an airworthy Typhoon. Co-trustees Sam Worthington-Leese and Dave Robinson announced the collaboration at the Group’s open day on Sunday, 28 October 2018 in front of more than 150 registered supporters.

ARCo’s Managing Director John Romain will assist the Group with the sub-contracting of restoration work to leading workshops across the UK, with the assistance and coordination of the Group. It is anticipated that numerous highly regarded workshops will be utilised for the build, including Airframe Assemblies, Air Leasing, B&B Aero, Retrotec and Hawker Restorations. Once the respective parts have been rebuilt to airworthy condition, ARCo will be responsible for the final assembly and testing of the completed Typhoon. ARCo has been involved in numerous high-profile award-winning restorations over the years, with Spitfire PR.XI PL983 and Westland Lysander V9312 being their most recent long-term projects to fly.

Subject to the securement of funding, the Group anticipates that the announcement of their preferred workshop and commencement of the restoration of the Typhoon’s rear fuselage monocoque may be able to commence within a matter of months, utilising an extant Hawker Tempest jig. As the funding drive continues, it is expected that B&B Aero will restore the Typhoon’s tail section, whilst Airframe Assemblies on the Isle of Wight will likely be responsible for the monumental task of reproducing the aircraft’s wings, rudder and elevators. It is hoped that as the build progresses, completed components will be displayed at the Group’s storage facility in Uckfield, East Sussex, and at airshows across the UK.

For the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group, a UK registered charity, this milestone is the culmination of almost two decades of intensive work, much of it behind the scenes, with a view to facilitating the restoration of a Hawker Typhoon to flying condition. Just one complete Typhoon remains of the 3,317 manufactured, and is owned by the Royal Air Force Museum. With the Second Tactical Air Force the Typhoon was instrumental in supporting the Allied forces before, during and after the Normandy landings, and worked closely with ground forces during the breakout from northern France and the push into Germany.

Sam Worthington-Leese’s involvement has been instrumental to getting to Group to this point. His grandfather, P/O Roy G. Worthington, flew Typhoons from RAF Westhampnett (now Goodwood Aerodrome) with No 184 Squadron in support of the Allied invasion of occupied Europe. Downed during a fighter sweep over the Netherlands and captured by the Germans on Sunday, 21 May 1944, P/O Worthington spent the rest of the war incarcerated at Stalag Luft III. Now, his grandson is leading the movement to restore a Hawker Typhoon to flying condition as an enduring, living memorial to the aircraft’s oft forgotten crews.

“I loved aircraft and didn’t know why”, Sam says as he reflects on a childhood spent visiting airshows with his parents, a growing interest in the Second World War era leading to the discovery and exploration of his grandfather’s colourful Royal Air Force career. He followed suit, taking to gliding in 2006 prior to joining the air force in 2009. Budget cuts arising from the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010 eventually put paid to his aspirations, the resulting reduncancy steering him towards the vintage aviation scene three years hence. A stint as an instructor on de Havilland Tiger Moths and Stampes at Shoreham followed, before a move to Goodwood aerodrome delivered the opportunity to fly and latterly instruct on the North American T-6 with the Goodwood Aero Club for several years. Sam also became the first non ‘Qualified Service Pilot’ to be asked to fly with Ultimate High, one of the country’s leading aerobatic, formation and flight safety training schools. “It very quickly dawned on me that I had flown two of the aircraft my grandfather trained on. Flying the T-6 from the same airfield he flew from 70 years ago gave me chills.”

Taking to the internet to further research his grandfather’s service history, Sam came across a post from a Dutch enthusiast on an obscure historic aviation forum citing that he had visited P/O Worthington’s crash site and recovered parts of his Typhoon, which had been stored in his barn for decades. After much back and forth, the enthusiast sent Sam a number of parts from his grandfather’s Typhoon, including a light fitting, Bakelite fuse box and the throttle or mixture bell crank. “I look at the light fitting and think, he would have physically turned that on and off”, he says. “It’s nice to have that tangible, almost physical connection.”

Roy Worthington died when Sam was just 4 years old. Sat beside his grandson’s desk at the project’s Uckfield base unit is a small home-made wooden case displaying his medals, Caterpillar Club badge and a service photograph. As the project gathers pace and the workload broadens exponentially, that family memorabilia keeps the personal link ever-present. “Helping to revive a Typhoon will never make up for not really knowing him, but to have that link is special. Parts of his Typhoon will go into this aircraft, and it will be ‘his’ to an extent. That’s really my reason for doing it. It does make me feel a little closer to him.”

Dave Robinson had been trawling the continent for Typhoon wrecks for years with a view to restoring a replica cockpit. In 1999 Dave moved close to the old base at RAF Lichfield, former home to a busy Typhoon Maintenance Unit where many of the type were broken down at the end of their service life, and his interested in the aircraft piqued. Accordingly, he has been collecting parts and other materials for years, most significantly some 11,500 technical drawings found in a skip sat at the site of the Hawker factory in Kingston-upon-Thames. This, combined with the discovery of the wreck of Typhoon Mk.IB RB396 on the continent, set his aspirations in another direction and he planned to collate enough data to restore a complete Typhoon. His search for more information on the Typhoon brought him into contact with Sam via the aforementioned aviation forum in 2014, their association eventually leading to the formation of the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group as we know it in early 2016 and the pledge to raise funds to rebuild RB396 to flying condition.

To date, the focus has very much been on collating both physical components and technical knowledge of the aeroplane. Dave has been actively seeking Typhoon wrecks and remnants for nearly 20 years and has provided the backbone of the charity’s assets to date. The original Typhoon technical drawings he holds will doubtless be instrumental in the aircraft’s restoration. Substantial amounts of Typhoon parts have been acquired, donated and loaned to the project, including a largely complete cockpit section from Typhoon EJ922, wing sections, three firewalls, engine mounts, several sets of NOS undercarriage legs and numerous boxes of tubing, brackets and myriad other components.

A significant development in autumn 2017 was the outright purchase of the four-bladed spinner (believed to be the only original in existence) and rear fuselage of a Hawker Tempest (comprising a complete monocoque, tail empennage and rudder) following a successful fundraising appeal that generated donations to the sound of an impressive £80,000 in just one week – a testament, it’s fair to say, to the wide-reaching support Sam and Dave have enjoyed to date.

The most substantial components belong to Typhoon RB396, the sole confirmed surviving combat veteran of its type and the aircraft whose identity will live on in the restored aeroplane. With his Typhoon critically damaged by enemy fire, No 174 Squadron pilot Flt Lt Chris W. House carried out a forced landing in RB396 north-east of Denekamp, the Netherlands on 1 April 1945. Flt Lt House evaded capture in occupied territory, returning to his squadron on 5 April. The airframe found its way to a chemical company before recovery to Twenthe that museum’s closure saw RB396 moved to the Luchtoorlogmuseum (Aerial War Museum) at Fort Veldhuis where a keen-eyed staff member brought Dave’s efforts to the museum’s attention. A year of negotiations and discussions with the aircraft’s custodian and the museum culminated in the acquisition and recovery of the aircraft to the UK in May 2013, and it now forms the centrepiece of the project’s monthly open days.

It is hoped that significant sections of RB396 can be incorporated into the restored Typhoon. This will allow it to carry the stories of Flt Lt House and its other pilots into the future. Canadian Frank Johnson flew RB396 on 33 occasions from 13 January 1945 to 28 March 1945 and inscribed his wife Sheila’s name on its port cowling. He was shot down on 30 March 1945 and became a prisoner of war Johnson survived the war, and died peacefully in September 2017. One of RB396’s pilots is still with us – Sidney Russell-Smith flew this Typhoon just once, but endures as a living link between the past and present.

The heart of the Typhoon, and the real key to the restoration project, is the Napier Sabre engine. The 24-cylinder, 2200hp Sabre Mk.IIa is synonymous with the Typhoon and securing the engine in early 2017 was perhaps the charity’s most significant milestone at that point. This Sabre is a zero-timed engine inhibited shortly after the Second World War, used as a training aid by Cranfield University and loaned on a long-term basis to the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust in Derby. Securing the engine took more than ten years of negotiation between Dave Robinson and the engine’s respective custodians, culminating in positive high-level meetings with the Head of Aerospace at Cranfield University. The engine now sits under the Group’s care. Sam adds, “We haven’t looked inside the engine yet, but it weighs what it should weigh and we’re confident it’s a complete engine. It will need a full overhaul, possibly not even a full rebuild, in order for it to be mated to the restored airframe and we’ll be engaging with a leading vintage engine restorer to progress with that once we are in a position to do so financially. We are also following up on further Sabres with a view to acquiring them in future.

“The workshops we spoke to anticipated £4-6 million for the full Typhoon rebuild, and around five years from start to finish if money was no issue”, Sam explains. “We are aiming to have the aircraft flying for the D-Day 80th anniversary in 2024, but that isn’t a hard deadline – we won’t just give up if that isn’t achievable, but it’s nice to have a date to work towards. Once we start building we’re hopeful that people will see that this restoration is really happening, which should translate to more donations”.

The proposal is to display the restored serviceable components at the Typhoon project’s storage unit, allowing visitors to see the tangible benefits of their membership during regular open days. Dedicated fundraising drives for other sections and components are set to follow sequentially. Sam continues, “We appreciate the value of having parts on show, we don’t just want to farm the whole aircraft off in one go. We can work out a way for people to see the restoration as it progresses. We also realised with the Supporters’ Club that nowadays people tend to not just donate money they want something back, and they may want to be more involved. We’re very lucky to have a strong base of volunteers who have offered their support since day one and we hope to find ways to utilise them, to some extent, in the restoration, be it through sorting boxes of parts, cataloguing components or physically supporting us at shows and events, raising vital funds and awareness.”

The project has grown exponentially with more than 1100 Supporters’ Club members and approaching half a million pounds raised through fundraising appeals since the charity formed in May 2016. “As an entity in the public eye, the launch on 29 October 2016 put us on the map in terms of support and visibility”, says Sam. “It’s really nice seeing our caps and t-shirts at airshows and events as it spreads the word even further”, he continues. Since 2016, the group’s reach has spread across the world with increasing support from North American, New Zealand, French, Dutch and Belgian enthusiasts in particular, many of whom have already pledged to visit the UK to see the Typhoon fly. “I went to Wanaka, New Zealand in 2016 and wore a project cap, and had people coming up who recognised the logo and knew about what we’re doing. During my visit to Normandy in June 2017, a guy walked past me at Arromanches wearing one of our caps and I saw a guy in our polo shirt at Merville. He was from Belgium, and later made a day trip to the UK for our open house in October 2017, just to see how the project has developed first-hand. That’s a level of commitment we certainly didn’t expect to see at this stage.”

Unprecedented support has translated into significant income through memberships and merchandise sales. Airshow appearances proved incredibly popular, particularly so the charity’s major presence at the renowed Flying Legends airshow. Rapid growth, whilst vital to the project’s progression at this stage, does bring a whole raft of challenges that the team will be tackling over the next few months. “It’s not sustainable to keep the project expanding at the rate it is without bringing on board full-time staff”, says Sam. As of early 2018, Sam and David have shouldered responsibility for all aspects of project management, whilst supporters have been offered invaluable voluntary labour. That has amounted to effectively a full-time job for both co-trustees, Dave alone typically processing north of 400 e-mails a week and dedicating several hours per night to the project. In time, a number of posts and jobs will be filled by volunteers who will call upon their day-to-day expertise to support the project.

Looking to the long-term, a business plan is in the works to lay out the operation’s growth and provide solid financial projections to sustain both the restoration and, all being well, the operation of the Typhoon as an airworthy aircraft on the European airshow circuit. Fundraising proposals for businesses and individuals are also in development. In the event that RB396 flies, insurance and maintenance will unquestionably run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds and the charity is working on cash flow forecasts to determine the extent to which it will be able to wash its face year-by-year through a combination of membership applications, merchandise sales and sponsorship.

“Back when I first met Dave and we talked about maybe one day getting a Typhoon flying, it felt like a pipe dream”, reflects Sam. “Looking at what we’ve achieved with the support of so many people, it’s feeling like less and less of a pipe dream. The personal angle is what keeps me going, and the knowledge that if we don’t do it, it’s unlikely anyone else will. The Typhoon’s been forgotten. You say the name now and everyone thinks you’re talking about the Eurofighter. That isn’t fair on the people who built it, flew it, maintained it and operated it.” Since joining Project RB396, Sam has had the fortune of meeting six surviving Typhoon pilots. The experience, he says, is humbling. “You read these stories about 19-year olds going off and doing incredible things. I looked through Bernard Gardiner’s log book and the entries are so brief but so rich. ‘Close air support. Attacked a train. Beat up a barge. Flak was heavy. 20 minutes’. And it’s the guy sitting opposite you at 95-years old. It’s hard to comprehend that it’s the same person. Those meetings have made the whole project worthwhile, in all honesty.

“We see it as hugely important to recreate this aircraft – we’re getting towards the time where there won’t be a living generational link, and all those stories will be lost. Even if we just got to the stage of having a memorial to those people, that would be significant – to get a Typhoon flying would be the ultimate memorial, bringing the aircraft to the forefront like never before. We hope our association with ARCo is a further step towards achieving that.”

Operational service

Introduction: The Typhoon becomes a low-level interceptor

In 1941 the Spitfire Vs which equipped the bulk of Fighter Command squadrons were outclassed by the new Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and suffered many losses. The Typhoon was rushed into service with Nos. 56 and 609 Squadrons in late 1941, to counter the Fw 190. This decision proved to be a disaster and several Typhoons were lost to unknown causes and the Air Ministry began to consider halting production of the Type.

In August 1942, Hawker’s second test pilot, Ken Seth-Smith, while deputising for Chief Test Pilot Philip Lucas, carried out a straight and level speed test from Hawker’s test centre at Langley, and the aircraft broke up over Thorpe, killing the pilot. Sydney Camm and the design team immediately ruled out pilot error, which had been suspected in earlier crashes. Investigation revealed that the elevator mass-balance had torn away from the fuselage structure and intense flutter developed, the structure failed and the tail broke away. Modification 286 to the structure and the control runs partially solved the structural problem. (The 1940 Philip Lucas test flight incident had been due to an unrelated failing.) Mod 286, which involved fastening external fishplates, or reinforcing plates, around the tail of the aircraft, and eventually internal strengthening, was a partial remedy, and there were still failures right up to the end of the Typhoon's service life. The Sabre engine was also a constant source of problems, notably in colder weather, when it was very difficult to start, and it suffered problems with wear of its sleeve valves and the resulting high oil consumption. The 24 cylinder engine also produced a very high-pitched engine note, which pilots found very fatiguing.

The Typhoon did not begin to mature as a reliable aircraft until the end of 1942, when its excellent qualities—seen from the start by S/L Roland Beamont of 609 Squadron—became apparent. Beamont had worked as a Hawker production test pilot while resting from operations and had stayed with Seth-Smith, having his first flight in the aircraft at that time. During late 1942 and early 1943 the Typhoon squadrons were based on airfields near the south and south-east coasts of England and, alongside two Spitfire XII squadrons, countered the Luftwaffe ' s "tip and run" low-level nuisance raids, shooting down a score or more bomb-carrying Fw 190s. Typhoon squadrons kept at least one pair of aircraft on standing patrols over the South coast, with another pair kept at "readiness" (ready to take off within two minutes) throughout daylight hours. These sections of Typhoons flew at 500 feet or lower, with enough height to spot and then intercept the incoming enemy fighter-bombers. The Typhoon finally proved itself in this role for example, while flying patrols against these low-level raids, 486(NZ) Squadron claimed 20 fighter-bombers, plus three bombers shot down between mid-October 1942 and mid-July 1943. [27] [nb 6]

The first two Messerschmitt Me 210 fighter-bombers to be destroyed over the British Isles fell to the guns of Typhoons in August 1942. [29] During a daylight raid by the Luftwaffe on London on 20 January 1943, four Bf 109G-4s and one Fw 190A-4 of JG 26 were destroyed by Typhoons. [30] As soon as the aircraft entered service, it was apparent the profile of the Typhoon resembled a Fw 190 from some angles, which caused more than one friendly fire incident, with Allied anti-aircraft units and other fighters. This led to Typhoons first being marked up with all-white noses, and later with high visibility black and white stripes under the wings, a precursor of the markings applied to all Allied aircraft on D-Day.

Switch to ground attack

By 1943, the RAF needed a ground attack fighter more than a "pure" fighter and the Typhoon was suited to the role (and less-suited to the pure fighter role than competing aircraft such as the Spitfire Mk IV). The powerful engine allowed the aircraft to carry a load of up to two 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs, equal to the light bombers of only a few years earlier. The bomb-equipped aircraft were nicknamed "Bombphoons" and entered service with No. 181 Squadron, formed in September 1942. [31] [nb 7]

From September 1943, Typhoons were also armed with four "60 lb" RP-3 rockets under each wing. [nb 8] In October 1943, No. 181 Squadron made the first Typhoon rocket attacks. Although the rocket projectiles were inaccurate and took considerable skill to aim and allow for ballistic drop after firing, "the sheer firepower of just one Typhoon was equivalent to a destroyer's broadside." [33] By the end of 1943, 18 rocket-equipped Typhoon squadrons formed the basis of the RAF Second Tactical Air Force (2nd TAF) ground attack arm in Europe. In theory, the rocket rails and bomb-racks were interchangeable in practice, to simplify supply, some 2nd TAF Typhoon squadrons (such as 198 Squadron) used the rockets only, while other squadrons were armed exclusively with bombs (this also allowed individual units to more finely hone their skills with their assigned weapons). [34]

By the Normandy landings in June 1944, 2 TAF had 18 operational squadrons of Typhoon IBs, while Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) had a further nine. [35] The aircraft proved itself to be the most effective RAF tactical strike aircraft, on interdiction raids against communications and transport targets deep in North Western Europe prior to the invasion and in direct support of the Allied ground forces after D-Day. A system of close liaison with the ground troops was set up by the RAF and army: RAF radio operators in vehicles equipped with VHF R/T travelled with the troops close to the front line and called up Typhoons operating in a "Cab Rank", which attacked the targets, marked for them by smoke shells fired by mortar or artillery, until they were destroyed. [36]

Against some of the Wehrmacht's heavier tanks, the rockets needed to hit the thin-walled engine compartment or the tracks to have any chance of destroying or disabling the tank. Analysis of destroyed tanks after the Normandy battle showed a "hit-rate" for the air-fired rockets of only 4%. [37] In Operation Goodwood (18 to 21 July), the 2nd Tactical Air Force claimed 257 tanks destroyed. [nb 9] A total of 222 were claimed by Typhoon pilots using rocket projectiles. [38] Once the area was secured, the British "Operational Research Section 2" analysts could confirm only ten out of the 456 knocked out German AFVs found in the area were attributable to Typhoons using rocket projectiles. [38] [39]

At Mortain, in the Falaise pocket, a German counter-attack that started on 7 August threatened Patton's break-out from the beachhead this counter-attack was repulsed by 2nd Tactical Air Force Typhoons and the 9th USAAF. During the course of the battle, pilots of the 2nd Tactical Air Force and 9th USAAF claimed to have destroyed a combined total of 252 tanks. [40] Only 177 German tanks and assault guns participated in the battle and only 46 were lost – of which nine were verified as destroyed by Typhoons, four percent of the total claimed. [41]

The effect on morale of the German troops caught up in a Typhoon RP and cannon attack were decisive, with many tanks and vehicles being abandoned, in spite of superficial damage, such that a signal from the German Army's Chief of Staff stated that the attack had been brought to a standstill by 13:00 '. due to the employment of fighter-bombers by the enemy, and the absence of our own air-support.' [42] The 20 mm cannon also destroyed a large number of (unarmoured) support vehicles, laden with fuel and ammunition for the armoured vehicles. [43] On 10 July at Mortain, flying in support of the US 30th Infantry Division, Typhoons flew 294 sorties in the afternoon that day, firing 2,088 rockets and dropping 80 short tons (73 t) of bombs. [44] They engaged the German formations while the US 9th Air Force prevented German fighters from intervening. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, said of the Typhoons "The chief credit in smashing the enemy's spearhead, however, must go to the rocket-firing Typhoon aircraft of the Second Tactical Air Force. The result of the strafing was that the enemy attack was effectively brought to a halt, and a threat was turned into a great victory." [45]

Another form of attack carried out by Typhoons was "Cloak and Dagger" operations, using intelligence sources to target German HQs. One of the most effective of these was carried out on 24 October 1944, when 146 Typhoon Wing attacked a building in Dordrecht, where senior members of the German 15th Army staff were meeting 17 staff officers and 36 other officers were killed and the operations of the 15th Army were adversely affected for some time afterwards. [46]

On 24 March 1945, over 400 Typhoons were sent on several sorties each, to suppress German anti-aircraft guns and Wehrmacht resistance to Operation Varsity, the Allied crossing of the Rhine that involved two full divisions of 16,600 troops and 1,770 gliders sent across the river. On 3 May 1945, the Cap Arcona, the Thielbek and the Deutschland, large passenger ships in peacetime now in military service, were sunk in four attacks by RAF Hawker Typhoon 1Bs of No. 83 Group RAF, 2nd Tactical Air Force: the first by 184 Squadron, second by 198 Squadron led by Wing Commander John Robert Baldwin, the third by 263 Squadron led by Squadron Leader Martin T. S. Rumbold and the fourth by 197 Squadron led by Squadron Leader K. J. Harding. [47]

The top-scoring Typhoon ace was Group Captain J. R. Baldwin (609 Squadron and Commanding Officer 198 Squadron, 146 (Typhoon) Wing and 123 (Typhoon) Wing), who claimed 15 aircraft shot down from 1942 to 1944. Some 246 Axis aircraft were claimed by Typhoon pilots during the war. [48]

3,317 Typhoons were built, almost all by Gloster. Hawker developed what was originally an improved Typhoon II, but the differences between it and the Mk I were so great that it was effectively a different aircraft, and was renamed the Hawker Tempest. Once the war in Europe was over Typhoons were quickly removed from front-line squadrons by October 1945 the Typhoon was no longer in operational use, with many of the wartime Typhoon units such as 198 Squadron being either disbanded or renumbered. [49] [50]

Captured Typhoons

By 1943, with its change of role to ground attack, the Typhoon was constantly operating over enemy territory: inevitably some flyable examples were to fall into German hands. The first Typhoon to be flown by the Luftwaffe was EJ956 SA-I of 486 (NZ) Sqn. On 23 March 1943, two aircraft flown by F/O Smith and F/S Mawson were on a "Rhubarb" over France. [nb 10] Just as they were crossing the coast at low altitude, Mawson's Typhoon was hit by light flak. He managed to belly-land in a field near Cany-Barville but the aircraft was captured before he could destroy it. The Typhoon was repaired and test flown at Rechlin (a German equivalent to RAE Farnborough), and later served as T9+GK with "Zirkus Rosarius". EJ956 overturned and was written off during a forced landing near Meckelfeld, on 10 August 1944. [26] [51] On 14 February 1944, another Typhoon was captured and later flown in Zirkus Rosarius. JP548 of 174 Squadron, force landed after engine failure near Blois, France the pilot, F/O Proddow evaded capture. This Typhoon crashed at Reinsehlen on 29 July 1944, killing Feldwebel Gold. [26]

Revell 1/32 Hawker Typhoon 1B (Car Door)

The following write up is based on the Revell kit. At first glance, when compared to other products from this manufacturer of the same era, the kit seems to be superior, having greater detail, a better fit and more accuracy. However, being a detailing freak, I still put in lots of work. As I progressed, the defects and areas requiring considerable amounts of work became apparent and the conclusion is that my dream of building a 1/32nd scale kit of a World War II fighter with relative ease to the standard I desire has yet to be achieved. I hope to satisfy this wish during the coming millennium. Even if one decides to build a standard kit without exposing any hidden parts, the main visible areas such as the wheel bays and cockpit require a mayor reworking.

The sequence I followed when building this model was as follows:

  • Scribing the whole kit.
  • Detailing the engine.
  • Detailing the cockpit.
  • Detailing the fuselage halves and tail wheel area.
  • Gluing the fuselage halves together with the engine and cockpit assemblies included.
  • Installation of tail planes.
  • Detailing of wheel bays and gun bay.
  • Installation of wings onto the fuselage.
  • Painting and Decals.
  • Canopy, undercarriage, flaps and other final details.

In order to further understand the work involved in building the model and the detail included, it would be advisable to have in hand at least some of the literature mentioned in the references section when reading this article. The various equipment and components added to the models would then be recognisable.

The first step taken after opening the box and inspecting the kit for its general accuracy was the very laborious and tedious task of scribing the whole kit. When scribing, the kit panel lines are retained as a guide where accurate until the new lines are scribed. Missing panel lines are added on as necessary and any inaccuracies corrected. Each scribed section is then sanded down with 1200 gauge wet sandpaper to remove the raised panel lines. This operation, in my opinion is a necessary waste of time. Scribing the kit takes up a lot of time and you have nothing constructive to show at the end. Your effort only shows up when painting the model.

The most boring stage in modelling is now over. Let the fun begin!!



The Napier Sabre 24 cylinder engine used on the Typhoon was truly an awesome monster to behold and to model. It is a very complicated piece of machinery which however looks as powerful as it really was. The kit comes with a removable side panel which reveals a highly inaccurate engine. I decided to expose the upper half of the engine, uncovering as far as the exhaust pipes. The removable panel was therefore fixed in place and the top half of both fuselage sides cut off. The two removed pieces were then glued together to form one whole cover. Although I always try to detail the engine of any of the models I build, exposing too much of it may ruin the streamlining and look of the aircraft. I therefore settled on the upper half, retaining the cowl cover and modifying it so that it may fit in place if so desired. Apart from these considerations, there are numerous photos showing Typhoons and Tempests with this panel removed. It is therefore a realistic state in which to depict the model.

The kit's engine was assembled as per instructions, including the radiator housing. The first modifications to be made were to the cylinder head tops and the top left and right sides of the engine. These were covered with plastic card to form two box-like structures. I then replaced the cylinder head tops (junkheads). These were made from aluminium tubing cut into thin slices and pressed to shape. Sparking plug inserts for the high tension leads were made from thin plastic tubing. The main components on the top part of the engine were then added. These include the starter, hydraulic pump, compressor, magnetos, crankcase breather and distributor. They are basically box or cylindrically shaped components and were all made from plastic tubing and bits of plastic.

The next main step when constructing the engine was the replacement of the exhaust pipe ends. The kit comes with circular exhaust stacks. These should be oval in shape. These were made from aluminium tubing which was flattened to shape and filed down to decrease their thickness. The part of the exhaust stacks closest to the engine were retained and only the ends replaced. These were press fitted onto the plastic stubs and then glued so that they would not easily fall off. A bit of filler completed the job.

Since I did not know exactly what parts of the engine would be visible through the gap between the engine sides and the fuselage and also from the radiator cooling flap, I proceeded with duplicating an amount of detail on the underside of the engine which was mostly superfluous. This included pipes running from the coolant tank to the rear of the engine, engine bearers and coolant pipes running from the radiators to the firewall. These were made from plastic tubing bent to shape and covered with strips of masking tape which when overlapped will simulate pipe lagging.

Now for the main air duct. The size and shape of the duct supplied in the kit is completely wrong and this was rebuilt from Milliput. This has to be much larger and protrudes prominently from the underside of the aircraft. A slot was also made through its bottom to accommodate the radiator flap actuating piston which passes right through it. The radiator itself as supplied is very small. This was cut up and widened as shown. The two sides were used and the rest of the unit was built up from plastic. The front part of the radiator was extended to fill in the whole opening in the fuselage. The central portion was opened up and the annular air intake constructed from plastic tubes.

>Details were then added on the firewall. These included bits of equipment, pipes and wires and also the fastening eyes for the engine covers. Engine bearers running from the main horizontal supports to the firewall were also constructed. Due to the complexity of the engine and the vast amount of pipes and wiring involved, I decided to paint the basic engine before going on to add further detail.(plate 2)

Additional layers of pipes and wires were added on progressively, each time painting the completed details before adding on more and partially obstructing the previous ones. This is the only method which allows for the proper painting of all the various details included in the engine. In order to avoid disappointing accidents where pipes or wiring would be knocked off, the ends of all these were glued to the various locations on the engine in pre-drilled holes. Final repeated washes and dry brushing completed the engine. The last detail to be added on was the circular bracket passing over the top of the engine to which are attached another set of fastening eyes for the engine fuselage cover. Fastening eyes were made from small blocks of plastic which were then drilled. Clips for wiring and pipes were made from surgical blade covers. These are made from a soft malleable material which is easily cut into very thin strips and wound around the pipes and wires to simulate clips. This technique was applied throughout the model wherever wiring clips were required.

The next step was to fit the engine into its bay in the fuselage. After adding on all the details, it immediately became apparent that both the forward fuselage sides and the engine top cover need to be sanded down and made as thin as possible. Then and only then will the engine fit properly in its place and one may also cover it using the kit's part which also requires a lot of sanding and filing to render the plastic as thin as possible without disintegrating. As soon as the engine was fitted in the fuselage, it became evident that any detailing works below the exhaust pipes are completely lost from view.

The monster was therefore vanquished. On to the fuselage.


The fuselage was checked for accuracy against 1/32nd scale plans and enlarged 1/72nd scale plans. No particular defects were noted and I next proceeded to detail the interior. The tail wheel area was detailed using plastic card. Although most of this detail is not visible, a bulkhead and enclosure were constructed together with guide rails along which the tail wheel slides to be retracted. The actuating piston for the wheel retraction was ignored since this would not be visible through the tail wheel opening.

The cockpit area of both fuselage halves was detailed next. Internal framing was then made from plastic strip. Wiring and other items of equipment were then added onto the fuselage halves in the area just beneath the windshield. These were made from bits of plastic, and copper wire. I find that the brass frets from photo etched sets come in handy when producing fine handles, clips, levers and retaining brackets. Such fine detail can be produced which would be impossible to make from bits of plastic since these would be too thick and would look very unrealistic. The thin, easily bent pieces of brass, on the other hand are excellent for such fine detail. Thus, the fuselage halves were complete and set aside. On to another major task, the cockpit.

Cockpit Area and Canopy

The Typhoon cockpit, like all Hawker fighters of the time, was built around a tubular structure. All items making up the cockpit such as the instrument panel, side consoles and equipment, wiring and even the seat and armour were then attached to this tubular supporting framework. When building my model, I duplicated this framework and then fixed all the cockpit accessories onto it as in the real thing. This allowed me to end up with a complete detailed cockpit which I then fitted into the fuselage.

Only the side framing is supplied with the kit as two separate parts. These are meant to be fixed onto the fuselage sides. These were in fact used but joined together with other plastic tubing to form the whole cockpit support structure. At this point, it is imperative that the fit of the cockpit structure within the fuselage is constantly checked so as to leave space for the wheel wells when the wing structure which includes a complete centre section in fitted onto the fuselage. The tubing was pinned and glued together for additional strength. The kit cockpit floor is one complete part. This was in fact two long strips forming foot rests in line with the rudder pedals. They were cut out from the kit part and fixed to the tubular floor supports. The rudder bar and pedals were produced from copper wire and plastic. Wiring was then made from copper and secured with clips to the cockpit framing. As mentioned previously, clips were made from surgical blades' packets which are made from a very soft thin sheeting.

The left hand side console was constructed next. This includes various switches and controls which were made from copper wire. The seat height adjustment lever and foot pedals for operating the brakes were also made at this stage. The left hand side details were produced next. These include the trim wheel and throttle controls. All these accessories were made from plastic and brass. The seat mounting brackets were also included at this stage. The pilot's rear armour plating was cut out from plastic sheet and glued in place to the tubular frames behind the seat.

The next step was to construct the control column, pilot's seat and front lower bulkhead. The control column was scratch built from copper, plastic and aluminium. The seat supplied with the kit is completely inaccurate and this was discarded. A new seat was built out of plastic card and copper wire. This was made to fit into the supporting brackets already installed on the cockpit framing. The lower front bulkhead was also constructed from plastic sheet. Details on this included plumbing and wiring and also a number of fuse boxes. It is sad to think that once installed inside the aircraft, most of this detail did not show. However, during the construction stage, I am never too sure what will show so I always include that extra bit of detail.

The instrument panel and side consoles were made from plastic card. Instrument bezels consist of thin slices of aluminium and copper tubing. Pieces of plastic and brass were used to complete the details on the consoles. These were then sprayed in at least two shades of grey and black. The instrument faces were then painted by hand using a 00 brush and copying details off a photograph. Glass instrument faces are made with Crystal Clear. If I had to do it again, I would use etched bezels from any range such as Re-Heat. One would require a mixture of 1/32nd and 1/48 scale bezels.

The separate assemblies (cockpit framing, seat, bulkhead, control column and instrument panel) were individually painted. When dry, the whole cockpit was assembled. Photo etched seat belts from Teknics were painted and fixed in place. As an aside, I must say that these are made of stainless steel and are very difficult to bend and keep in place. Brass is a much better medium to work in and it is far more possible to obtain a realistic end result since the steel tends to remain stiff and not hang loose. The compass and its supporting frame were scratch built from plastic tubing, aluminium and brass fret.

The next step involves the gluing together of the fuselage halves. The Typhoon takes shape. It finally begins to look like an aircraft after hours of work.


The engine assembly was installed in the fuselage. This together with the cockpit and tail wheel assembly were fixed to one of the fuselage halves. Both halves were then glued together. An extra plastic circular piece was added on the nose of the aircraft behind the propeller spinner. This was then sanded down until its surface was at right angles to the central axis of the aircraft, a defect which became apparent when both fuselage halves were fixed together. The propeller shaft forming part of the fuselage was replaced by a copper tube of larger diameter. An aluminium band complete with fixing eyes for the top cover was fitted to the front end just behind the spinner. This was made from sheet aluminium which I like to use in such cases. Sheet aluminium may be sanded down till very thin and then cut to shape. Fastening holes were then drilled to match with the cowl cover fasteners' position. The cowl cover was also modified to fit snugly over the engine and flush with the rest of the fuselage. Strips of plastic were added to its edges and then sanded down. These made good any alignment defects and also made up for the amount of plastic lost to the thickness of the saw blade when the cover was cut away from the rest of the fuselage.

The fish plates supporting the tail section of the Typhoon were shown as raised lines on the kit. These were cut out from thin plastic card using an Eduard template and stuck in place on the kit. They were then sanded down to a very thin profile.

The radiator cooling flap on the lower side of the cowling was cut off and replaced by a thin plastic sheet which was fixed in the open position. To this was attached a brass bracket bearing the flap actuating piston, the latter made from copper wire passed through a length of brass tubing. This piston passes through the slot prepared in the air intake which is made from Milliput as explained above.

The last modification on the fuselage concerns the tail section. The fin was cut off from the rest of the fuselage. A piece of plastic rod was glued on to its leading edge so that this was later fitted on in a displaced position. I was careful not to ruin the detail on the fin when cutting out and sanding down the rod on the leading edge. The actuators for the fin and trim tab were made from copper wire and fuse wire respectively. Fuse wire may be bought to different thickness. This is easily cut and bent into shape.

On to the wings. What's a plane without its wings!!


Wing installation commenced from the lower section. This had already been scribed beforehand and prominent fasteners on some of the underside panels were made using a filed hypodermic needle to produce neat little circles. At this stage, I also cut out the landing flaps which I wanted to detail when in the lowered position. This section of the kit had to be modified in the air intake area to fit around the greatly enlarged intake. It was therefore carefully cut and sanded till the exact fit was obtained. Only then could this be fixed in place. One very awkward area to finish neatly was the joint of this section to the fuselage in the radiator area. This was eventually duly filled and sanded down to make the joint invisible but it took quite an effort to work between the side walls and the air intake without damaging the latter.


The part of the wing housing the flaps was duly modified. The large flap in fact consists of two portions which overlap and accommodate the different angles of the wing inner and outer sections. The upper wing exposed part was lined with thin plastic card. These do not meet but there is a gap in between coinciding with the change in the wing angle. The front edge of this space is rounded and this was produced by cutting a section of aluminium tubing length wise, fixing in place and sanding off till flush with the top and bottom wing halves. The sides were also closed off with plastic card and holes prepared to accommodate the flaps' shaft. Care was taken to sand down the wing trailing edge to a fine thickness.

Flaps were scratch built from thin gauge plastic card. Thicker card was used to make the ribbing. These were individually produced but pre drilled to take the shaft running through the whole flap. The latter was made from copper rod. The socket connecting the shafts for both flaps and the bearings for the flaps were made from aluminium tubing which fitted snugly on the outside of the copper rod. The rib spacing was taken off scale plans and checked against a head on photograph showing the lowered flap.

Wheel Wells

The next area to be detailed was the wheel wells. I must admit that this was the most difficult because of a total lack of information and photographs. I shall also say that some of the details from the Tempest wheel wells were copied into the model. However, for lack of a better alternative, this had to do. For some reason which I do not remember, I had covered the inner upper wing half with thin plastic card to have a smooth bottom in the wells. Most probably, the kit plastic was very rough in this area and there might have been some crude detail which I would have removed, leaving an uneven face. The areas were completely scratch built from plastic card, plastic rod and strip. A compressed air cylinder was made from scrap sprue plastic. Retaining clips for the cylinder, wiring and pipes was made from surgical blade covers. Apart from the basic shape of the wheel well including sections of ribs, other details included various pipes and wires and the locking mechanism for the undercarriage assembly.

Gun Bay

The gun bay construction consisted of two distinct parts, the gun bay itself and the gun bay doors. The bay area was first cut open. The plastic was carefully cut out and reused. Plastic strip was added to the edges to make up for the material lost when cutting. These doors are made up of two distinct parts which fold out onto the front of the wing. The plastic removed from the wings was thinned down to obtain a knife edge thickness. Details on the gun bay doors was made from a mixture of plastic card, plastic rod and strip, fuse wire and copper wire. The area housing the ammo feed drums was hollowed out. The hinge between the two parts was made from plastic rod and copper wire. The fasteners were made from plastic rod. When located in place, these doors rest on the wing leading edge and also on the gun barrels.

A completely new gun bay was built up from plastic card, strip and wire. The wing surface was used for the bay floor. This was sanded smooth and all imperfections removed. The Hispanos and ammo feed drums were scratch built from plastic. A central partition which in actual fact was one of the wing spars was constructed from plastic card and flat strip. Circular and oval openings in the sides and partition were done using drills. The innermost bay includes the actuating piston for the flaps. This was made from copper tube and plastic rod inserted into it. Gun cocking mechanisms, pipes and wiring were made from copper and fuse wire. The gun bay sides were left slightly smaller than the opening so as to have a small but significant edge on which to rest the gun bay doors. The ammo boxes were made from thin sheet aluminium and the 20mm shells from copper wire. Strips of wire were held in a mini drill chuck and honed over sand paper until the required shell front was formed. These pointed ends were then cut to size. Surgical blade covers were used to make the ammo belt and hold the shells together.

At this point in construction, a great sigh of relief was the installation of the wings' assembly to the already completed fuselage. At this stage, the model really starts to take on a new dimension. The remaining amount of detailing included minor items when compared to what was already achieved.

Wheel Doors and Undercarriage

The kit's larger wheel doors were accurate in shape. The inner doors, however were smaller. These were detailed and thickened using plastic card and copper rod. The inner wheel cover actuators and hinges were made from metal tubing and wire. Certain areas on the smaller doors were hollowed out to form indentations. The larger doors were made up from three distinct sections, the very thin overall plate and two thicker areas with space for the wheel leg.

The tyres were built up with Milliput and sanded to shape to give a weighted look. All undercarriage legs and actuating mechanisms are scratch built using copper and aluminium tubing. Besides detailing these parts, metal was used to give strength and stability. Although the Typhoon undercarriage is pretty complicated, it should be studied carefully and constructed bit by bit. This is very well illustrated in the publication titled 'Typhoon Portfolio'. The individual assemblies were then pinned together for strength and also to allow for a final setting.

The Famous Car Door

The door supplied with the kit was used as an outer skin. Kindly note that the Typhoon cockpit door was really a car door. The door thickness was built up using plastic card and strip. A slot was left for the glass to slide through since this could be wound up or down. Do not forget to include the winding handle for the window, it could get hot in there!! A piece of clear acetate was used to substitute for the window. This was left half open.


The kit canopy was used as the male mould. The front portion was separated from the rest and treated as a separate part. This made the making and installation of the canopy easier. These two sections were filled with Milliput so as not to cave in when put in contact with the hot acetate. Each part was then mounted on a brass rod which set into the Milliput. This would allow these to be held tightly in a vice until the hot clear acetate is stretched over them. Finally, the canopy framing was slightly lowered using 1200 gauge wet or dry sandpaper and the entire canopy polished using a rubbing compound. All clear canopy parts were then moulded.

The worst experience when constructing the canopy is the formation of a slot in the rear portion through which passed the radio aerial. This was cut out carefully with a knife and then filed to shape. When the main canopy was produced, the top part was separated so as to be fixed in the open position. Framing complete with handles was then added on to the clear part.

Other Miscellaneous Details

The rear part of the canopy which is pear shaped includes an array of aerials and lights. These were all painstakingly reproduced off photographs. The most obvious of these details are a clear hemispherical bulb behind the radio antenna, the red light just behind the antenna on the outer face of the canopy and connecting wiring.

The foot rest beneath the cockpit was made from odds and ends including brass rod, extra brass from photo etched frets and plastic. A corresponding slot in the fuselage should not be forgotten since this would have been retracted when not in use.


Areas such as the cockpit interior, engine and wheel wells were painted during construction. After painting in the appropriate colours, a thinned oil paint (burnt umber) wash is applied. The oils are thinned down using white spirit. After a couple of days, when the oil paint is properly dried, all parts are dry brushed with the appropriate lighter shades. This greatly enhances all details. The cockpit interior, wheel wells, engine cover and gun bay was painted in interior green. Washes and dry brushing completes the job as usual and adds life to your work. This is the stage when your modelling really shows up and all those bits and pieces of plastic, copper, brass aluminium and any other material you choose to work with take on a new dimension and look REAL.

Now for the model itself. All painted areas such as the cockpit, engine, wheel wells and gun bay were carefully masked. In the case of the engine, this was covered with PTFE tape. This adheres to detail without sticking on and I like to use it for masking delicate areas such as engines and wheel legs. The engine cover was then fixed in the closed position with a spot of Crystal Clear. This ensured a continuation of the camouflage pattern during painting.

As for the painting procedure, one may refer to my previous article where I describe the painting of my Me 262s. The sequence is standard and the materials used are also the same. The camouflage colours were mixed specifically for the job using Humbrol enamels, the IPMS colour guide and a fan deck of FS colour chips.

The sequence followed to paint the model was as follows:

  1. Underside Grey.
  2. Topside Grey.
  3. Topside Green.
  4. Thick white band covering invasion stripes area.
  5. Black bands over white.
  6. Sky band around rear fuselage.
  7. Yellow for leading edge and wing stripes.
  8. Other parts such as flaps and wheel doors.

The only experiment I made when painting the Typhoon was the following which was highly successful and really paid off. In order to avoid disappointment when correcting mistakes, the model was given a number (usually 4 to 5) of thinned down gloss varnish coats following the completion of any particular colour. Thus, when applying the next colour, any mistake may be rectified with gentle sanding. This will result in the removal of the unwanted paint and maybe some of the varnish. However, the colour underneath is left untouched. This procedure was carried out after each step mentioned above. As for the stripes, varnish was locally applied in that particular area to avoid unnecessary build up of varnish over the whole model.

A complete lack of accurately coloured decals prompted me to actually paint the national markings onto the aircraft. This resulted in a really nice effect since, like all the other colours, these were also weathered. Decals were only used for the serial number, code letters and Squadron Leader's pennant. PR were cut out from the kit's decal sheet and sprayed sky. The G was unavailable and was made from clear decal and sprayed. The 609 Squadron crest, motto and kill markings were hand painted by brush on clear decal.

When all decals were in place, thinned gloss varnish was sprayed over them and their immediate surrounds. This is left to dry and sanded down smoothly. The process is repeated as necessary until the decal edge is eliminated and merged into the model finish. When this process in completed, the decal outline should be invisible when viewed against the light. As an aside, this technique may be used to make good any defects which could have gone unnoticed up to this stage such as minute scratches, sink marks and the elusive joint line which no filler could make right. A little cheating is allowed as long as its for a good cause!!

The roundels were sprayed directly onto the kit. A thin clear sheet of acetate and a compass cutter were used to produce them. The method used was to start with the largest size circle and work inwards to the smallest. Take the wing topside roundels for example. The blue circle is measured and cut out of the acetate. This is taped onto the kit and sprayed using the usual three shade technique. This same diameter is then marked on another piece of acetate but not cut. Using the same centre for the compass, the red circle is cut out. This way, you are left with a piece of acetate with the blue outline marked out and the red circle missing.

This template may then be aligned with the blue circle and taped again to the model. The red circle may then be sprayed on. This method ensures that the circles are concentric. Any other attempts to obtain concentric circles failed miserably and resulte in much sanding and respraying. Then, when I was about to despair and give up, my wife who heard curses which cannot here be reproduced came up with this simple but ingenious brain wave. Unlimited thanks to her for saving me in that hour of great darkness. As mentioned above, I used gloss varnish to separate the blue from the red colours. This procedure was repeated for all the other roundels.

The final gloss varnish coats are left to dry for at least 48 hours. All panel lines were then given a wash with oil paint (burnt umber) thinned with white spirit. The paint should be thinned enough to allow easy flow of the paint along the panel lines. At this point, there will be over spilling of the paint from the panel lines but his will be dealt with later. The wash is left to dry for at least four days. The whole model is sanded down again using the wet and dry 1200 grade paper. This process should be carefully and lightly carried out with used sandpaper. This will allow for gradual removal of surface defects and the excess wash. The result should be a very smooth, blemish free surface.

Details such as aerials, pitot tube and undercarriage are all fixed in place. I like to fix these parts at such a late stage to avoid countless handling accidents since the model is sanded down at least three times in the process described above. One cannot sand the whole model down satisfactorily if certain items are in place.

My favourite stage follows. Weathering in the form of paint wear, gun and exhaust stains are put on the model. This procedure is also well explained in my previous article for the Me 262's. When this is complete and all defects have been remedied, a couple of coats of thinned matte varnish are sprayed over the whole kit for a good even finish. Once again, I prefer the Revell matte varnish since this is absolutely clear and does not yellow.

Before installing the canopy, the scratch built gun sight was located in place. The final stage consisted of the installation of the canopies. These were trimmed to shape. It is good to mould a few extra parts since there is always the inevitable scratch or imperfection or one might trim a bit too much. Clear decal sheet is sprayed with interior green and the camouflage colours. Thin strips of decal are then used to frame the canopy, green on the inside and the camouflage on the outside. The rear portion of the canopy, however was sprayed both inside and out since its complicated shape did not allow for decal to be used. The canopy was then fixed in place using Crystal Clear. The top middle part of the canopy was fixed in the open position. The last item to be fixed onto the model, of course was the Car Door. The Typhoon would not be complete without the car door which was fixed in the open position.


Following is a list of references which were used to build the model. Some of this literature pertains to the Tempest. Liberal use of this material was made due to lack of details regarding the Typhoon.


  • Typhoon and Tempest at War. - Reed and Beamont
  • Typhoon/Tempest in Action - Squadron Signal
  • Hawker Typhoon Portfolio - Brooklands Books
  • The Hawker Typhoon - Profile Publications
  • Hawker - An Aircraft Album - Arco
  • Fighters of World War Two Vol. 2. - Argus Books
  • The Hawker Tempest - Modelpress
  • Famous Fighters of the Second World War Vol. 1. - William Green

Magazine Articles

  • Tropical Typhoon by Jordan Ross - Scale Modeller
  • Hawker Typhoon by Arthur Bentley - Scale Models
  • Focus on a 1/32 Hawker Typhoon by Ray Rimmel and Bob Jones - Scale Models
  • The Typhoon by Richard Caruana - Air Forces International
  • Hawker Typhoon by Alan W. Hall
  • Tempest Summer by Roland Beamont - Aeroplane Monthly

Related Content

This article was published on Wednesday, July 20 2011 Last modified on Saturday, May 14 2016

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Hawker Typhoon – Specifications, Facts, Drawings, Blueprints

The Hawker Typhoon was evolved by Sydney Camm’s design staff at Hawker Aircraft in response to Air Ministry Specification F.18/37, which was for an interceptor capable of combating such heavily armed and armoured escort fighters as the Messerschmitt Bf 110.

Such an aeroplane was inevitably heavier than either the Hawker Hurricane or the Supermarine Spitfire, and to provide a comparable performance the powerplants selected were the new Napier Sabre H-type in-line engine and the X-type Rolls Royce Vulture, both of which promised to develop some 2,000 hp. Prototypes were completed with both types of engine the Vulture-engined design, named Tornado, was later abandoned when Vulture production was curtailed.

With Sabre engine, the aircraft was named Typhoon, and the first of two prototypes (P 5212) was flown on 24 February 1940. The Hawker Typhoon was a low-wing monoplane and the first Hawker product featuring stressed-skin construction. It also mounted widetrack landing gear, and initial models had a cabin-type cockpit with a side door. The aircraft flew well at low altitudes but demonstrated dismal climbing capacity.

Early service trials and squadron experience were far too short of being satisfactory, and it is conceivable that the Typhoon’s future career might soon have ended but for the appearance in 1941 of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in hit-and-run raids across the English Channel. The Fw 190 could outmanoeuvre all other British fighters, including the Spitfire V, and the Typhoon was the only effective means of stopping it.

The early Hawker Typhoon IAs carried six 0.303 in Browning guns in each wing, but these were replaced in the Mk IB by four wing-mounted 20 mm cannon, which became the Typhoon’s regular fixed armament. The fighter was unspectacular at altitude, but its clashes with the Fw 190 had revealed outstanding strength and agility at low level, and from this stemmed the type’s widespread use – and success – as a ground attack aircraft. After extensive weapons trials during 1942, Typhoons began to be fitted for operational use in the following year with underwing rails for eight rocket projectiles, the chief weapon employed by the type. Before and after the invasion of Europe, rocket-armed Typhoons attacked land and sea targets in the Channel and in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

Attacking in waves, the Hawker Typhoon aircraft proved particularly devastating against German Panzer divisions at Falaise, destroying 137 tanks in one day! They were all retired by 1945 as the most effective ground-attack aircraft of the war. A total of three thousand three hundred and thirty Typhoons were built, all by Gloster except for the two prototypes, five Mk IAs and ten Mk IBs.

IPMS/USA Reviews

Janusz Swiatlon authors the ninth book in Mushroom Model Publications' series that presents detailed illustrations of celebrated aircraft (and in one case, AFV). This volume's focus is on the Hawker Tornado, Typhoon, and Tempest V fighters that display a variety of authentic camouflage schemes and markings. A native of Krakow Poland, Janusz Swiatlon, is an aviation history enthusiast and military modeler. He has retired for the Polish military after serving with the 6 th Airborne Brigade. He has a long history of being published as an illustrator and as an author for many magazines and books from publishing houses as Osprey, Kagero, AF Editores, Chevron, and Mushroom Model Publications.

There are forty-six color profiles of Hawker Tornados, Typhoons, and Tempests along with several top and front views. Where appropriate, enlarged scrap views focus on unique markings. All of the subject aircraft have a short biography that discusses the camouflage in British colors as well as the pilots and service history where available. Although not advertised on the cover, this edition includes "Extra 1 Big Profile". This huge side profile is a fold out of four pages and features a Hawker Typhoon Mk Ib of 609 Squadron RAF. I particularly enjoyed a Hawker Typhoon Mk Ib that where Janusz Swiatlon provided left and right profiles as well as a top view and a frontal view. This aircraft was the personal aircraft of 145 Squadron Leader Anthony Zweigbergk, MP197, and featured a big shark mouth painted on the radiator scoop. Mushroom Model Publications' has provided a page by page preview at:

The Table of Contents includes the following sections:

  • Introduction (Page 1)
  • Hawker Tornado (Page 3)
  • Hawker Tornado Mk Ia (Page 6)
  • Hawker Typhoon Mk Ia
  • Hawker Typhoon Mk Ib (Page 11 and 31)
  • Hawker Typhoon TT Mk I
  • Hawker Tempest Mk I
  • Hawker Tempest Mk V (Page 47)

This edition of 'Spotlight On' provides an interesting view into a chapter of aviation history. A quick search of the wild world web shows that there are plenty of Typhoon and Tempest decals, so re-creating any of the featured aircraft should be of no issue. The Hawker Tornado is a separate issue since only four airframes were produced and to my knowledge has only been kitted in 1/72 (LF Models 7213 kit of the first prototype, P5219, with the belly radiator.

My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Hawker Tornado

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/14/2018 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Hawker Tornado was born of the same initiative that brought forth the Hawker Typhoon of World War 2. The initiative itself originated with Hawker wanting to introduce an improved form of their war-winning Hawker Hurricane monoplane fighter - star of the Battle of Britain. While the Typhoon went forward to claim a strong war record and see production reach into the thousands (as well as becoming the RAF's first cannon-armed fighters), the Tornado languished on as a testbed for different engine types and was limited to just four completed examples. The major downfall of the Tornado proved the unreliable nature of the Rolls-Royce Vulture engine which was itself given up for good with the emergence of the Rolls-Royce Merlin family.

Air Ministry Specification

The Tornado and Typhoon were developed to Air Ministry Specification F.18/37 of 1937 calling for a single-seat, monoplane-winged fighter capable of 400 mile per hour speeds, a 35,000 foot service ceiling, maximum weight of 12,000lbs and armament of 12 x 7.7mm machine guns (all listed as minimums). To go along with the new airframe, Napier & Sons and Rolls-Royce were each charged with development of all-new piston engines to power the type. For the Napier offering, this was the "Sabre" and the prototype aircraft to follow were therefore known for a time as "Type N". Similarly, the Rolls-Royce offering was to be the "Vulture" and prototype aircraft would become known under the "Type R" designator. Hawker was awarded the contract (B.815124/38) for prototypes of each engine kind in 1938.

The Typhoon and The Tornado

The Napier-powered mount held an early start for it was already on paper as early as April 1937, the Rolls-Royce version appearing in October of that year. Both designs made use of the same fuselage and wing assemblies for expediency, differing only in their engine fittings and details required of each installation. Unlike the original Hawker Hurricane, the designs instituted a new, thicker chord wing for greater internal volume and strength (possibly foreseeing the use of cannons over machine guns as well). A production contract for 500 of each engine-type aircraft was announced on July 10th, 1939 for a total of 1,000 airframes. The two competing designs were further differentiated in August-September 1939 by their assigned nicknames - the Napier-powered mount becoming the "Typhoon" and the Rolls-Royce-engined version becoming the "Tornado".

The Wright Duplex Cyclone-Equipped Tornado

For a short time between March 1940 and July 1941, the idea of a long-range Tornado equipping an American Wright Duplex Cylone engine was floated about. However, this came to naught with nothing more than the powerplant being delivered to Hawker facilities.

Prototype P5219

Delays in the Napier engine program allowed the Rolls-Royce Vulture prototype Tornado to emerge from construction first, recognized as "P5219". The type was fitted with the newly-forged Vulture II series piston engine fitted to its front-mounted compartment (managing a three-bladed propeller), the cockpit just aft. Wings were low-set monoplane assemblies while the undercarriage was influenced by the one as used on the Hawker Hurricane. The cockpit was heavily framed, entrance/exit by way of an automobile-style door, and the fuselage spine blocking and directly rear viewing. The intake opening for the radiator was fitted under the fuselage as amidships. Taxi trials were conducted in October of 1939 which led to a first flight recorded on October 6th, 1939. However, trials soon showcased buffeting at the radiator opening, forcing engineers to relocate the installation slightly forward in the design. Again, additional testing and wind tunnel evaluations encountered significant issues with this placement, relocating the radiator scoop to a chin-mounted position. With the change, testing continued and this resulted in an enlarged tail rudder for increased stability and aerodynamic refinements such as cover doors over the rear retractable tailwheel unit.

The Avro Commitment

While production was slated to be handled out of Hawker facilities, its commitment to the Hurricane forced Avro to be enlisted as a subcontractor - its experience with the Vulture engine in its Avro Manchester bomber working in its favor. Production of Tornados would then emerge from Avro factories and the batch was to be split between machine gun-armed and cannon-armed variants. However, in February 17th, 1941, the decision was made to keep all Tornados armed with machine guns and free up vital cannon supplies for the emerging Typhoon lines.

P5219 with Vulture V

On March 27th, 1941, P5219 was outfitted with a Rolls-Royce Vulture V series piston engine and took to the air. However, fractures found on connecting bolts soon grounded all future Vulture V flights. Prototype P5219 was then grounded for the length of its service life and utilized as a testbed until scrapped in August of 1943.

Prototype P5224

A second Vulture-equipped prototype was completed as P5224, this with the Vulture II series installed. First flight was then made on December 5th, 1940. By this time, the design was refined to an extent - the radiator scoop already in the chin position and the pilot aided through the added windows in the cockpit, allowing for improved visibility to the rear sections. P5224 was then modified to carry the Vulture V as in the first prototype, the decision made to enter all Tornados into production with the V-series engine. P5224 was moved to Boscombe Down and then to Farnborough on its testing circuit. In practice, the Tornado prototype yielded just under 400-mile-per-hour speeds and handling proved strong. One of the major complaints was in the viewing from the cockpit, blocked by the raise fuselage spine. Otherwise, the aircraft proved comparable to the competing Typhoon prototype which first flew on February 24th, 1940. However, P5224 followed the same fate as prototype #1, being set into storage at Aston Down and then moved to Oxford before finally scrapped on September 20th, 1944.


Back in January of 1940, a Tornado fitting a Bristol Centaurus engine was developed and this was mated to prototype P5224 prior to the arrival of its intended Vulture engine. The use of the Centaurus posed certain engineering issues with the existing Tornado airframe, forcing several major modifications to its compartment prior to installation. The Air Ministry allotted this Tornado development the confusing designation of "Centuarus-Typhoon" while, in fact, it was still a Tornado through-and-through. The Centaurus IV-equipped prototype HG641 achieved first flight on October 23rd, 1941. Vibration issues showcased in the design forced some revisions until testing ceased in August of 1944 (the airframe was scrapped in September).

Expected Production

Tornado (and Typhoon) production was then threatened in March of 1940 with a complete stoppage, once again owing to the fact that the proven Hurricane was needed in number. The Tornado/Typhoon programs were not reenacted until July, providing something of an avoidable delay. Beyond the commitment by Avro (Chadderton) (201) and Avro (Leeds) (360), the concern of Cunliffe-Owen (Eastleigh) was added to supply a further 200 Tornados. This would have allowed realistic wartime manufacture to reach 761 units.

Hawker Tornado Walk-Around

The Tornado was a clean design, reminiscent of the preceding Hawker Hurricane of 1937 and similar in appearance to the competing Typhoon. Its structure composed of all-metal wing assemblies which were individual sections not joined by a central spar. Stressed skin covered both appendages. The understructure made use of alloys and steel tubing for the required strength. Light alloys were utilized at the tail (which itself was similar to the one found on the Typhoon) while stressed skin covered most of the empennage and fabric skinned the rudder. The tubular fuselage added great aerodynamic qualities as did the wholly retractable undercarriage. The initially proposed armament of 12 x 7.7mm machine guns were to be concentrated in batteries of six guns to a wing. This was then changed to an all-cannon arrangement as in the Typhoon, incorporating two cannons to a wing assembly. It appears that none of the Tornado prototypes were completed with its guns in place for flight/armaments testing.

The Vulture Predicament

Persistent issues with the Vulture engine only added to the Tornado's woes. The engine proved highly problematic in the Avro Manchester bomber and were never resolved. Avro managed manufacture of just three production-quality units - R7936, R7937 and R7938 - before the contract was outright cancelled. Continued issues with the Vulture then led to its own cancellation as well, falling under the growing shadow of the emerging Rolls-Royce Merlin series. Development on the Vulture (and Tornado) ended on October 15th, 1941, despite the Vulture engines having behaved rather well on the Tornado prototypes (unlike the Manchester bombers). The Merlin was then followed by the excellent Griffon series. All three of the production Tornados found extended lives as engine and propeller testbeds. R7936, in particular, was developed into a Vulture-equipped testbed fitting a contra-rotating propeller assembly (six blades in all). Testing ran from February of 1942 until April of 1944 before it was scrapped.

The End of the Road

While the Tornado fell to the pages of aviation history, the Typhoon entered service with the RAF in September of 1941 and was produced in 3,317 examples from 1941 to 1945. The type also went on to influence the Hawker Tempest and Hawker Sea Fury in turn. While a limited match as a fighter mount, the Typhoon excelled as a strike platform when outfitted with bombs, rockets while relying on its cannon for additional ground-strafing firepower. The Tornado was doomed to watch from the sidelines before the design was abandoned. By this time, the Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire and all related types were well-entrenched resources for the British cause in the war. The Avro Manchester managed an unspectacular existence as a bomber with unreliable Vulture engines, 202 being produced in all.

Forgotten Legend

There were over 1200 young men and women who flew the Hawker Typhoon during WWII, 56% of them made the ultimate sacrifice. There is no memorial to these brave young men and women, the thousands of ground crew and support staff who kept the machines operating, nor to those who designed, built, tested and delivered the aircraft. We strongly feel that they deserve one. This memorial will not be carved from stone, or cast in bronze, viewed only by those who make the special journey to see it. This memorial will work, live and breath. It will fly, and it will be seen by many.

The Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group is a charitable organisation, run entirely by volunteers, and exists to raise the funds required to rebuild Hawker Typhoon MkIb, RB396, as the lasting legacy those brave men and women deserve. The rebuild of RB396 to airworthy condition cannot be achieved alone. We need financial support £5million is needed to cover the cost of the rebuild. We need your help. Join those who have already contributed in excess of £1million since the formation of the charity in 2016, and who have enabled the rebuild to commence, with the first section nearing completion. With your help, the rebuild can continue, progress, and be completed.

Watch the video: New Hawker Typhoon Documentary Film (July 2022).


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