|A Typhoon Mk Ib from No 175 Squadron at Westhampnett, in Autumn 1943.
In 1937, as the Hurricane was entering service with the Royal Air Force, its designer
Sydney Camm was already busy with a new project: a next-generation fighter that would be powered by a 2,000 hp
engine, and armed by twelve .303 cal machine guns.
- Role: single-seat fighter and attack plane
- Conception: Sydney Camm, for Hawker Aircraft Ltd
- Production: prototypes and pre-production: Hawker Aircraft Limited (17 planes);
mass-production: Gloster Aircraft Company (3,300 planes).
- First flight of prototype: Hawker Tornado: October 6th, 1939;
Hawker Typhoon: February 24th, 1940.
Two liquid-cooled engines able to output such power were available in pre-production versions: the X-shaped
Rolls-Royce Vulture and the H-shaped Napier Sabre. The Vulture-powered prototype was called
the Tornado, and the Sabre-powered one was named the Typhoon.
The RAF ordered 500 Tornadoes, 250 Typhoons, and 250 of the plane that would show to be the best of the two !
However, as the Vulture was heavy and very unreliable, the Tornado project was cancelled
after a single plane was built.
The Typhoon was also troublesome: the Sabre engine was barely more reliable than the Vulture,
and a structural weakness in the tail of the Typhoon led to several accidents.
The climb rate and performance at high altitude was also inferior to what was expected.
Some British officials even requested the whole Typhoon project to be cancelled.
However the Typhoon development went on, but was delayed as Hawker was ordered in 1940 to concentrate on
the Hurricane production instead of working on any yet unproved design.
Despite these early setbacks, and engine reliability problems which never were completely solved,
the Typhoon proved invaluable for the RAF in several situations:
- It was the only fighter fast enough to intercept the FW 190 low altitude
fighter/bomber surprise raids that started hitting the British coast at the end of 1942.
- The Typhoon's speed was also a great advantage to intercept the German V1 "buzz bombs".
- Fast, stable, able to carry large bombs and with four cannons, the Typhoon had all that was needed
to become a good ground attack plane.
Starting in October 1943, the Typhoon was more efficient than ever
at that role as it proved to be an excellent launching platform for a new weapon: the air-to-ground rocket.
|A Typhoon Mk Ib from No 1 Squadron at Lympne, in July 1943.
- The Typhoon Mk IA was the Typhoon as Sydney Camm had designed it: the armament was twelve
.303 cal wing-mounted machine guns. The first planes were delivered to the No 56 Squadron at Duxford in September
- The Air Ministry specs for an heavy fighter were calling for cannon armament; the Typhoon Mk IB
was the answer, with four wing-mounted 20 mm cannons. The Mk IB had already flown
for the first time on May 3rd, 1941, so it was delivered shortly after the Mk IA.
By Summer 1942, the No 56,
266 and 609 Squadrons were flying a mix of Typhoons Mk IA and IB.
Hawker Typhoon Mk IB
Napier Sabre II, liquid-cooled 24 cylinder in H
empty: 3,992 kg (8,800 lb) - with full load: 6,010 kg (13,250 lb)
Four wing-mounted Hispano 20 mm cannons
Max speed: 664 km/h (412 mph)
Ceiling: 10,500 m (35,200 ft)
The first 163 Typhoons had an opaque rear canopy, but most were retro-fitted with the
production-standard framed transparent canopy.
The bubble canopy was only delivered from Winter 1943, and became
a standard feature on the Tempest.
- In 1941, Hawker was working on a new elliptic laminar-flow wing for the Typhoon. As several other
improvements were introduced at the same time, and maybe to try to forget the bad reputation of the early Typhoons,
what should have been the Typhoon Mk II received a new name: the Tempest.
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Copyright ©: Christophe "stof" Arribat - last update:
(Pictures and info from "Hawker Typhoon" by Mister Kit and C.H. Thomas [Atlas])