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Hawker Tempest

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With its genesis in another Hawker aircraft, the Typhoon, the Tempest was a supremely fast aircraft and was extremely successful in engaging the V-1 flying bomb. Its speed also enabled the Hawker Tempest to be one of the few Allied aircraft able to compete with the Messerschmitt Me 262.

Quick Facts
First flight
2nd September 1942
Entered service
April 1944
Total built

Front view
Tempest front view photo
Side view
Tempest side view photo
Rear view
Tempest rear view photo

Evolving out of a design study to improve the Hawker Typhoon, which although a successful low altitude interceptor and fighter bomber, it wasn't its intended role which was that of a high altitude interceptor. Initial changes consisted of a thinner wing, due to this a new fuselage tank was need, a Napier Sabre EC. 107C engine and the distinctive radiator under the engine being moved to the wing. The new design, refereed to as Typhoon II, was submitted to the Air Ministry, leading to an order for two prototypes on the 18th November 1941 under Specification F.10/41.

Due to some more, this time, major changes to the aircraft the plane was named the Hawker Tempest in January 1942. With the other planned plane that Hawker were working on, the Tornado, being cancelled the engines were instead used on the two Tempest prototypes, with the Sabre IV engined prototype being named the Tempest I and the Sabre II engined prototype the Mk V. Another four Tempest prototypes were ordered with a Bristol Centaurus IV engine powering two Tempest IIs, and the Rolls Royce Griffon IIB powering two Tempest IIIs, which would later be powered by a Griffon 61 engine, thus becoming Mk IVs. However only one Griffon powered Tempest was made and in the end became one of the prototypes for a future Hawker plane, the Fury, although only the Hawker Sea Fury would see service with the Royal Navy, as the RAF version was cancelled.

As with the Fairey Battle, which was also ordered before the protoype had flown, an order was placed by the Air Ministry, for the Tempest I, before any prototypes had flow, although the order would be transferred to other Tempest Mks, The prototype Mk I flew for the first time on the 23rd February 1943, without the 'chin' that featured on the Typhoon, despite reaching a maximum speed of 466 mph, whilst the Sabre IV's supercharger was in high gear, the Hawker Tempest I was dropped due to problems with the engine program.

The Tempest V was the first prototype version to fly on the 2nd September 1942 piloted by Philip Lucas, this version retaining the chin radiator of its predecessor the Typhoon. With the first production version flown on the 21st June 1943, the initial hundred Tempest Mk V's had four 20-mm cannons, which protruded from the wing, the rest would have their short barrelled cannons contained in the wing. One Mk V had a similar armament installation to the Hawker Hurricane IID with four cannons and a 40 mm 'P' gun, and some were converted to TT.5 target tugs after the end of hostilities.

It was the Tempest V which was the first to be put into RAF service when fifty were delivered to Newchurch, Kent during April 1944. It was also to form the first Tempest wing within No. 85 group, and was under the command of Wing Commander R.P. Beaumont, DSO, DFC, who would also fly the leading plane on the 8th June 1946 in the Victory Fly Past over London. The squadrons in the wing were Nos 3 and 486 Royal New Zeland Airforce, and in June 1944 was joined by No. 56 Squadron. As the build up to D-Day intensified the wing played an active role, but some Tempests were later re-assigned to help combat the V-1 flying bomb, when the first one fell on the 13th June 1944. The Tempest was to prove successful in this role as they shot down 481.5 out of the 1,847 V-1s destroyed by Allied fighters, equating to 26%. Other Hawker Tempest V's flew patrols to help support ground troops, and as progress was made, moved to airfireds in France and Belgium, they also engaged the Luftwaffe's jet fighter the Messerschmitt Me 262, and by VE Day had destroyed 20.

The Hawker Tempest II powered by a Bristol Centaurus Mk IV engine made its first flight on the 28th June 1943, just 7 days after the first production Mk V had flown. When the Mk II was put into production it was powered by the Centaurus Mk V engine. However the Mk II arrived to late to serve in the Second World War arriving in November 1945, No. 54 Squadron at Chilbolton was the only home based squardon equipped with the type. Although other Mk IIs served in Germany, Hong Kong, India and Malaya, and it remained in operation in the Middle East until de Havilland Vampires replaced them in 1949.

The last production version was the Hawker Tempest Mk F.VI powered by the Napier Sabre V engine, these planes were tropicalised for service in the Middle East, whilst some were converted to TT.6 target tugs, like the MK II the Mk VI was also to late to see service in World War 2, although was later was used by Squadrons in Germany and the Middle East.

By the time production had ended 1,702 Tempests had been built.


Click on the aeroplane image to view a larger version.

Max Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Tempest Mk I Single prototype fitted with a Napier-Sabre IV engine.
Tempest Mk II 422 mph 770 miles 37,000 ft four 20mm cannons
and either two 1,000lb bombs
or eight rocket projectiles
Tempest Mk III Two prototypes powered orginally by Rolls-Royce Griffon 61 engine.
Tempest Mk IV Became the Hawker Sea Fury.
Tempest Mk V 426 mph 740 miles 37,000 ft four 20mm cannons
and either two 1,000lb bombs
or eight rocket projectiles
Tempest Mk VI 438 mph 740 miles 37,000 ft four 20mm cannons
and either two 1,000lb bombs
or eight rocket projectiles


Click on a photo to view a larger version.

On Display

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

Variant Location
Tempest Mk V (C) AeroVenture - South Yorkshire Air Museum
Tempest Mk II Royal Air Force Museum, London
Tempest Mk V

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