In March of 1940, Hawker initiated a number of design studies aimed at improving their Typhoon fighter, as it did not have the performance they were aiming for, especially at high altitudes. These involved the use of a new wing design that featured a thinner wing section and a reduced wing area. The new wing was five inches thinner at the root than the original Typhoon wing. In order to save development time, Sidney Camm decided to mate the new wing to a modified Typhoon airframe and the same Napier Sabre powerplant.
The thin wing meant that alternative space for fuel had to be found. This was achived by moving the engine 21 inches forward and inserting a 76 gallon tank between the firewall and the oil tank. This gave the Tempest prototype a decidedly longer "nose". The redesign also included a new undercarriage and the latest of the Sabre engine, the Mark IV. Hawker’s biggest problem with the new fighter was the engine. By the Spring of 1942, the various problems with the Sabre had not been fully eliminated and the company proceeded with its plans for alternative engine installations for the Tempest prototypes. The various combinations of airframe and engine were each given a Mark number. Only the Tempest V using the Sabre II engine was built during the war.
A prototype Tempest first flew on 24 February, 1943, and by September it had been pushed to 472 mph in level flight, but it was not built in quantity, and the Tempest V was ordered instead.
The other major development for the pilot was the use of an all-round vision bubble canopy. This gave significantly better vision in the rear quadrant of the aircraft.
The new aircraft proved to be an excellent fighter and 400 were delivered before the wars end.
Technical Details Only the Mk V single-seat fighter was flown in WWII. It was powered by the Napier Sabre IIB in-line (liquid cooled) engine rated at 2,420 hp. The Mk V were with fitted with four of the new short-barrelled Hispano Mk. V 20 mm cannon which was completely enclosed in the wings. It’s top speed in level flight was 435 mph at 17,500ft (although it could dive up to much higher speeds). It had a service ceiling of 36,000 feet and a range of 740 miles.
Image and Technical Information From: Christer Landberg’s The Hawker Tempest Page.
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