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RAF's Last Piston-engine Fighter

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

I always try to select interesting aircraft types as my modeling subjects and in my opinion Hawker Tempest is one of them. It is know for being RAF's last piston-engine pursuit aircraft, but that is not all. The Tempest was very effective in low-level interception role which resulted in many successes destroying V-1 flying bombs. Additionally due to its agility and speed he was a formidable opponent to newly developed jet-propelled aircrafts like the Messerschmitt Me 262.

Hawker Tempest was heavily modified version of Hawker Typhoon which from the very beginning suffered with bad performance due to its thick (NACA 22) wing section. New laminar flow design for the Tempest resulted in the wing that had more elliptical shape and was some 5 inches thinner at the root than the original. Due to the thinner wing there was not enough space for the fuel and additional tank had to be installed in the fuselage.

Of the five planned variants:

  • Tempest Mk I with Sabre IV engine

  • Tempest Mk II with Centaurus IV engine

  • Tempest Mk III with Griffon Mk IIB

  • Tempest Mk IV with Griffon 61

  • Tempest Mk V with Sabre II

only Mk V took part in WWII operations and was the main variant of the Tempest. Mk II entered service late and had no significant operational use during the war. Sabre IV was troubled by glitches and integration of the Griffon into Typhoon took much more time that it was anticipated which resulted in creation of only one prototype of Mk III and Mk IV was never built.

First prototype of Tempest Mk V with Sabre II engine flew for the first time on September 2nd, 1942. The first production aircraft made its maiden flight on June 21st, 1943 and achieved speed of 432 mph at 18,400 feet. Tempest became operational in April 1943 with 3rd and 56rh Squadrons.

Hawker Tempest Mk V series II which is the subject of this build had exactly same characteristics as series I, which were:

  • Napier Sabre IIA,B or C 24-cylinder 'H'-type engine

  • Four-blade Rotol or DH propeller

  • Bubble canopy

  • Production "Tempest-style" vertical fin and rudder

  • Enlarged (in comparison with Typhoon) horizontal tailplanes

  • Retractable tailwheel / doors

  • No reinforcing plates on rear fuselage

  • Engine cooler with carburetor air intake in chin cowling

The only difference from series I was by having the four Hispano V 20mm cannons buried entirely in the wings.

The exact airframe I selected is NV944 of 3rd Squadron, 122nd Wing stationed at B.152 Fassberg station (airfield was overrun in April 1945 by the British Army and subsequently used by the Royal Air Force), Germany in June 1945. At that time it was flown by the most famous Tempest pilot the Free French Pierre Klosterman. During the conflict he achieved 33 air-to-air combat victories, earning the accolade "France's First Fighter" from General Charles de Gaulle. His wartime memoir, The Big Show (Le Grand Cirque) became a notable bestseller which by the way I have already ordered and cannot wait to read it!

NV944 carried standard day fighter scheme as stipulated in A.M.O. A664/42 dated 2nd July 1942 comprising Ocean Grey and Dark Green in a disruptive pattern on the upper surfaces and Medium Sea Grey on all the under surfaces. Additionally all Tempests had the leading edge of each wing in yellow and this area usually extended for 1.5in above and below the centerline, running from just outboard of the outer wing cannon to the edge of the tip light.

© Gaëtan Marie/Bravo Bravo Aviation

The red spinner, scoreboard, and name ‘Le Grand Charles’ (to honor General Charles De Gaulle) were all added post war.

© Gaëtan Marie/Bravo Bravo Aviation

For the model I selected Eduard Tempest Mk V Series 2 as always in 1:48 scale. This is completely new tool from 2018 and it arrives in the standard ProfiPACK box, with a brand new painting on the front showing two Tempests in flight.

The package contains 5 sprues of grey colored plastic - 171 parts in total. Aside of that we get 20 parts in clear, self-adhesive die-cut canopy and wheel masks and colour photo-etched parts for harness and instrument panel. Additionally in the box we find colored booklet and markings for 6 aircraft.

Moulding quality is definitely what we expect from Eduard this days - details on the surface are just gorgeous. We get very fine and crisply recessed panel lines, rivets and fasteners. In between the cockpit and the empennage there are even rows of amazingly subtle raised rivets - and this can really add to the final effect when painted and weathered properly.

For this model I again decided to show quite a lot of additional details, including Napier Sabre engine (which looking at number of parts and building steps will be model in itself), gun bays and landing flaps. Below I listed all aftermarket sets I bought for this build:

  • Eduard Tempest Mk V cockpit #648416

  • Eduard Tempest Mk V gun bays #648419

  • Eduard Tempest Mk V engine #648417

  • Eduard Tempest Mk V landing flaps #48977

  • Eduard Tempest Mk V wheels late #648421

  • Master Cannon Tipis & Pitot Tube #AM-48-134

  • Montex Maxi Mask #MM48495

  • Eduard Tempest Mk V undercarriage #648446

  • Eduard Tempest Mk V updrade set #48976

  • Yahu Tempest Mk V Instrument Panel #YMA4880

For the reference I will use great guide from Valiant Wings: The Hawker Tempest. These guys do exquisite job putting together amazing amount of information of given subject. When you add to that beautiful photos and illustrations you get dream come true book for the modeler. I really recommend this Airframe & Miniature series from Valiant Wings publisher!

One more thing! Aside of the reasons I mentioned in the first paragraph there is one more very important one why I decided to do this aircraft now. It was a gift for my last birthday from my lovely girlfriend who by the way puts up with me spending countless and countless hours on my passion. I am so much grateful for that, it is high time to build it best I can and add to my collection.

Till next update!

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