Chris Thomas delves into the history of Hawker’s hard-hitting late-war fighter, the Tempest, which served with the RAF into the 1950s.
Above: The first production Tempest Mk.V, JN729, remained with Hawker for development purposes. In this photo, from March 1944, this initial example is seen testing an improved sliding hood.
The Hawker Tempest must surely be one of the leading contenders for the title of the best fighter aircraft of World War Two. However, its wartime activities, other than its remarkable successes against the V-1 flying bomb and its starring role in Pierre Clostermann’s best-selling book The Big Show are little known. The Hawker Tempest V served seven hard months in the 2nd Tactical Air Force (TAF), claiming more than 240 German aircraft destroyed in the air and creating havoc among German transport systems.
Post war, the Tempest V continued to serve with the Royal Air Force in Germany for another three years and its service life with the RAF extended into the mid 1950s as a target-tug.