Osprey's Tempest Squadrons of the RAF


Chris Thomas


Osprey Publishing


$23.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softbound
ISBN: 978-1-4728-1454-8

Hawker aviation in the UK was probably one of the most innovative of all the British aircraft manufacturers. From its speedy Hind bombers of the thirties to the Harrier of the 1960s, Hawker continued to produce front line military aircraft. This book is on the Tempest. This was a development of the Typhoon, a fighter designed for air to air combat, but one that was much more suited to ground attack, despite having a liquid-cooled engine.

The Tempest started with the basic Typhoon airframe, changing the wing to a laminar flow type. This not only provided greater speed but, along with an increase in the size of the tail plane, made for a more maneuverable aircraft that was a more stable gun platform.

Initially, the Tempest went through a number of different versions, each powered by a different engine. The best of which was the Tempest II with the Centaurus radial, an aircraft that many consider the best British piston-engine fighter. However, engine issues continually delayed the introduction of this plane and so it was the Tempest V, powered by pretty much the same engine as the Typhoon which saw service during WWII.

The Tempest V first started entering squadron service just before D-Day. It was planned to have Typhoon squadrons convert to the new type, but the need for the Typhoon for the ground attack role, the rather slow production of the Tempest V and the new threat from the V-1 kept the Tempest in the UK, where its speed was a major plus when it came to dealing with the 'Doodlebug'.

Shooting down V-1s was not the piece of cake that people might think. For one, the pilot had to get fairly close, which increased the issue of having debris from the exploding bomb damage the aircraft. When the V-1 assault switched to the night, there were issues regarding getting close enough as the Tempest did not have a range finding gun sight. Eventually the progress of the ground war took care of the threat to England and Tempest units moved to the Continent to continue their service with the 2nd TAF.

Post war all the Tempest units were kept in Europe as part of the occupation forces. Around this time, the Tempest II was finally coming off the lines and while some units in Europe converted, others were sent to the Far East to fight the Japanese. The war ended before than so they were kept in India, many eventually being turned over to both the Indian and Pakistani Air Force. Tempest VIs with more powerful engines were mostly stationed in the Near East with units in Palestine and Egypt. The type was also used against Malayan insurgents until replaced by other types.

There is, of course, a lot more to the story, including some superb period photos, great selection of color profiles and the usual pilot stories, but I'll leave it to you to read the book to discover that. The end result is a superb book on a type that often gets overlooked by aviation enthusiasts. Highly recommended.

December 2016

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