For some their favourite aircraft of World War II trend towards the some well known legends such as the Mustang, Thunderbolt, Flying Fortress or Corsair. For me, one of my all time favourites is the Tempest Mark V and seeing as its a plane we’ll be flying in the IL-2 series in the next 12-16 months I decided to do a little overview of the aircraft and let people unfamiliar with the type know a little bit about it and look at it in flight sim history.
Sydney Camm’s ultimate WWII piston engine fighter
The Tempest started life as a series of improvements to the original Typhoon design. For its early life the Tempest was known as Hawker P. 1012 or Typhoon II and sometimes the “thin winged Typhoon” as the design was employing some of the latest advancements in wing design. Shared with the Mustang, the Tempest design was fitted with a “laminar flow” profile which emphasized lower drag but came with slightly less lift at high angles of attack.
The wing change along with structural improvements were aimed at making the Typhoon II into a better more capable high altitude interceptor. This was all in 1941 as the Typhoon itself was just getting into service and some of its glaring issues were being discovered.
The Typhoon would go on to be successful in its own way – as a low level tactical fighter-bomber and would be used this way for nearly its entire career.
The newly named Tempest (from Typhoon II) benefitted from lessons learned during the Typhoons development. Changes were aimed at improving the aircraft in nearly every way.
The new elliptical wings, thinner profile, and other improvements boosted the performance of the airframe from the Typhoons maximum speed of 412 mph at 19,000 feet (with a late model four bladed propeller) to 432 mph at 18,400 feet and later to 435 mph at 19,000 with the upgraded Sabre IIB engine.
Rate of climb improved too from 2,740 ft/min to 4,700 ft/min. This was close enough to some other high performing British fighters such as the Griffon-powered Spitfire XIV’s 5,040 ft/min and Spitfire IXe’s 4,745 ft/min.
The Tempest would prove to be a formidable opponent and an equal to some of the best and fastest German fighters of the late war period. Tempest squadrons would participate in low and medium altitude tactical reconnaissance sweeps and would often encounter large numbers of Bf109s and FW190s along with the occasional Me262, Me410, Ju88 and other enemy types. Tempests were also employed in V-1 “Anti-Diver” operations and some squadrons racked up significant numbers of the unpiloted weapon.
Tempests were fast, had impressive aerodynamics, dove quickly, and they hit very hard. Early models were equipped with the 650 rpm Hispano Mark II cannon (with barrels protruding slightly from the wings) but most Tempests (of the Series II variety) were fitted with the 800 rpm Hispano Mark V with slightly shorter barrels. Ammo supply information varies from 160 rounds per gun to 200 rounds per gun at maximum. Zero length rocket rails and 1000lb bombs were also armament options although in practice only the bombs were ever used.
Some early Tempests used a conventional gunsight while the later series had the gunsight piper reflected directly onto the windscreen offering an almost completely unobstructed view of the target.
There are some interesting historical gun camera footage from the Tempest and comments from a Tempest pilots are out there on YouTube such as this compilation:
The Tempest Mark V later gave way to the Mark II with a Bristol Centaurus radial engine. Other Mark’s were reserved for different engine trials as the basic airframe was fitted with the Sabre IV, Centaurus Radial, Griffon in-line, and the World War II era Sabre II. The Mark II was tropicalized and intended for operations against Japan in the far-east, however, hostilities ended before the type could see active service.
Post war the Tempest design was used as the basis for the excellent Hawker Sea Fury which would see some service in Korea including famously shooting down a MiG-15 jet fighter.
The Tempest in combat flight sims
A number of flight sims have tackled the Tempest in the past. Flight Sim X and other ‘civil’ oriented flight sims have included the fighter. Combat Fight Simulator 3 included the Tempest and if we go back further there’s one title that started my interest in the fighter in the first place.
Dynamic’s Aces Over Europe. This 1993 PC gaming flight sim offered up both the Tempest and Typhoon as flyable aircraft in its 1943-1945 flight sim.
A masterpiece for 1993 we’ve come a long way from those early flight sim days but it was fun to take up all sorts of WWII warbirds on a 386 and that included some great missions flying the Tempest and defending the bridges at Remagen against Ar234 jet bomber attacks.
The Tempest V was added by a third-party modeller to the original IL-2 series after a protracted period of development time. One of the better detailed models of the series, the Tempest still holds up fairly well in that series.
In multiplayer battles the Tempest was a tough opponent and I had a lot of fun flying it against the best of the opposition in everything from realistic battles to the average ‘air quake’ server where you could fly against anything.
During the original IL-2’s heyday I also created a campaign for the Tempest called Storm Clouds and that was later re-released as Storm Clouds 2.0. It was a massive campaign pack featuring the Tempest V and FW190D-9 (along with a P-47 mini-campaign) all set in the last days of World War II. That pack included 28 Tempest missions, 20 FW190D-9 missions, and 8 missions for the P-47.
If you still fly the original IL-2: 1946 pack you can still download that campaign on Mission4Today.
Soon, IL-2: Battle of Bondenplatte will open the door yet again to one of my all time favourites. The Tempest Mark V is on the list of standard aircraft and it will make an appearance next to some other fantastic aircraft like the Mustang, Thunderbolt, Bf109K-4 and FW190D-9. It will also be up against the Me262 and I expect to fly some tense low altitude missions trying to catch a Me262 before it can get away.
Looking forward to flying this aircraft all over again in the new IL-2 series.