Information

Hawker Typhoon with four rockets


Hawker Typhoon with four rockets

This picture show four rockets under the wing of a Hawker Typhoon.


Hawker Typhoon Over-rated?

Post by brustcan » 17 Apr 2004, 23:22

Re: Hawker Typhoon Over-rated?

Post by redcoat » 17 Apr 2004, 23:41

Post by alf » 18 Apr 2004, 06:19

There was a combined Allied technical survey done, they found the vast majority of tanks were destroyed by the Germans themselves, after running out of fuel. The Typhoons hadn't been that succesful in knocking out tanks (about a dozen by memory) but they had decimated all soft skin vehicles, the result was the same, a tank destroyed.

Air to ground rockets weren't that accurate and anti aircraft defences fierce but Allied Airpower (the Typhoons and Thunderbolts) did dictate German daylight tactics so in that repect they were extremely effective.

Post by Tony Williams » 18 Apr 2004, 07:26

From: 'Flying Guns - World War 2: Development of Aircraft Guns, Ammunition and Installations 1933-45' - details on my website

"The evidence gathered by the OR teams indicated that very few tanks were destroyed by air attack. A British War Office analysis of 223 Panther tanks destroyed in 1944 revealed that only fourteen resulted from air attack (eleven to RPs and three to aircraft cannon). During the Mortain battle of 7-10 August, the RAF and USAAF launched sustained attacks on a German armoured column over a period of six hours, claiming 252 German tanks destroyed or damaged in nearly 500 sorties. It was subsequently discovered that there had only been a total of 177 tanks or tank destroyers deployed by the Germans and just 46 of those were lost, of which only nine could be attributed to air attack (seven to RPs and two to bombs). During the German retreat from the Falaise pocket later in August, the RAF and USAAF claimed 391 armoured vehicles destroyed. Shortly afterwards, the battlefield was examined and only 133 armoured vehicles of all types were found, of which just 33 had been the victim of any sort of air attack. In the retreat to the Seine, large numbers of armoured vehicles were left behind and Typhoon pilots alone claimed 222 destroyed, but only thirteen out of 388 AFVs examined were found to have been knocked out by RP attack. In the Ardennes salient, just seven out of 101 knocked-out AFVs were definitely or possibly attributed to air attack, compared with claims for 90. It should be noted that in the prevailing circumstances of a continuing retreat, there was no question of the German Army having recovered any damaged tanks in these later actions, in fact the battlefields were often littered with undamaged tanks abandoned by their crews.

One source estimates that probably no more than about 100 tanks were lost due to hits from air weapons during the entire Normandy campaign. In contrast, the RAF's 2nd TAF (including elements of the Air Defence of Britain which took part in the campaign) and the USAAF's 9th Air Force lost over 1,700 aircraft between them.

The ineffectiveness of air attack against tanks should have caused no surprise because the weapons available to the fighter-bombers were not suitable for destroying them. Put simply, the heavy machine guns and 20 mm cannon were capable of hitting the tanks easily enough, but insufficiently powerful to damage them, except occasionally by chance. The RPs and bombs used were certainly capable of destroying the tanks but were too inaccurate to hit them, except occasionally by chance."

Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and Discussion forum

Post by Michael Kenny » 18 Apr 2004, 11:01

"In the retreat to the Seine, large numbers of armoured vehicles were left behind and Typhoon pilots alone claimed 222 destroyed, but only thirteen out of 388 AFVs examined were found to have been knocked out by RP attack"

Post by Tony Williams » 18 Apr 2004, 14:27

Operational Research teams, which examined all vehicles left on the battlefield to determine how they had been destroyed.

Post by Michael Kenny » 18 Apr 2004, 16:02

Tony I know about the ORU Reports its just that off-hand I dont remember one that had the high figure you posted

"but only thirteen out of 388 AFVs examined "

"One source estimates that probably no more than about 100 tanks were lost due to hits from air weapons during the entire Normandy campaign"

Almost certainly the lowest 'estimate'. Heavy bombing alone destroyed about 15-20 in one raid and there were other raids.

Post by Tony Williams » 18 Apr 2004, 16:32

The first figure comes from Gooderson's 'Air Power at the Battlefront' (pg 119) - the standard work on this subject. Gooderson made considerable use of the OR stats.

The second was from an internet history site which I judged from the content to be reasonably serious and reliable.

Re: Hawker Typhoon Over-rated?

Post by brustcan » 19 Apr 2004, 02:13

Hawker Typhoon over-rated?

Post by brustcan » 19 Apr 2004, 02:23

Tony Williams wrote: From: 'Flying Guns - World War 2: Development of Aircraft Guns, Ammunition and Installations 1933-45' - details on my website :)

"The evidence gathered by the OR teams indicated that very few tanks were destroyed by air attack. A British War Office analysis of 223 Panther tanks destroyed in 1944 revealed that only fourteen resulted from air attack (eleven to RPs and three to aircraft cannon). During the Mortain battle of 7-10 August, the RAF and USAAF launched sustained attacks on a German armoured column over a period of six hours, claiming 252 German tanks destroyed or damaged in nearly 500 sorties. It was subsequently discovered that there had only been a total of 177 tanks or tank destroyers deployed by the Germans and just 46 of those were lost, of which only nine could be attributed to air attack (seven to RPs and two to bombs). During the German retreat from the Falaise pocket later in August, the RAF and USAAF claimed 391 armoured vehicles destroyed. Shortly afterwards, the battlefield was examined and only 133 armoured vehicles of all types were found, of which just 33 had been the victim of any sort of air attack. In the retreat to the Seine, large numbers of armoured vehicles were left behind and Typhoon pilots alone claimed 222 destroyed, but only thirteen out of 388 AFVs examined were found to have been knocked out by RP attack. In the Ardennes salient, just seven out of 101 knocked-out AFVs were definitely or possibly attributed to air attack, compared with claims for 90. It should be noted that in the prevailing circumstances of a continuing retreat, there was no question of the German Army having recovered any damaged tanks in these later actions, in fact the battlefields were often littered with undamaged tanks abandoned by their crews.

One source estimates that probably no more than about 100 tanks were lost due to hits from air weapons during the entire Normandy campaign. In contrast, the RAF's 2nd TAF (including elements of the Air Defence of Britain which took part in the campaign) and the USAAF's 9th Air Force lost over 1,700 aircraft between them.

The ineffectiveness of air attack against tanks should have caused no surprise because the weapons available to the fighter-bombers were not suitable for destroying them. Put simply, the heavy machine guns and 20 mm cannon were capable of hitting the tanks easily enough, but insufficiently powerful to damage them, except occasionally by chance. The RPs and bombs used were certainly capable of destroying the tanks but were too inaccurate to hit them, except occasionally by chance."


Hawker Typhoon

The Hawker Typhoon was originally conceived as a bomber interceptor. It went on to become one of the most effective World War Two fighter bomber aircraft of the RAF. The Hawker Typhoon originated with the desire of the British Air Ministry to utilize the powerful, new, Rolls Royce/Napier Sabre 2,000 hp engine in a fighter aircraft. Unfortunately, the engine was introduced prematurely and initially had a multitude of mechanical difficulties. The new aircraft did not have the high altitude performance and climb rate expected of an interceptor. However, at low altitudes, it was capable of 400 mph plus performance.

In addition to engine problems, initially the Hawker Typhoon had a fatal structural weakness causing the elevator to experience massive flutter when pulling out of a dive. Upgrades were made to the engine and fuselage and these problems were overcome, but not without some trade-offs. Its rate of climb diminished, along with its high altitude performance.

The Hawker Typhoon gained popularity when, within days after being deployed, they downed four Luftwaffe fighters which were making low level raids on Britain's south coast. The aircraft's aggressive looks, enhanced by the radiator bulge beneath its propeller, endeared it to the British public.

Hawker Typhoon pilots appreciated the stability of the aircraft throughout its flight envelope. They found the aircraft among the best for putting its cannons on target.

The Hawker Typhoon became more stable and responsive to control inputs as its speed increased. Its landing speed when fuel and ordnance were expended after a mission, with flaps extended, was about 75 mph. Take off rotation speed, when fully loaded for a mission, was at about 110 mph.

Hawker Typhoon aircraft were successfully employed in night raids over France in November of 1942. After that success they were used during daylight on raids of German air fields, highways, shipping, bridges, and railroads.

The Hawker Typhoon was fitted with rockets in late 1943. It used these to advantage against German ground targets, particularly radar and communications facilities in France and the Low Countries in preparation for D-Day.

A total of over 3,300 Hawker Typhoon aircraft of all types were produced through Nov. of 1945 when production ended.

Only a single Hawker Typhoon, still in its original form, survives to date. It is on display at the RAF Museum.

The RC Hawker Typhoon from FMS is PNP with a wingspan of 43 in. and length of 33 in. It features retracts, flaps, and a 3536- 850 kV motor turning a l0.5 x 7 three bladed prop. All up weight should is around 3 lbs.

Wowplanes has a RC Hawker Typhoon kit. It is a foamy with a 62 1/2 in. wingspan and weight of about 8 1/2 lbs. You can power it with .40 to .60 2C engines or equivalent electric motors.

Tony Nijhuis Designs has plans and a short kit of the RC Hawker Typhoon. Its wingspan is 62 in. and length 48 1/2 in. Construction materials are balsa and plywood. It needs a .61 two stroke engine or a 4-Max motor for power. Weight is around 7 lbs.


As a fighter, it is mainly a BnZ aircraft with lethal armament, especially the stealthy Air targets belts. Roll rate is below average but turn performance is decent for such a large aircraft. Where the Typhoon shines, as in real life, is in ground attack roles with 2 x 1000lbs bombs or 8 x RP-3 rockets. Used in this role the Typhoon can strike very fast and accurately and use its speed to disengage. Climb early in the battle as performance is maintained even with 2 x 1000 bombs underneath, select the target and bomb in a shallow dive. Disengage with a shallow climb at great speed away from enemy fighters. Softer targets can be destroyed easily with the cannons. This aircraft can be a real lion farmer used in a mixed role of fighter bomber attacking unsuspecting slower enemy aircraft, or blasting through furballs at high speed. The Air Targets belts will reward the good shot. Performance is best below 6 km (20000 ft). When manoeuvring keeps the speed up, this is a heavy aircraft and will not easily regain energy lost by high loads, making it vulnerable.

Manual Engine Control

MEC elements
Mixer Pitch Radiator Supercharger Turbocharger
Oil Water Type
Controllable Controllable
Not auto controlled
Not controllable
Not auto controlled
Controllable
Auto control available
Combined Controllable
2 gears
Not controllable

Pros and cons

  • Good diving speed
  • Excellent armament
  • Above average armour
  • Can withstand tough loads
  • Good speed
  • Good climb rate
  • Water overheats if too much WEP applied
  • Low roll rate
  • Big target for a fighter
  • Limited cockpit visibility

Tail Trouble

Hawker Typhoon Mark IB, which suffered a collapsed undercarriage on landing after a sortie. 1943-1945

Early Typhoons also suffered from a structural weakness in the tail. This led to the deaths of several pilots before the problem was fixed.


Restored: The Last Typhoon

The RAF Museum’s Hawker Typhoon MN235 wears the markings of the Royal Canadian Air Force No. 440 “City of Ottawa” Squadron.

Iain Duncan/RAF Museum, Hendon

A famed ground-pounder—the sole surviving complete example of its type—has been returned to display in Britain.

Late in November 2018, the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, England, put its Hawker Typhoon Mark IB, serial no. MN235, back on static display. Although it is not slated to fly, the museum has good reason not to risk it, for in one respect it is the last of its kind.

Originating from Air Ministry Specification F.18/37 calling for a single-engine fighter armed with four cannons, the Hawker Typhoon underwent a long, frustrating genesis before entering service in September 1941 with a still-troublesome 2,000-hp 24-cylinder Napier Sabre engine. While it was the first British fighter to exceed 400 mph, the Typhoon never topped 412 mph, much less its projected 464 mph. Moreover, its thick wing section and high wing loading gave it a poor rate of climb, and performance dropped off significantly at high altitude. Early Typhoons were plagued by tailplane flutter and structural weakness in the fuselage just forward of the tail.


Hawker Typhoon with four rockets - History

The Hawker Typhoon (Tiffy in RAF slang) is a British single-seat fighter-bomber, produced by Hawker Aircraft.

The Hawker Typhoon (Tiffy in RAF slang) is a British single-seat fighter-bomber, produced by Hawker Aircraft. It was intended to be a medium–high altitude interceptor, as a replacement for the Hawker Hurricane, but several design problems were encountered and it never completely satisfied this requirement.

The Typhoon was originally designed to mount twelve .303 inch (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns and be powered by the latest 2000 hp engines. Its service introduction in mid-1941 was plagued with problems and for several months the aircraft faced a doubtful future. When the Luftwaffe brought the formidable Focke-Wulf Fw 190 into service in 1941, the Typhoon was the only RAF fighter capable of catching it at low altitudes as a result it secured a new role as a low-altitude interceptor.

The Typhoon became established in roles such as night-time intruder and long-range fighter. From late 1942 the Typhoon was equipped with bombs and from late 1943 RP-3 ground attack rockets were added to its armoury. With those weapons and its four 20mm Hispano autocannon, the Typhoon became one of the Second World War's most successful ground-attack aircraft.

"Your exciting Journey into digital world of aviation starts "

Hawker
Hawker Typhoon Mk.1b

By 1943, the RAF needed a ground attack fighter more than a "pure" fighter and the Typhoon was suited to the role (and less-suited to the pure fighter role than competing aircraft such as the Spitfire Mk IX). The powerful engine allowed the aircraft to carry a load of up to two 1,000 pounds (450 kg) bombs, equal to the light bombers of only a few years earlier. The bomb-equipped aircraft were nicknamed "Bombphoons" and entered service with No. 181 Squadron, formed in September 1942

National origin United Kingdom

First flight 24 February 1940

Introduction 11 September 1941

Length: 31 ft 11.5 in[nb 21] (9.73 m)

Wingspan: 41 ft 7 in (12.67 m)

Height: 15 ft 4 in [nb 22] (4.66 m)

Empty weight: 8,840 lb (4,010 kg)

Loaded weight: 11,400 lb (5,170 kg)

Max. takeoff weight: 13,250 lb (6,010 kg) [nb 23]

Powerplant: 1 × Napier Sabre IIA, IIB or IIC liquid-cooled H-24 piston engine, 2,180, 2,200 or 2,260 hp (1,626, 1,640 or 1,685 kW)

Propellers: 3 or 4-blade de Havilland or Rotol propeller

Maximum speed: 412 mph (663 km/h) at 19,000 ft (5,800 m) with Sabre IIB & 4-bladed propeller

Stall speed: 88 mph (142 km/h) IAS with flaps up

Service ceiling: 35,200 ft (10,729 m)

Rate of climb: 2,740 ft/min (13.59 m/s)

Bombs: 2 × 500 lb (227 kg) or 2 × 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs

You are definitely intrigued to discover Hawker Typhoon .

The first two Messerschmitt Me 210 fighter-bombers to be destroyed over the British Isles fell to the guns of Typhoons in August 1942. During a daylight raid by the Luftwaffe on London on 20 January 1943, four Bf 109G-4s and one Fw 190A-4 of JG 26 were destroyed by Typhoons. As soon as the aircraft entered service, it was apparent the profile of the Typhoon resembled a Fw 190 from some angles, which caused more than one friendly fire incident involving Allied anti-aircraft units and other fighters. This led to Typhoons first being marked up with all-white noses, and later with high visibility black and white stripes under the wings, a precursor of the markings applied to all Allied aircraft on D-Day.

Hawker Typhoon Mk.1b "Tiffy"

The Hawker Typhoon (Tiffy in RAF slang) is a British single-seat fighter-bomber, produced by Hawker Aircraft. It was intended to be a medium–high altitude interceptor, as a replacement for the Hawker Hurricane, but several design problems were encountered and it never completely satisfied this requirement.


Conclusions

It should be emphasized that during WWII, tactical air-ground support was still in its infancy. Hitting small, well armored or shifting targets tended to be a difficult task, especially if the attacking plane had only a brink amount of time to aim at the target. Even today for helicopters or “tank busting” aircraft (A10, Su-24, F-16, AH-64, Hind), it can be relatively difficult, despite the availability of guided weapon systems.
World War II aircraft could only carry a limited amount of air to ground bombs or missiles and on sustained fire, the main guns were prone to overheating. Machine guns had trouble penetrating more than 10 mm of top armor. On the other hand, autocannons proved to be rather unreliable, further increasing the plane’s weight, impacting flight characteristics.
Generally speaking, the true nature of tactical, close support aircraft was primarily recon, attacking stationary targets and the ability to wreak havoc on the rear echelons and supply lines. The disruptive effect would ultimately influence the unit’s behavior (forcing it to abandon offensives or to maneuver through woods), decision making, tactics and morale. After all, it was the destruction of bridges and railroads that had the biggest impact on the German Army in France, adding substantially to the already disastrous logistical situation and pre-existing shortages of fuel.
An article by Stiltzkin


How the Hawker Typhoon Cut Up the Falaise Gap

Speeding from their cab ranks, they incessantly scourged the retreating Germans with rockets, bombs, and blazing machine guns.

From the Supermarine Spitfire to the North American P-51 Mustang, and from the Soviet Yak series to the Vought F4U Corsair, the Allies were able to field a formidable array of fighter planes against the Axis powers in World War II.

There were a number of other first-rate fighters that proved to be more than a match for their German, Italian, and Japanese foes. Yet, one of these Allied planes, which emerged as among the deadliest during the second half of the war, ironically almost never entered service because of myriad problems in its development.

This was the big British Hawker Typhoon, a low-wing, all-metal monoplane with a powerful single engine, bubble canopy, and the capacity to carry machine guns or 20mm cannons, plus bombs and rockets. Few Allied planes in World War II overcame more teething troubles or were initially more unforgiving, yet which aspired to a combat role in which they performed more spectacularly. Though the Typhoon failed to make the grade as a pure fighter, it brought a new concept to air warfare.

The Hawker Typhoon: Brain Child of the Famous Sydney Camm

Design of the Typhoon was initiated by the tall, irascible Sir Sydney Camm, one of the great aircraft designers of all time. A Windsor-born, self-taught carpenter’s son, he worked for the Martinsyde Company before joining Hawker Aircraft and becoming its chief designer in 1925 at the age of 32. Camm designed several highly successful single-engine aircraft for the Royal Air Force, most notably the Fury, Hart, and Demon biplanes and the famous Hurricane, and from then on, Hawker rose to the forefront of the British aviation industry.

Camm anticipated in 1937 that the Air Ministry would soon be seeking a successor to the Hurricane, which was to distinguish itself in the Battle of Britain and other theaters of operation. Well aware of the ascendancy of German air power, it was reasoned in Whitehall that the RAF needed a new generation of interceptor, a 12-gun fighter with an engine promising to deliver twice the power of a Rolls-Royce Merlin.

In January 1938, the far-sighted Air Ministry issued Specification F.18/37 calling for a replacement aircraft for both the Hurricane and Reginald J. Mitchell’s legendary Spitfire. The new plane would have, above all, a top speed exceeding that of contemporary bomber types (over 400 miles an hour) at altitude. Its armament would consist of no fewer than a dozen 7.7mm Browning machine guns. Hawker Aircraft Co.’s early interest in the project was rewarded with a contract for two designs, each of which would have two prototypes.

One of these was powered by Rolls-Royce’s new X-configuration Vulture, and the other by a Napier H-type Sabre powerplant. Both engines were large, 24-cylinder designs expected to produce about 2,000 horsepower. Both airframes were all metal with tubular framework for the front half of the fuselage and an alloy monocoque at the rear. An equally robust one-piece wing was supported by a sturdy widetrack undercarriage. The wingspan was 41 feet, seven inches.

The main differences between the two prototype aircraft were related to their differing engines. The first Vulture-engined machine, named Tornado, had a Hurricane-type ventral radiator, while the Sabre-engined Typhoon had the characteristic “chin” radiator arrangement. The Vulture development proceeded at a faster pace, and the Tornado was the first to fly, on October 6, 1939, a month after the outbreak of war. The Typhoon prototype took to the air for the first time on February 24, 1940.

But powerplant and other problems soon emerged. A routine test of the first Typhoon prototype on May 9, 1940, almost ended in disaster when the fuselage suffered a structural failure in flight. A month’s development work was lost before an investigation and remedial action put the prototype back on the flight line.

Orders were placed for 500 Tornados, 250 Typhoons, and another 250 of whichever type proved the most successful. Though both were dogged by problems with engine reliability, planning went ahead for production by Gloster Aircraft Co. (Typhoon) and A.V. Roe Co. (Tornado). But Britain soon had her back to the wall as German forces overran the Low Countries and France in the spring of 1940. Development of the critically needed interceptors had to take second place while the Air Ministry demanded the manufacture and delivery of Hurricanes, Spitfires, and Merlin engines for the fateful Battle of Britain that summer, when RAF Fighter Command defeated the German Luftwaffe and staved off the planned invasion of England.

The Typhoon Enters Service

The first flight of the second Typhoon did not take place until May 3, 1941. This plane incorporated several improvements, including four 20mm cannons in place of machine guns and a larger fin and rudder to increase directional stability. Progress was made, and a production Typhoon flew later that month. Built by Gloster Aircraft at its Hucclecote, Gloucestershire, plant, this was the first of 110 Typhoon Mark IAs, equipped with machine guns due to a shortage of cannon-feed mechanisms. All subsequent Typhoons—there would be 3,205 in all—would be cannon-armed Mark IBs.

Meanwhile, the Tornado program was cancelled after being plagued by serious engine failures. Only one production machine was ever completed.

Tactical trials with the Typhoon were started in September 1941. In comparative flights with a Spitfire Mark VB, the Typhoon reached a top speed that was 40 miles an hour faster at 15,000 feet and faster still at lower altitudes. The new fighter was less agile than the smaller, lighter Spitfire, but it was felt that its speed would make up for the deficiency.

The first production Typhoons began to enter RAF service with No. 56 Squadron in September 1941. They were operational from May 1942. But soon after the deliveries it became apparent that the Typhoon still had flaws, some serious and some minor. Fatigue failure at a rear fuselage joint was responsible for the loss of the complete tail units of an alarming number of planes. Carbon monoxide leaking into the cockpit was blamed for a fatal crash in November 1941. Though the cockpit sealing was improved, the fumes were never fully eradicated, and Typhoon pilots had to fly with oxygen masks in place.

The plane had poor rearward visibility that was eventually corrected with a new teardrop canopy. Meanwhile, as more accidents claimed both RAF fliers and Gloster test pilots, the Typhoon was still plagued by the unreliability of its Sabre engine. This was attributed to deformed sleeve valves that caused engine seizures, and a solution was not found until mid-1943.

Some officials at the Air Ministry suggested that the Typhoon be withdrawn from service, while the former Hurricane and Spitfire pilots assigned to it were not happy. Most of them agreed unanimously that the Typhoon had an abysmal rate of climb and disappointing high-altitude performance.

A Flawed Aircraft, a “Magnificent Gun Platform”

Squadron Leader H.S.L. “Cocky” Dundas, a 21-year-old decorated veteran of the Battle of Britain and the Bader Wing flying sweeps over France, took over command of No. 56 Squadron just before Christmas 1941. He reported, “I was, of course very excited to be commanding the first squadron to get the great new fighter, but I must say I was slightly horrified, perhaps that’s too strong a word, but was astounded by what I found. It seemed like an absolutely enormous airplane compared with the Spitfire. One sort of climbed up, opened the door, and walked in!”

Dundas was alarmed with the Typhoon’s oil, starter, and rear-view visibility problems and explained them during a Fighter Command conference at Duxford Airfield attended by Air Ministry officials and the plane’s designer. “Sydney Camm was very put out when I was arguing so vehemently that this was a bad design and we couldn’t go into action with it. I remember him saying something to the effect, ‘My bloody airplane’s so fast you don’t have to see behind you!’ Things got quite heated, I remember.”

Dundas got his way, and the Typhoons went back, one by one, for modifications. “They gradually got the oil business more or less right during the early months of 1942,” he said. “Then came the trouble with the tails.”

Pilot Officer J.G. Simpson of No. 198 Squadron found there was the chance of the Typhoon’s engine catching fire when it was started. “The real problem,” he said, “was the size of the propeller, and the torque resulting from opening the throttle, and the fact that she swung like hell to the right as you charged down the runway.”

Another experienced pilot who admitted to being intimidated by the new fighter was Sergeant A. Shannon of No. 257 Squadron. He reported, “I remember the Typhoon as being a hairy machine, and the wind would put you up long before you ever met it…. The engine was quite a huge thing … and frightened the life out of me when I just got in and opened the throttle. I felt, after the takeoff which didn’t disturb me too much, that I was up to 15,000 feet before I knew it—before I started to think! It was frightening, and I rather think it flew me rather than I flew it, for a while.”


How the Hawker Typhoon Cut Up the Falaise Gap

Speeding from their cab ranks, they incessantly scourged the retreating Germans with rockets, bombs, and blazing machine guns.

Eventually, after more modifications and cockpit experience, pilots were able to acknowledge the Typhoon’s qualities. Pilot Officer Simpson said, “However, after a few hours it [the plane’s performance] seemed quite normal, and once you had mastered the problem of not opening the throttle too quickly, it was quite easy to fly and very stable. In fact, as an aircraft to go to war in, it was a magnificent gun platform.”

Nevertheless, the performance of the Typhoon left much to be desired. Its engine was unreliable and still down on power, and the plane lacked maneuverability and speed above 15,000 feet, largely because of its thick wing section and high wing loading. Yet the trouble-plagued fighter proved fast and surprisingly agile at low levels.

Train Busters

By September 1942, several Typhoon squadrons were stationed across southern England for defense. The threat of German daylight bomber raids had evaporated, but hit-and-run intrusions by Luftwaffe fighter-bombers, particularly the deadly Focke-Wulf 190, persisted that autumn. Typhoons went up to intercept them. The actions often finished up at low levels, where the Typhoons frequently caught and overhauled the FW-190s. Within a week of being transferred to Manston Airfield in Kent, No. 609 Squadron destroyed four FW-190s.

The RAF had finally found a plane capable of beating the FW-190, one of the most effective machines in the Luftwaffe arsenal, which, ironically, closely resembled the Typhoon. The successes kept the Typhoon operational while Camm and his Hawker team worked frantically to cure its shortcomings. During this period, a Typhoon was fatally lost when its tail broke free from the fuselage. Similar disasters followed, forcing Hawker to strengthen the joint between the fuselage and empennage. This failed to eliminate the problem, and elevator flutter was eventually identified as the actual cause. The ultimate cure involved the fitting of an enlarged tailplane.

Clearly seen as ideally suited to low-level combat, the Typhoon gained bomb-carrying capability in late 1942. The aircraft of two squadrons were eventually equipped to carry two 250- or 500-pound bombs, or two 1,000-pound bombs. Meanwhile, in 1943, Typhoon squadrons became increasingly active in offensive sorties over Nazi-occupied northern Europe. Carrying rocket projectiles, the Typhoons soon gained fame as train busters, destroying as many as 150 locomotives a month on the French and Belgian railroads. In its first few months of such operations, No. 609 Squadron accounted for 100 locomotives while losing only two planes.

Typhoons of Nos. 174, 181, 245, and 609 Squadrons ranged over France and the Low Countries, playing havoc with German installations, supply dumps, and communication lines. The British fighters’ low-level, high–speed capability gave them a high degree of immunity from both enemy fighters and antiaircraft batteries. By the end of 1943, the Typhoon had realized its full potential.

Operating in conjunction with other fighter-bomber groups based along the English south coast, Hawker Typhoons mounted with a lethal combination of rockets, bombs, and machine guns blasted German shipping in the English Channel, road convoys, bridges, tunnels, rail and highway junctions, and radar stations on the French coast. The sorties increased in frequency and severity as Allied preparations for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Western Europe by the British, American, and Canadian Armies, intensified in late 1943 and early 1944.

D-Day Air Support on Demand

By D-Day, 26 Typhoon squadrons were in action with the British 2nd Tactical Air Force led by handsome, Australian-born Air Marshal Sir Arthur “Mary” Coningham, an innovative, outspoken veteran of World War I and the North Africa, Sicily, and Italy campaigns in 1941-1944. His hard-fighting air force was in the forefront of Allied softening-up operations against the Germans before and after the massive June 6, 1944, invasion. With about 1,800 frontline aircraft and 100,000 men from seven nations, the 2nd Tactical Air Force played a crucial aerial support role in the Normandy landings, the breakouts in the summer of 1944, and the drive into Germany.

Sorties by Hawker Typhoons made a crucial contribution to the success of the Allied landings in Normandy by knocking out enemy radar stations that would have provided advance warning of the invasion fleet. On June 2, Typhoons of Nos. 98 and 609 Squadrons attacked and destroyed the radar site at Dieppe-Caudecote, while others demolished all six of the long-range radar stations south of Boulogne before D-Day. Fifteen other stations were left unserviceable so that much of the Channel coast was left without radar.

When the Allied assault troops went ashore on the five invasion beaches, Typhoons were among the first planes overhead. Forming the offensive backbone of the 2nd Tactical Air Force’s combat wings, they came into their own in Normandy as they mauled enemy defenses daily along with Allied high-level bomber formations and P-47 Thunderbolts and other fighters of the U.S. Eighth and Ninth Air Forces. Much credit for the Germans’ initial failure to build up swiftly behind the Allied beachheads was given to Coningham’s Typhoon squadrons. Operation Overlord and the hard-fought campaigns that followed proved to be the Typhoons’ finest hour as they harassed the German Army by night and day.

The first call for help from the Typhoon units on D-Day came at 7:43 am when the British 21st Army Group requested an attack on the headquarters of the German 84th Corps at Chateau la Meauffe, near St. Lo. A squadron responded immediately, bombing the target and killing most of the occupants. Three days later, on June 9, Typhoons of Nos. 174, 175, and 245 Squadrons blasted the enemy radar station at Joubourg, overlooking the Normandy beaches. Meanwhile, other Typhoon squadrons were busy on D-Day and afterward hitting German headquarters locations, troop concentrations, gun batteries, and fast E-boats threatening Allied landing craft in the English Channel.

As the British, American, and Canadian Armies broke out of the northern perimeter, more Typhoons operated close to the advancing units. The tactical concept of close air support was brought to a new height of effectiveness. Typhoon pilots were instructed to maintain standing patrols, nicknamed “cab ranks,” at an altitude of about 10,000 feet over the front lines. The planes were then called down by RAF officers attached to the ground forces to strike specified targets with guns, bombs, and rockets as the need arose. The support was lauded by the Allied soldiers struggling to dislodge stubborn enemy defenders from the tangled Normandy bocage country.

Supporting the Normandy Breakout

By mid-June, Typhoon squadrons were operating from hastily laid airstrips close to the front lines. Few German fighters tackled the Typhoons, but the 2nd Tactical Air Force suffered considerable losses from enemy ground fire and damage from clouds of dust that plagued radiators and engines. This necessitated the Typhoons’ withdrawal for repair and the fitting of special filters. There was a rapid turnover of aircraft, and many battle-damaged planes had to be returned to civilian repair shops in England.

After the Allied armies had shored up their beachheads and broken out, worsening weather limited air operations and slowed the advance. Despite the weeks of bitter struggle through the bocage and the regrouping of enemy defenses, footholds had been gained by the Allies. There was no turning back.

By the beginning of August, the breakout had been consolidated, although the crucial Goodwood offensive, started on July 18 by General Sir Miles Dempsey’s British Second Army, had ground to a halt to the east and south of the strategic city of Caen. U.S. forces began their thrust, Operation Cobra, from defensive positions on July 25. After a massive aerial bombardment, General Omar N. Bradley’s U.S. First Army assaulted the German line west of St. Lo. Making the main effort, three infantry divisions of General Joseph Lawton Collins’s Seventh Corps breached the enemy line between Marigny and St. Gilles.

Within five days, the American spearhead reached Avranches, turning the western flank of the German front and opening the door to the Brittany peninsula. The American breakout was made possible because the bulk of the German armor was now firmly emplaced in the east, opposite the British front around Caen. The town, only nine miles from the coast and a D-Day objective, was the scene of the bitterest fighting in the Normandy campaign.