” If you didn’t get off in the first 2-300 yards, you had to thunder down the hill, go up the other side and launch yourself into the bright blue yonder. It was rather hazardous and one or two of us [caught our propellers on the ground]… But I can confirm that a Typhoon can fly around the circuit with all four tips of its four propeller blades bent inwards and still manage to land again!”
— Jimmy G. Simpson, Pilot Officer, No. 193 Squadron RAF
Speed – A top speed in excess of 400 mph is quite impressive for late 1941.
Ground Attack – The Tiffie was a legendary ground attack plane, capable of carrying either 2,000 lbs. of bombs or eight 3″ rocket projectiles.
Firepower – The four 20mm Hispano cannons come with an ample supply of ammunition and pack a good punch against both planes and tanks.
Handling – At slow speeds the Typhoon is quite a handful and a stall can flip the plane over on its back.
Green, William; Famous Fighters of the Second World War; Hannover House, Garden City, NY; 1960.
Scutts, Jerry; Tempest/Typhoon In Action; Squadron/Signal Publications; Carrollton, TX; 1990.
Even before the production Hurricane had taken its maiden flight, the brilliant Sydney Camm was hard at work on his next design. Having heard about the new 24-cylinder power-plants that were being developed, Camm decided to focus his new design around one of these humongous engines.
Two months after the first Hurricanes were delivered, the Air Ministry issued specification F.18/37, which called for exactly the type of plane that Camm was designing, using either the Napier Sabre H-block engine or Rolls-Royce’s Vulture, of X-block design. The Vulture engine was the first to be delivered and the resulting airframe was dubbed the “Tornado”. The Tornado featured a ventral radiator beneath the wings, however flight tests revealed that the design caused buffeting and compressibility at speeds in excess of 400 mph and so the radiator was moved to the “chin” position under the engine.
The Napier engine was finally delivered on December 30, 1939 and the first Typhoon took to the air on February 24, 1940. However, due to wartime production needs, development of the Typhoon was delayed while the factories concentrated on churning out Hurricanes. This proved to be a boon for the fighter because of the teething problems of the new Sabre engine.
Finally in October 1940, interest in the project resumed and production was scheduled for the following year. The first production Typhoon IA was flown on May 26, 1941 with its standard armament of twelve Browning .303 machine guns. However, production of this version was very limited and it was mainly used for training and as a test bed for new equipment.
The Typhoon IB was fitted with four 20mm Hispano cannon in place of the .303s and Squadron delivery commenced in September 1941. Unfortunately, the Napier engine was still having reliability problems and combined with a tail assembly that tended to come off in high-speed power dives, it received a reputation as a plane as dangerous to its pilot as it was to the enemy. Its poor low-speed handling characteristics only helped cement this reputation.
Despite these problems, operations continued and as the Napier become more reliable, operational losses dropped back down to that of a “normal” fighter plane. With the addition of underwing bomb racks and rocket rails, the Tiffie as she was dubbed by her pilots, finally came into her own. By D-Day, the RAF was fielding twenty-six squadrons of Typhoons, being particularly useful in disposing of at least 137 tanks around the Avranches area during the Battle of Normandy.