Monday, November 12

Airframe & Miniature 4: “The Hawker Tempest– a Complete Guide to the RAF’s Last Piston Engine Fighter” by Richard A. Franks in review

Valiant Wings Publishing are pumping out titles pretty much as fast as I can read them – With a new book on the Hawker Sea fury on the way we went to Telford this weekend to pick up their latest book on the Hawker tempest – simply called “The Hawker Tempest– a Complete Guide to the RAF’s Last Piston Engine Fighter” by Richard A. Franks – we will see if the standard is being held up to the output in this review…

The Hawker Tempest– a Complete Guide to the RAF’s Last Piston Engine Fighter

Written by: Richard A. Franks
English text, Full colour & B/W Photos
Pages:  144
RRP: £17.95

Having it seemed cornering the market on the Hawker fighter family with the announcement of their book on the Sea Fury coming out soon – Richard Frank’s title on this the Tempest comes just in time for the IPMS at Telford in England. Having just read Valiant Wings’ excellent book on the HE 219 Uhu - and “liking it a lot” I had high hopes for this title – So I joined the many people already to be the lucky owner of this book on the tempest.

Early on in the development this book grew from what was foreseen to be 128 pages to 144 pages – a good thing for the customer already when everything cannot be fitted in – I see Valiant wings have made this book available for the same price as originally estimated as well which is a nice gesture.
The book is in regular portrait format with a soft – but glossy cover with striking blue cover with lovely artwork. The pages are of a glossy stock and the finish and layout of the book is clear and easy to follow. This book in the “Airframe and Miniature” series is designed to satiate those interested especially in modelling and detail of the aircraft. In those aspects we weren’t disappointed.

The start of the book takes us through a small introduction to the type and it’s genesis from the earlier Hawker Typhoon I personally used to think many years ago the tempest just had the redial Centaurus engine – but the in-line Sabre powerplant was featured heavily in production as well, and these two powerplants are discussed in the “Evolution” section of the book.

This section of the book takes you through - with specifications in words, line drawings and pictures – the development marque by marque and sometimes prototype by prototype of the tempest which led to the shapes we know as the ultimate late war British prop-driven fighter. Although I have always found the RAF style of aircraft rather dull this part of the book really helps you understand why these two engines were used and what the sometimes minor differences were. It definitely cleared up my queries on the Tempest.

There is a really good section on the colours and markings of the Tempest next. This section explains marque by marque again what colours these aircraft wore and when they were changed – and sometimes why – but always what colours and markings were changed too.

Instead of just saying “From May 1944 – feb 1945 the Tempest wore these colours…” – the book rightly breaks colours and markings down to what the different models wore which is the completely correct way to go about it. Unit numbers, codes and special markings are explained in a very thorough manner which helps modellers a lot.

There are included in this section coloured top-down and six pages of side profiles of the aircraft in the production series – right from the first prototype  Mk V – which looked more like  spitfire – through the Sabre powered engined Tempests with a chin intake through to the Centaurus radial powered aircraft which resembled it’s later bigger brother – the Sea Fury.

Mr. Caruana – most notably known for just this kind of work producing aircraft profiles has done another outstanding job on these aircraft’s views – and they make you want to rustle up a few more decals for your model. It is nice to see a few other operators like India and Pakistan represented – if only fleetingly here.

The few surviving Tempests – and there are only a few – are the subject of a small chapter next – we are given an insightful view into what is left and the journey they have undertaken to get there – an interesting read and it’s a dubious honour to know one of these magnificent aircraft is holed up in Florida in the United States in a place called “Sun ‘n Fun” – the purists’ mind boggles…. The two RAF museum examples are heavily discussed here as well – this I found really interesting as the yellow and black striped undersides on the Duxford example always struck a chord with me.

The next part of the book could save you some time as a modeller. Scale by scale – from 1/144 through to 1/72 and 1/48th the author takes a look at what kits have been made of the Tempest – all types of kits are covered – and the author is pretty (and rightly so) ruthless but accurate in his opinion. Forget all of the sponsored reviews you see – this chapter cuts through the fan-boy favourites and tells it how it is.

We even get a breakdown of some kits that were retooled by some manufactured ( like the recent Eduard kit) and you are given a verdict on each kit on its merits – firm but fair - I liked it very much. There are also some very modern kits like the Revell “MicroWings “series which have only been released a month or two ago. The Author hints at the MDC resin kit in 32nd scale which is languishing in limbo – and accurately gives the same information I have heard from that manufacturer’s own mouths. He knows what is going on.
There are several build of these very kits in the next chapter. We see in great detail some stunning builds of some of the more popular scales – the “best of the bunch” 1/72 and 1/48 scale full kits were built by Libor Jekl and Steve Evans – and these do not disappoint! The writers tell you all about how they detailed their kits. These builds are of a better quality than most modelling magazines as they have more text to them – a great all-in-one place for research.

Specialist Jacek Jackiewicz contributes next to the book with his now trademark 3D drawings in the Valiant Wings series. These are great and I have been a big fan since I saw them in the ME 262 book.

Special versions of the tempest which varied a great deal from the two best known variants are an eye opener in this section – The 3D drawings giving the annular radiator cowl engined and the 40mm cannon armed Tempest real depth. Annotations point out very efficiently the differences between the variants that give you a still better understanding of the changes.

From the cockpit to the exterior and miscellaneous equipment the next section sees a massive walk around and series of revealing pictures and copies of original factual data which shows how the aircraft was put together in some great detail when combines with these close up photos of restored aircraft and parts thereof – seats, wheels, radios tail sections, all of the small parts you wish you had a drawing of or some information on can be found in this section of the book. It is a great part of the book for modellers. (-or if you have a spare Tempest you want to restore)

Several Appendix round out this publication, A list of Model kits of the tempest and accompanying pictures, aftermarket details in mostly resin and decals, a section on tempest production and a bibliography all bring everything into focus in quite a small but concise space while lastly some excellent scale plans by Jacek Jackiewicz look just as good to me as the plans on similar types by A.J.Bentley. Hard white paper drawings of the major types in production are here at the back of the book in 1/48th scale. A really great addition for us modellers as well.

Mr. Franks has taken a hard subject here – only just seeing some service in WWII and then being retired pretty much by 1948 – the Tempest was sometime eclipsed by the Typhoon and the Sea Fury – but I suppose it was nonetheless important as a link to those fighters and you can see here how it stemmed from the Typhoon and almost became the Sea Fury (in it’s looks anyway) The author has nonetheless made an interesting and not to mention excellent research book – and a darned good help to modellers out there with this book.
Well done on a rightful addition to the Valiant Wings family – keep more of these coming!

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for supplying us with this book.

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