+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based on historical facts. BEWARE!
The Hawker Typhoon was 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.
Even before Hurricane production began in March 1937, Sydney Camm had embarked on designing its successor. Two preliminary designs were similar and were larger than the Hurricane. These later became known as the "N" and "R" (from the initial of the engine manufacturers), because they were designed for the newly developed Napier Sabre and Rolls-Royce Vulture engines respectively. Both engines used 24 cylinders and were designed for over 2,000 hp (1,500 kW); the difference between the two was primarily in the arrangement of the cylinders – an H-block in the Sabre and an X-block in the Vulture. Hawker submitted these preliminary designs in July 1937 but were advised to wait until a formal specification for a new fighter was issued.
In March 1938, Hawker received from the Air Ministry, Specification F.18/37 for a fighter which would be able to achieve at least 400 mph (640 km/h) at 15,000 feet (4,600 m) and specified a British engine with a two-speed supercharger. The armament fitted was to be twelve 0.303” Browning machine guns with 500 rounds per gun, with a provision for alternative combinations of weaponry. The basic design of the Typhoon was a combination of traditional Hawker construction, as used in the earlier Hawker Hurricane, and more modern construction techniques; the front fuselage structure, from the engine mountings to the rear of the cockpit, was made up of bolted and welded duralumin or steel tubes covered with skin panels, while the rear fuselage was a flush-riveted, semi-monocoque structure. The forward fuselage and cockpit skinning was made up of large, removable duralumin panels, allowing easy external access to the engine and engine accessories and most of the important hydraulic and electrical equipment.
The Typhoon’s service introduction in mid-1941 was plagued with problems and for several months the aircraft faced a doubtful future. When the Luftwaffe brought the new 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.
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. Furthermore, from early 1943 the wings were plumbed and adapted to carry cylindrical 45 imp gal (200 l; 54 US gal) drop tanks increasing the Typhoon’s range from 690 miles (1,110 km) to up to 1,090 miles (1,750 km). This enabled Typhoons to range deep into France, the Netherlands and Belgium.
From September 1943, Typhoons were also armed with four "60 lb" RP-3 rockets under each wing. Although the rocket projectiles were inaccurate and took considerable skill to aim and allow for ballistic drop after firing, "the sheer firepower of just one Typhoon was equivalent to a destroyer’s broadside".
By the end of 1943, eighteen rocket-equipped Typhoon squadrons formed the basis of the RAF Second Tactical Air Force (2nd TAF) ground attack arm in Europe. In theory, the rocket rails and bomb-racks were interchangeable; in practice, to simplify supply, some used the rockets only, while other squadrons were armed exclusively with bombs, what also allowed individual units to more finely hone their skills with their assigned weapons.
The Typhoon was initially exclusively operated in the European theatre of operations, but in 1944 it was clear that a dedicated variant might become useful for the RAF’s operations in South-East Asia. In the meantime, Hawker had also developed what was originally an improved Typhoon II, but the differences between it and the Mk I were so great that it was effectively a different aircraft, and it was renamed the Hawker Tempest. However, as a fallback option and as a stopgap filler for the SEAC, Hawker also developed the Typhoon Mk. IV, a tropicalized late Mk. I with a bubble canopy and powered by the new Bristol Centaurus radial engine that could better cope with high ambient temperatures than the original liquid-cooled Sabre engine. The Centaurus IV chosen for the Typhoon Mk. IV also offered slightly more power than the Sabre and the benefit of reduced vulnerability to small arms fire at low altitude, since the large and vulnerable chin cooler could be dispensed with.
3,518 Typhoons of all variants were eventually built, 201 of them late Mk. IVs, almost all by Gloster. Once the war in Europe was over Typhoons were quickly removed from front-line squadrons; by October 1945 the Typhoon was no longer in operational use, with many of the wartime Typhoon units such as 198 Squadron being either disbanded or renumbered.
The SEAC’s few operational Mk IVs soldiered on, however, were partly mothballed after 1945 and eventually in 1947 handed over or donated to regional nascent air forces after their countries’ independence like India, Pakistan or Burma, where they served as fighters and fighter bombers well into the Sixties.
The Burmese Air Force; initially only called “The military”, since there was no differentiation between the army’s nascent servies, was founded on 16 January 1947, while Burma (as Myanmar was known until 1989) was still under British rule. By 1948, the fleet of the new air force included 40 Airspeed Oxfords, 16 de Havilland Tiger Moths, four Austers, and eight Typhoon Mk. IVs as well as three Supermarine Spitfires transferred from the Royal Air Force and had a few hundred personnel.
The Mingaladon Air Base HQ, the main air base in the country, was formed on 16 June 1950. No.1 Squadron, Equipment Holding Unit and Air High Command — Burma Air Force, and the Flying Training School, were placed under the jurisdiction of the base. A few months later, on 18 December 1950, No. 2 Squadron was formed with nine Douglas Dakotas as a transport squadron. In 1953, the Advanced Flying Unit was formed under the Mingaladon Air Base with de Havilland Vampire T55s, and by the end of 1953 the Burmese Air Force had three main airbases, at Mingaladon, Hmawbi, and Meiktila, in central Burma.
In 1953, the Burmese Air Force bought 30 Supermarine Spitfires from Israel and 20 Supermarine Seafires as well as 22 more Typhoon Mk. IVs from the United Kingdom. In 1954 it bought 40 Percival Provost T-53s and 8 de Havilland Vampire Mark T55s from the United Kingdom and two years later, in 1956, the Burmese Air Force bought 10 Cessna 180 aircraft from the United States. The same year, 6 Kawasaki Bell 47Gs formed its first helicopter unit. The following year, the Burmese Air Force procured 21 Hawker Sea Fury aircraft from the United Kingdom and 9 de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otters from Canada. In 1958, it procured 7 additional Kawasaki Bell 47Gs and 12 Vertol H-21 Shawnees from the United States. Five years later, No. 503 Squadron Group was formed with No. 51 Squadron (de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otters and Cessna 180s) and No. 53 Squadron (Bell 47Gs, Kaman HH-43 Huskies, and Aérospatiale Alouettes) in Meiktila.
When the non-Burman ethnic groups pushed for autonomy or federalism, alongside having a weak civilian government at the center, the military leadership staged a coup d’état in 1962, and this was the only conflict in which the aging Burmese Typhoons became involved. On 2 March 1962, the military led by General Ne Win took control of Burma through a coup d’état, and the government had been under direct or indirect control by the military since then. Between 1962 and 1974, Myanmar was ruled by a revolutionary council headed by the general. Almost all aspects of society (business, media, production) were nationalized or brought under government control under the Burmese Way to Socialism, which combined Soviet-style nationalization and central planning, and also meant the end of operation of many aircraft of Western origin, including the last surviving Burmese Typhoons, which were probably retired by 1964. The last piston engine fighters in Burmese service, the Hawker Sea Furies, are believed to have been phased out in 1968.
Length: 32 ft 6 in (9.93 m)
Wingspan: 41 ft 7 in (12.67 m)
Height: 15 ft 4 in (4.67 m)
Wing area: 279 sq ft (25.9 m²)
Airfoil: root: NACA 2219; tip: NACA 2213
Empty weight: 8,840 lb (4,010 kg)
Gross weight: 11,400 lb (5,171 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 13,250 lb (6,010 kg) with two 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
1× Bristol Centaurus IV 18-cylinder air-cooled radial engine with 2,210 hp (1,648 kW) take-off
power, driving a 4-bladed Rotol constant-speed propeller
Maximum speed: 412 mph (663 km/h, 358 kn) at 19,000 ft (5,800 m)
Stall speed: 88 mph (142 km/h, 76 kn)
Range: 510 mi (820 km, 440 nmi) with two 500 lb (230 kg) bombs;
690 mi (1,110 km) "clean";
1,090 mi (1,750 km) with two 45 imp gal (200 l; 54 US gal) drop tanks.
Service ceiling: 35,200 ft (10,700 m)
Rate of climb: 2,740 ft/min (13.9 m/s)
Wing loading: 40.9 lb/sq ft (200 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.20 hp/lb (0.33 kW/kg)
4× 20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano Mk II cannon in the outer wings with 200 rpg
Underwing hardpoints for 8× RP-3 unguided air-to-ground rockets,
or 2× 500 lb (230 kg) or 2× 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs or a pair of drop tanks
The kit and its assembly:
The Hawker Typhoon is IMHO an overlooked WWII aircraft, and it’s also “underwiffed”. I have actually built no single Typhoon in my 45 years of model kit building — time to change that!
Inspiration was a lot of buzz in the model kit builder community after KP’s launch of several Hawker Tempest kits, with all major variants including the Sabre- and Centaurus-powered types. While the Tempest quickly outpaced the Typhoon in real life and took the glory, I wondered about a Centaurus-powered version for the SEA theatre of operations – similar to the Tempest Mk. II, which just came too late to become involved in the conflict against the Japanese forces. A similar Typhoon variant could have arrived a couple of months earlier, though.
Technically, this conversion is just an Academy Hawker Typhoon Mk Ib (a late variant without the “car door”, a strutless bubble canopy and a four-blade propeller) mated with the optional Centaurus front end from a Matchbox Hawker Tempest. Sounds simple, but there are subtle dimensional differences between the types/kits, and the wing roots of the Matchbox kit differ from the Academy kit, so that the engine/fuselage intersection as well as the wing roots called for some tailoring and PSR. However, the result of this transplantation stunt looked better and more natural than expected! Since I did not want to add extra fairings for air carburetor and oil cooler to the Wings (as on the Tempest), I gave the new creation a generous single fairing for both under the nose – the space between the wide landing gear wells offered a perfect location, and I used a former Spitfire radiator as donor part. The rest, including the unguided missiles under the wings was ordnance, was taken OOB, and the propeller (from the Academy kit) received an adapter consisting of styrene tubes to match it with the Matchbox kit’s engine and its opening for the propeller axis.
Painting and markings:
This was initially a challenge since the early Burmese aircraft were apparently kept in bare metal or painted in silver overall. This would certainly have looked interesting on a Typhoon, too – but then I found a picture of a Spitfire (UB 421) at Myanmar’s Air Force Museum at Naypyidaw, which carries camouflage – I doubt that it is authentic, though, at least the colors, which markedly differ from RAF Dark Green/Dark Earth and the bright blue undersides also look rather fishy. But it was this paint scheme that I adapted for my Burmese Typhoon with Modelmaster 2027 (FS 34096, B-52 Dark Green, a rather greyish and light tone) and 2107 (French WWII Chestnut, a reddish, rich chocolate brown tone) from above and Humbrol 145 (FS 35237, USN Gray Blue) below – a less garish tone.
As usual, the model received a black ink washing and post-panel-shading for dramatic effect; the cockpit interior became very dark grey (Revell 06 Anthracite) while the landing gear became Medium Sea Grey (Humbrol 165), as a reminder of the former operator of the aircraft and its painting standards. The red spinner as well as the red-and-white-checkered rudder were inspired by Burmese Hawker Sea Furies, a nice contrast to the camouflage. It’s also a decal, from a tabletop miniatures accessory sheet. This contrast was furthermore underlined through the bright and colorful national markings, which come from a Carpena decal sheet for exotic Spitfires, just the tactical code was changed.
After some signs of wear with dry-brushed silver and some graphite soot stains around the exhausts and the guns the model was sealed with matt acrylic varnish.
Voilà, a whiffy Hawker Typhoon – and it looks better than expected. Not only does the brawny Centaurus look good on the rather burly Typhoon, the transplantation worked out better than expected, too. However, with the radial engine the Typhoon looks even more like an Fw 190 on steroids?
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