Hawker Tempest Mk.II First Flight!

Hawker Tempest II G-TEMT takes to the air, Pete Kynsey at the controls. [Photo by Damien Burke]
Aircorps Art Dec 2019


The world finally has a flying Hawker Tempest! Pete Kynsey made the maiden post-restoration flight in Tempest Mk.II MW763 today (October 10, 2023) at Sywell Aerodrome in Northhamptonshire, England following the airframe’s extensive rebuild with Anglia Aircraft Restoration Ltd. This marks the first time a Tempest, of any marque, has flown in more than half a century. While the Mk.II arrived too late to see service in WWII, unlike the Mk.V, it was one of the most powerful, piston-engined fighter aircraft ever built, and a worthy successor to its forebear, the Hawker Typhoon. 

MW763 rolled off Hawker’s assembly line at their factory in Langley, Berkshire during 1945. It was built to satisfy an Air Ministry contract (ACFT/2438/C.23(a)) for Britain’s Royal Air Force, but with WWII over and jet fighters on the way, the Tempest was soon surplus to requirements. Hawker purchased MW763 from retired RAF stocks in 1948, refurbishing the Tempest, along with a number of other examples, for the nascent Indian Air Force. It started its IAF service in 1949, joining No. 5 Squadron.

An anonymous Indian Air Force Tempest II relegated to being a decoy at Poona. [Photo James Kightly Collection]

India retired most of their Tempests during the early to mid-1950s, using some of their moribund airframes (including MW763) as decoys at Poona Air Base. About a dozen Tempest IIs lingered at there as derelicts until the late 1970s, when the renowned warbird salvager, Doug Arnold, acquired a half dozen or so of the survivors in various states of disrepair. He shipped them back to Britain in 1979.

New Tempest IIs of the first production batch at Hawker Aircraft. Note the closely cowled engine and the carburettor and oil-cooler intakes in the starboard wing’s inner leading edge.

Arnold soon parted ways with the Tempests, selling them to Nick Grace and Chris Horsley in 1980. Brian Angliss acquired MW763 in 1988, and his company, Autokraft, began restoring it at Brooklands the following year. The project changed hands again in 1996,  with Gerry Cooper’s Tempest Two Ltd taking over the restoration at Sandtoft. Progress seemed good at the time, with the airframe soon regaining its original RAF camouflage colors as MW763 and with the codes HF-L (of 54, previously 183 Squadron RAF) but despite this visual sign of progress, the Tempest didn’t make it past the final hurdles into airworthy condition until after Graham Peacock’s acquisition in 2014. Anglia Restorations took over the restoration, moving the project to their base at Sywell. They completed all of the structural and most of the systems work, barring the engine, about 18 months ago.

North Weald Heritage Aviation overhauled the now very rare Bristol Centaurus Mk.VI powerplant. It is presently the only airworthy example of this variant anywhere in the world, much like the aircraft it powers. Anglia Restorations repainted the Tempest to represent an example from RAF No.33 Squadron during the Malayan Emergency in the late 1940s. The aircraft looks magnificent in the air, as the accompanying images attest.

Many thanks indeed to Damien Burke for the photographs and to Ben Brown at the Sywell Aviation Museum for assisting with this article.

Array

18 Comments

  1. This is great news after so many years of work!
    Well done to everybody concerned.
    I look forward to seeing the Tempest at future displays.

      • The Tempest Mk.II was (and here is) powered by the Bristol Centaurus. We’re still awaiting the first running Napier Sabre on a Tempest or Typhoon project – but there are some in process. Stay tuned!

        • The first Napier sabre powered Tempest to fly again should be decorated to the colours of Pierre Clostermann’s one = JF-E / NV724 “Le Grand Charles” at 3rd squadron with 33 victories ! Anyway great to see this Centaurus powered Tempest flying after such an amazing work ! Congrats to all involved !

          • Kermit Weeks has an ex-486(NZ)Squadron MkV Tempest, and given he prefers original presentation (especially of actual combat veteran machines) its most likely to be seen in its ‘Kiwi’ unit livery.

            Too bad KW’s Tempest double-restoration has ‘stalled’ again, (he has a Mk II & a MkV), maybe Kiwi Peter Jackson (Movie director/warbird fan)
            could make an offer to KW, to ‘take under his wing’ the project?

            Does anyone know if this has ever been mooted?

          • Sir Peter Jackson’s interest is very much WWI, rather than WWII, so while I’m sure it’s a suggestion that could get made, it is unlikely to have much traction. But who knows what might come off!

      • Kermit Weeks is restoring a Mark V and a guy in Canada, who is restoring a Typhoon, has acquired a Sabre from New Zealand.

      • Yeah, the Brits scrapped every Napier Sabre powered machine they had.
        Not even a single Typhoon was saved post-war, in British hands, none!

        This occurred even though the RAF had kept its Sabre-powered Tempests
        flying ’til the mid 1950s on target-tug duties, for jet pilot training.

        Ironically, the RAF museum’s Typhoon was the sole unit saved intact, due to
        being ‘stateside’ for WW2 evaluation and then kept there, post-war in USA.

        The RAF museum’s Sabre-Tempest was belatedly cobbled together with various
        remnants from scrapped machines, after due realization that none had been preserved intact.

        The British even scrapped the best example of their ‘ultimate’ piston-engine
        fighter (prototype Sabre-Fury VP 207 – which had been intact at the Hawker
        works through the 1950s) long after they’d destroyed every D-H Hornet and V-S Spiteful, (although it is potentially possible to recreate them – nowadays).

      • Hi James, IIRC, in this instance – the term ‘marque’ would more properly refer to the maker, (Hawker) and the term ‘mark’ (Mk) be applied to the ‘type’ (Tempest) – with the numeral indication addition of ‘sub-type’ and perhaps even an added alphabetic suffix (as per Typhoon Mk IA/B with .303/20mm armament). Later the RAF changed to a basic alpha-numeric code style – viz: Tempest MkVI became Tempest F.6.

        Hope this helps clarify the complexity a bit.

        Thanks for the reply regarding Sir Peter Jackson, its gotta be worth an ask.
        (And I must credit you for getting the ‘Sir’ honorary prefix denoting ‘knight’ correctly – by including fore and surnames, not ‘Sir Jackson’ as many seem to do – even if Peter is very ‘down to earth’ himself, personally.

  2. My Dad, Angus Mackay flew Temp IIs with 16 Sqn at Fassberg immediately post WW2 and would have been so pleased to see what Nick Grace and his team have achieved… a remarkable achievement and a lovely flying addition to those great Hawker piston engined fighters that were so important to us as a Nation back then!

  3. I believe the late Nick Grace had always wanted to restore and fly a Tempest. What a fitting tribute that his brilliant son, Richard and his team have completed and flown this potent aircraft. Congratulations to you all.

Graphic Design, Branding and Aviation Art

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*