Hawker Typhoon "Unwrapped"

Birmingham, Eng (Special to Aviation) — Indicating both a compilation of combat experience and ironing out of design and production "bugs," details of the new Hawker Typhoon fighter have been released by the British Air Ministry. The Typhoon has been in service with the RAF for some months, but details have been withheld because of secrecy surrounding its Napier Sabre engine and the Air Ministry's policy of keeping aircraft on the restricted list until it is certain the enemy possesses essential information but also until the design and engineering modification headaches have been remedied.

0fficially credited with a top speed of approximately 400 mph, the plane is unofficially reported to have a maximum of closer to 420. It is powered by a 24-cyl sleeve-valve "H"-section Napier Sabre officially rated at 2,000 hp. Recently published reports have hinted at 2,400 hp, and there is no doubt that the latter figure will be reached.

The engine has twin crankshafts, geared together, driving a common shaft which locates a spur gear for propeller reduction gearing . The layout is similar to previous Napier Dagger design, but in the new installation the engine lies on its side so that the cylinders are on a horizontal axis. This permits greater access by bringing cylinder heads, spark plugs, and other components, into better servicing position than the vertical cylinder arrangement of earlier developments.

General appearance of the plane is considered homely, due to a large bulbous cowl under the nose, just aft of the propeller, housing large engine coolant and oil radiators. Air flow through the radiators is controlled by a mechanically-operated flap.

This large cowl makes the plane appear to have a radial engine, giving a strong resemblance to the German Focke-Wulf 190. This similarity is so close, in fact, that distinguishing markings are painted on the underside of the wings.

The pilot's cockpit also resembles that of the Focke-Wulf 190, though it is shorter and of the fixed type. Unlike normal British practice, pilot's entry to the cockpit is through a wide door in the fuselage side. This type has been found to give easier entry and exit than the sliding tops of the Spitfire and Hurricane.

The Typhoon is a low-wing all-metal monoplane of stressed-skin construction with an Alclad-covered monocoque fuselage. It bears some resemblance to its predecessor, the Hawker Hurricane, except that the side view does not have the familiar "broken back" characteristic. Wing is of normal Hawker construction but has negative dihedral out to the landing gear hinge point. This negative dihedral is not, however, as pronounced as that on the American-built Vought F4U Corsair. The mono-spar, of exceptionally rugged construction, is built of extruded aluminum members with riveted fish plates and cross plates.

Test flights revealed the necessity for unusual care in the flush riveting of skin surfaces, since a few ill-fitting rivets or small lumps in skin panels caused great variations in maximum speeds. It was also found that normal camouflage paint had too high a drag factor, but research developed a new external finish which is said to be entirely satisfactory.

The Dowty-designed landing gear greatly resembles that on the Focke-Wulf 190, having an exceptionally wide tread. Both main and tail wheel retract hydraulically, with fairing completely covering the main wheels in the "up" position.

Armament is disclosed as consisting of four 20-mm Hispano cannon, or twelve .303-cal. machine guns. This is no heavier than that of the latest Hurricanes, but it, is expected that later Typhoons will mount either more guns or heavier-caliber weapons. Fact that this newest plane carries the same armament as the Hurricane indicates that speed is figured as one of the most important of its weapons.

This new craft has been used on medium-range raids against enemy transport operations and as an interceptor against bomb-carrying Focke-Wulf 190s on their recent sporadic raids over Britain's south coast. The Typhoon is reported to have a greater rate of climb than even the latest Spitfire but, due to its greater weight, its maneuverability is not quite equal to the Spits, especially at altitudes. Despite its great speed, however, it is reported to be light on the controls and to respond very quickly.

This article was originally published in the June, 1943, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 42, no 6, pp 239, 241, 355.
The original article includes 3 photos. Photos credited to British Combine.