Compromised from the outset by a host of design and development difficulties, and no less by a disastrously accelerated engine development that left unsolved numerous weaknesses when it entered service, the Hawker Typhoon was intended to replace the Hurricane as an interceptor. However, after the anti-climactic debacle over Dieppe and its singularly disappointing performance as an interceptor, the Typhoon came to be recognized as potentially an effective ground-attack fighter and, following trials at Boscombe Down in 1942, it resumed cross-Channel operations carrying a pair of 113-kg (250-lb) bombs to supplement its four 20-mm Hispano cannon armament. Flying alongside the aged 'Hurnbombers', Typhoon Mk IB fighter-bombers of Nos 175, 181 and 245 Squadrons continued the 'Channel Stop' operations throughout 1943, while others ventured over enemyoccupied France and the Low Countries, attacking airfields, road and rail traffic and other key targets. Early operations had shown the Typhoon Mk IA, with its wing armament of 12 7,7-mm (0.303-in) Browning machine-guns, to be relatively ineffective in the ground-attack role, and this version was discontinued. Another weakness was found to lie in the joint of the tail unit to the rear fuselage, numerous early accidents being ascribed to the entire tail unit becoming detached in flight, for which a crude remedy was effected by simply riveting numerous plates around the joint.
An early operational problem lay in the Typhoon's superficial resemblance to the FockeWulf Fw 190, resulting in a number of aircraft being shot down by 'friendly' guns, until prominent black and white recognition stripes were painted under the Typhoon's inner wing sections. For all these unfortunate tribulations the chunky aeroplane emerged in 1944 as one of the most powerful weapons m the Allies' armoury when the Normandy invasion was launched in June that year. With a bombload progressively increased to 907 kg (2,000 lb), the Typhoon was also used with devastating effect as a rocketfiring fighter, eliminating vital enemy coastal radar stations before the landings themselves and destroying German armoured concentrations as the Allies broke out of the beach-head. Always something of a handful to fly, the Typhoon nevertheless provided an overwhelming form of powerful, accurate and mobile artillery for the Allies as they surged through northern Europe in the last nine months of the war.
Specification Hawker Typhoon Mk IB
Type: single-seat fighter-bomber
Powerplant: one 2,180-hp (1626-kW) Napier Sabre II liquid-cooled H-24 piston engine
Performance: maximum speed 652 km/h (405 mph) at 5485 m (18,000 ft); climb to 4570 m (15,000 ft) in 6 minutes 12 seconds; service ceiling 10365 m (34,000 ft); range with bombs 820 km (510 miles)
Weights: empty 3993 kg (8,800 lb); maximum take-off 6341 kg(13,980 lb)
Dimensions: span 12.67 m (41 ft 7 in); length 9.73 m (31 ft 11 in); height 4.66 m (15 ft 29 in); wing area 25.92 m2 (279 sq ft)
Armament: four wing-mounted 20-mm cannon, plus either two 454-kg (1,000Ib) bombs or eight 27.2-kg (60-lb) rocket projectiles