Category Archives: Fighter

Fighter

Hawker Hurrican Mk IIC, (Matchbox)

TYPE: Fighter, fighter-bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Rolls-Royce Merlin XX liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,185 hp

PERFORMANCE: 340 mph at 21,000 ft

COMMENT: The Hawker Hurricane was a British single-seat fighter aircraft of the 1930s–40s that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd. for service with the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was overshadowed in the public consciousness by the Supermarine Spitfire’s role during the Battle of Britain in 1940, but the Hurricane inflicted 60 percent of the losses sustained by the German Luftwaffe in the engagement, and fought in all the major theatres of the Second World War. The Hurricane was developed through several versions, into bomber-interceptors, fighter-bombers, and ground support aircraft as well as fighters. Versions designed for the Royal Navy known as the Sea Hurricane had modifications enabling operation from ships. Some were converted as catapult-launched convoy escorts. By the end of production in July 1944, most oft he 14,487 Hurricanes had been completed in Britain and Canada.
In June 1936, the Hurricane was formally ordered into production, the Air Ministry having placed its first order that month for 600 aircraft. On 26 June 1936, the type name “Hurricane”, which had been proposed by Hawker, was approved by the Air Ministry
A key reason for the aircraft’s appeal was its relatively simple construction and ease of manufacture. In comparison to the Supermarine Spitfire, it was significantly cheaper and involved less labour, requiring 10,300 man hours to produce versus 15,200 for the Spitfire. As a large-scale war was looking increasingly likely, and time was of the essence in providing the RAF with an effective fighter aircraft, it was unclear if the more advanced Spitfire would enter production smoothly, while the Hurricane made use of well-understood manufacturing techniques.
On 12 October 1937, the maiden flight took place of the first production Hurricane I, which was powered by a Merlin II engine. Production deliveries had been delayed by roughly six months due to a decision to equip the Hurricane only with the improved Merlin II engine, while the earlier Merlin I had been prioritised for the Fairey Battle and the Hawker Henley. By the following December, the first four aircraft to enter service with the.RAF. By February 1938, No. 111 Squadron had received 16 Hurricanes. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, over 550 Hurricanes had been produced, which had equipped a total of 18 squadrons, while a further 3,500 aircraft were on order.
The Hawker Hurricane was a low-wing cantilever monoplane outfitted with retractable undercarriage and an enclosed cockpit for the pilot. A clean, single-seat fighter, it was developed to provide a competent combatant for aerial combat against the latest fighter designs that were emerging amongst the air services of other powers of the era. The Hurricane was typically equipped for flying under both day and night conditions, being provided with navigation lights, landing lights, complete blind-flying equipment, and two-way radios.
The design of the Hurricane’s construction was already considered to be somewhat outdated when introduced to service and resembled those used on the earlier biplanes. Hawker had decided to employ its traditional construction techniques instead of radical measures such as the adoption of a stressed-skin metal exterior.  An all-metal, stressed-skin wing of duraluminium was introduced in April 1939 and was used for all of the later marks. “The metal skinned wings allowed a diving speed that was 80 mph higher than the fabric-covered ones. The great advantage of the metal-covered wings over the fabric ones was that the metal ones could carry far greater stress loads without needing so much structure beneath
First production version was the Hurricane Mk I, with fabric-covered wings, a wooden two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller or three bladed variable pitch propeller.
The Hurricane Mk I (revised) had constant speed metal, metal-covered wings, armour and other improvements. A total of 4,200 Mk I were built by Hawker, Gloster Aircraft Company and Canadian Car and Foundry.
Next, the Hurricane Mk IIB (Hurricane IIA Series 2) were fitted with racks allowing them to carry two 110 kg or two 230 kg bombs. This lowered the top speed of the Hurricane to 301 mph, but by this point mixed sweeps of Hurricanes carrying bombs, protected by a screen of fighter Hurricanes were not uncommon.
Hurricane Mk IIA Series 1 was equipped with a new and slightly longer propeller, spinner, and 4 additional wing-mounted .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns; for a total of 12 guns. The first aircraft were built in February 1941 and were renamed Mark IIB in April 1941. A total of 3,050 IIB built until November 1942.
The Hurricane Mk IIC (Hurricane Mk IIA Series 2) was equipped with new and slightly longer propeller and spinner, and fully replaced the machine-gun armament with four 20 mm Hispano Mk II cannons and a slightly modified wing. The new wings also included a hardpoint for a 500 or 110 kg bomb and, later in 1941, for fuel tanks. By then performance was inferior to the latest German fighters, and the Hurricane changed to the ground-attack role, sometimes referred to as the Hurribomber. There were 4,711 Hurricane Mk IIC built by Hawker between February 1941 and July 1944.
Later important versions were the Hurricane Mk IID and Hurricane Mk IV. Overall, some 14,487 Hurricanes and Sea Hurricanes were produced from 1937 to 1944 in England and Canada. This excellent and versatile aircraft was the basis for the development of its successor, the Hawker Typhoon (Ref.: 24)

Hawker “Typhoon” Mk. IB, 143th SQN (Airfix)

TYPE: Interceptor, fighter bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Napier “Sabre” IIC liquid-cooled engine, rated at 2,180 hp

PERFORMANCE: 412 mph at 19,000 ft

COMMENT: The Hawker “Typhoon” (“Tiffy” in RAF slang), 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.
The “Typhoon” was originally designed to mount twelve Browning Machine guns and be powered by the latest 2000 hp engines. Its service introduction in mid-1941 was plagued with problems and for several months the aircraft faced a doubtful future. When the Luftwaffe brought the formidable 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 contemporary standards, the new design’s wing was very “thick”, similar to the “Hurricane” before it. Although the “Typhoon” was expected to achieve over 400 mph in level flight at 20,000 ft, the thick wings created a large drag rise and prevented higher speeds than the 410 mph at 20,000 feet achieved in tests. The climb rate and performance above that level was also considered disappointing. When the “Typhoon” was dived at speeds of over 500 mph, the drag rise caused buffeting and trim changes. These compressibility problems led to Hawker designing the “Typhoon II”, later known as the “Tempest”, which used much thinner wings with a laminar flow airfoil.
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 Supermarine “Spitfire” Mk IX. The powerful engine allowed the aircraft to carry a load of up to two 454 kg bombs, equal to the light bombers of only a few years earlier. The bomb-equipped aircraft were nicknamed “Bombphoons” and entered service with No. 181 Squadron, formed in September 1942
Starting in January 1943, a “Typhoon” was used to test a new, clear, one piece sliding “bubble” canopy and its associated new windscreen structure which had slimmer frames which, together with the “cut-down” rear dorsal fairing, provided a far superior all-around field of view to the car-door type. From November 1943 all production aircraft were to be so fitted. However, the complex modifications required to the fuselage and a long lead time for new components to reach the production line meant that it took some time before the new canopy became standard. Production of the “Typhoon”, which was entirely the responsibility of Gloster Aircraft, totaled 3,330 machines (Ref.: 24)

De Havilland DH.100 ‚Vampire‘ Mk.I (Heller)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter, fighter bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One de Havilland ‘Goblin’ 3 centrifugal turbojet engine, rated at 1,500 kp

PERFORMANCE: 548 mph

COMMENT: The de Havilland ‘Vampire’ was a British turbojet fighter developed and manufactured during the WW II to harness the newly developed turbojet engine. The ‘Vampire’ entered service with the RAF in 1945 and was the second jet fighter, after the Gloster ‘Meteor’, operated by the RAF, and its first to be powered by a single jet engine. After Air Ministry specification E.6/41 was raised to provide official support for two prototypes of the jet fighter, design work on the DH.100 began at the de Havilland works in mid-1942, two years after the ‘Meteor’. Originally named the ‘Spider Crab’, the aircraft was entirely a de Havilland project, exploiting the company’s extensive experience in building with moulded plywood for aircraft construction. Many of the basic design features were first used in their famous ‘Mosquito’ fast bomber. It had conventional straight mid-wings and a single jet engine placed in an egg-shaped, aluminum-skinned fuselage, exhausting in a straight line. Armament was four 20mm Hispano Mk V cannon under the nose, with air brakes in the wings to slow the aircraft so as to be able to get into a firing position behind slower aircraft – a feature also incorporated in the ‘Meteor`. The Vampire was considered to be a largely experimental design due to its unorthodox arrangement and the use of a single engine, unlike the Gloster ‘Meteor’ which was already specified for production. The low power output of early jet engines meant that only twin-engine aircraft designs were considered practical; but as more powerful engines were developed, particularly Halford’s H.1 (later known as the ‘Goblin’), a single-engined jet fighter became possible. De Havilland were approached to produce an airframe for the H.1, and their first design, the DH.99, was an all-metal, twin-boom, tricycle undercarriage aircraft armed with four cannon. The use of a twin boom kept the jet pipe short, avoiding the power loss of a long pipe that would have been needed in a conventional fuselage. The DH.99 was modified to a mixed wood-and-metal construction in light of Ministry of Aircraft Production recommendations, and the design was renumbered to DH.100 by November 1941. The first prototype made its maiden flight on September 1943, only six months after the ‘Meteor’s’ maiden flight. The first Vampire flight had been delayed due to the need to send the only available engine fit for flight to America to replace one destroyed in ground engine runs in Lockheed’s prototype XP-80 Shooting Star. The production Vampire Mk I did not fly until April 1945, with most being built by English Electric Aircraft factories due to the pressures on de Havilland’s production facilities, which were busy with other types. Although eagerly taken into service by the RAF, it was still being developed at war’s end, and never saw combat in the Second World War.

Noteworthy is the fact that the de Havilland DH 100 “Vampire” had great similarity with the contemporary German Focke-Wulf Projekt VII “Flitzer” (“Streaker” or “Dasher”) (Ref.: 24).

De Havilland D.H.103 ‘Hornet’ F.1 (Frog)

TYPE: Long-range fighter and fighter-bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: Two Rolls-Royce ‘Merlin’ 130/131 liquid-cooled engines, rated at 2,030 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 472 mph at 22,000 ft

COMMENT: The de Havilland D.H.103 ‘Hornet’ was perhaps the most graceful twin-engined monoplane to be produced by any combatants during WW II. The experience gained by the company with the de Havilland ‘Mosquito’, coupled with a need for a long-range, single-seat fighter for the use in what appeared likely to be a prolonged island-hopping in the South Pacific against the Japanese, led to the design of an unusual clean ’Merlin’-powered aircraft. The first prototype D.H.103, officially to be named ‘Hornet’, was flown on July 1944. Production of sixty ‘Hornet’ F.1s was commenced late in 1944, and the first aircraft off the line flew on February 1945. The prototypes of the ‘Hornet’ had achieved the phenomenal speed of 485 mph and with full operational equipment the production ‘Hornet’ F.1 was only a shade slower at 472 mph. The ‘Hornet’ was too late to see operational service during WW II, however, the first squadron, No 64, re-equipped early in 1946. A conversion of the ‘Hornet’ F.1 initiated before the end of war was the navalisation of two machines for use on carriers. Equipped with folding wings, these aircraft were named ‘Sea Hornet’ (Ref.: 12)

Supermarine ‘Spitfire’ F Mk. XIV, 610 SQN (Fujimi)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter, fighter bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Rolls-Royce ‘Griffon III’ liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,735 hp

PERFORMANCE: 448 mph at 18,000 ft

COMMENT: In order to boost the performance of the Spitfire Mk. IV it was intended to replace the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine by a single stage Rolls-Royce Griffon IIb liquid-cooled engine, driving a four-blade airscrew. In order to avoid confusion the Griffon engine prototype was redesigned as Spitfire Mk. XX. So in consequence all Griffon-powered Spitfires would be designated in the Mk. XX series, but this plan was not adhered to when the interim Griffon-powered Mk. XII, XIV, XVII and XIX were produced. The Spitfire Mk. IV alias Mk. XX was made the subject of production contracts during the period that the prototype was under development, and 750 were ordered in autumn 1941. But in fact, none was produced in this form. In spring 1942 the need arose suddenly for a high-performance low-altitude fighter to combat the low-flying Focke-Wulf Fw 190. The availability of the improved version of the two-stage Griffon engine led to an interim variant of the Spitfire, designated Mk. XIV. As initially produced, this aircraft had what was, apart from some strengthening of the fuselage, a standard Mk. VIII airframe married to a Griffon 65 engine which drove a five-blade Rotol airscrew. The vertical surfaces were enlarged and the “C” wing was used. In total 975 Spitfire Mk. XIV were produced, 527 fighter and 430 fighter-reconnaissance aircraft. The Spitfire Mk. XIV gained the distinction of destroying the first Messerschmitt Me 262 in fighter-versus-fighter combat, this event taking place on October 5, 1944 (Ref.: 12).

Gloster ‘Meteor’ Mk. I (MPM)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: Two Rolls Royce ‘Wellent’ 1 turbojet engines, rated at 771 kp each

PERFORMANCE: 410 mph at 30,000 ft

COMMENT: Early in 1940, Gloster Aircraft’s design team was entrusted with the design of a single-seat interceptor fighter to specification F9/40, the first specification ever prepared in Britain for an operational turbojet aircraft. Gloster had some experience in handling the turbojet engine as a new power unit for aircraft: The Gloster E.28/39 ‘Pioneer’ was the first jet-powered aircraft to fly in Britain.  Now, the result of the new design, the ‘Meteor’, was the first jet aircraft to enter squadron service with the RAF, and the only Allied jet aircraft to see operational service during World War II. A conventional twin-engine layout was adopted for the new fighter and on February 1941, and the Ministry of Aircraft production placed an order for twelve prototypes. In the event, only eight of the prototypes were completed, the first of these commencing taxiing trials on July 1942, powered by low thrust delivering non-flying Rover W.2B turbojets. Difficulties with the more powerful Power Jets W.2/500 resulted in the installation of RoverB.23 engines and the first flight of the ‘Meteor’ was made on July, 1943. A variety of other engines were tested in the prototypes until the first twenty ‘Meteor I’ were delivered to the RAF and on August 1944 one of these scored the first confirmed victory by a British jet fighter when a V-1 missile was destroyed by tipping it over with its wing and thus causing it to crash. And although in service at the ending stage of WW II the Gloster ‘Meteor” was never encountered in the air with the German Messerschmitt Me 262 ‘Schwalbe’ (Ref.: 12).

Vickers 432 (Kora Models)

TYPE: High altitude interceptor fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: Two Rolls-Royce Merlin 61 liquid-cooled engines, rated at 1,520 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 440 mph at 28,000 ft

COMMENT: The possibility of Luftwaffe aircraft operating over the United Kingdom at altitudes beyond the capabilities of existing RAF fighters led the Air Ministry to the decision to call for a specialized high altitude interceptor according to specification F.16/40. Vickers tendered the Type 432, which at one time dubbed unofficially the “Mayfly” that flew for the first time in December 1942 some seven weeks after the competitive Westland P.14 “Welkin”. Embodying a pressurization system similar to that for the Wellington V and VI bombers, the Type 432 prototype had a relatively small, self-contained pressure cabin for the pilot whose head projected through a small, double-glazed dome or bubble which hinged to one side for better entrance and exit. Initial trials proved the Type 432 to be difficult to handle on the ground, although it processed an excellent performance once in the air, with a substantially higher maximum speed than that of the “Welkin”. Nevertheless, the Westland fighter was selected for production and flight trials with the sole Type 432 prototype continued until December 1944 when the machine was finally scrapped (Ref.:  12).

Gloster E.28/39 ‘Pioneer’ (Frog)

TYPE: Experimental aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Power Jets W.1 turbojet, rated at 390 kp thrust

PERFORMANCE: 338 mph at 10,000 ft

COMMENT: The Gloster E.28/39, also referred to as the ‘Gloster Whittle’, ‘Gloster Pioneer’, or ‘Gloster G.40’, was the first British turbojet-engined aircraft to fly. It was designed to test the Whittle turbojet engine in flight, leading to the development of the Gloster ‘Meteor‘. In September 1939, the Air Ministry issued a specification to Gloster for an aircraft to test one of Frank Whittle’s turbojet designs in flight. The E.28/39 name comes from the aircraft having been built to the 28th “Experimental” specification of the Air Ministry in 1939. Gloster’s engineers, working closely with Whittle, laid out a small low-wing aircraft of conventional configuration. The jet intake was in the nose, and the single tail-fin and elevators were mounted above the jet-pipe, although due to uncertainty about the spinning characteristics of a jet aircraft, at in an earlier design stage twin fins and rudders were considered. Two jet pipe/rear fuselage arrangements were also originally considered due to the potential loss of thrust through the jet pipe itself, a ‘short jet’ with a cutaway rear fuselage and short exhaust necessitating the tail plane to be carried on booms, and a ‘long jet’ with a fully enclosed jet pipe; the ‘long jet’ was subsequently selected. A contract for two prototypes was signed by the Air Ministry on February 1940, and the first prototype was completed by April 1941. Although the initial flight tests were relatively early in WW II, the German Heinkel He 178 turbojet aircraft, powered by a Heinkel HeS3 turbojet rated at 450 kp had been first test-flown on 27 August 1939, at Rostok-Marienehe on the Baltic Sea, days before the outbreak of the war (Ref.: 23).

Supermarine Spiteful Mk. XIV (Czechmaster)

TYPE: Low- and medium-altitude fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Rolls-Royce Griffon 69 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 2,375 hp

PERFORMANCE: 483 mph at 26,000 ft

COMMENT: The Supermarine Spiteful was a British Rolls-Royce Griffon-engined fighter aircraft designed by Supermarine to Air Ministry specification F.1/43 during WW II as a successor to the famous Spitfire. By 1942, Supermarine designers had realised that the characteristics of the Spitfire’s wing at high Mach numbers might become a limiting factor in increasing the aircraft’s high-speed performance. The main problem was the aeroelasticity  of the Spitfire’s wing; at high speeds the relatively light structure behind the strong leading edge torsion box would flex, changing the airflow and limiting the maximum safe diving speed to 480 mph. If the Spitfire were to be able to fly higher and faster, a radically new wing would be needed. The new wing was of single-spar stressed-skin construction with an auxiliary spar and fitted to a modified Spitfire Mk. XIV, in order to make a direct comparison with the earlier elliptical wing, and was first flown on 30 June 1944. The new Spitfire’s speed performance was comfortably in excess of an unmodified Spitfire XIV, but the new wing displayed some undesirable behaviour at the stall. Additionally the Supermarine team took the opportunity to redesign the Spitfire’s fuselage, to improve the pilot’s view over the nose and to eliminate gross directional instability by using a larger fin and rudder. This instability had been apparent since the introduction of the more powerful Griffon engine. The instability was exacerbated by the increase in propeller blade area due to the introduction of the four-bladed and subsequent five-bladed airscrews. The updated design was now substantially different from a Spitfire, the aircraft was named “Spiteful” ,although “Victor” had been originally proposed. The reason for the allocation of the mark number “XIV” to the first production variant is somewhat obscure but appears to have stemmed from an early attempt to link the mark numbers of the new fighter to those of the equivalent Spitfires from which, at the time, they stemmed. In production when the war terminated, the Spiteful was never issued to a squadron, but in its definite form it gained the distinction of being the fastest piston-engined aircraft ever produced in the UK (Ref.: 23).

Westland “Whirlwind” Mk.I (Airfix)

TYPE: Escort fighter, fighter-bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: Two Rolls-Royce Peregrine liquid-cooled engines, rated at 885 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 360 mph at 15,000 ft

COMMENT: The Westland “Whirlwind” was a British twin-engine heavy fighter developed by Westland Aircraft.. A contemporary of the Supermarine “Spitfire” and Hawker “Hurricane”, it was the Royal Air Force’s first single-seat, twin-engine, cannon-armed fighter. When it first flew in 1938, the “Whirlwind” was one of the fastest and most heavily-armed combat aircraft in the world. Protracted development problems with its Rolls-Royce “Peregrine” engines delayed the project and only a relatively small number of “Whirlwinds”, in total 116 aircraft, were built. During the Second World War, only three RAF squadrons were equipped with the Whirlwind, and despite its successful use as a fighter and ground-attack aircraft it was withdrawn from service in 1943. At least 67 Mk.I fighters were converted into Mk.II aircraft, nicknamed “Whirlibombers”. Lessons learned from the “Whirlwind” influenced the development of the high altitude fighter Westland “Welkin” (Ref.: 23).