Chris Thomas explained in the December 2016 issue of Flypast why the Tempest V ruled the roost and gained the respect of Luftwaffe jet pilots
Regarded by Luftwaffe pilots as a dangerous opponent, the Hawker Tempest V is often hailed as the zenith of British wartime piston-engined fighter development. Supermarine admirers would probably beg to differ, citing the Spitfire XIV and the F.21, which just crept into the reckoning, as superior.
The only question that matters is how did it match up against the latest German equipment during its 12 months of operations?
It was May 1944 before the Tempest became fully operational, by which time the Newchurch Wing (comprising Nos 3 and 486 (New Zealand) Squadrons; plus 56 Squadron equipped with Spitfire IXs, awaiting Tempests) was flying mainly uneventful shipping reconnaissance sorties or ‘Rangers’ – attacking ground targets. D-Day passed without action, but on D+2 a sweep behind the Normandy beachhead, led by Wg Cdr ‘Bea’ Beamont, found five Messerschmitt Bf 109Gs in line astern, 5,000ft (1,524m) below.