Transformed from its original role as a high-altitude fighter, the Typhoon found its niche as an interceptor that could fly as low as 500ft. Watch our video of the only one left in the world…
Listen to Ian Thirsk as he explains the history behind the only remaining full bodied Hawker Typhoon
In October 1945, the most underrated aircraft of World War Two was withdrawn from operational service after just five years flying.
Originally, the Hawker Typhoon was designed to be a high-speed, high-altitude interceptor fighter that could replace the Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire. However, poor performance meant that in 1941, just a year after its first flight, the Typhoon faced an uncertain future. Following the Luftwaffe’s introduction of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, it was determined that the Typhoon was the only RAF fighter capable of catching the formidable foe and challenging it at low altitudes. So it was rushed into service and reassigned a low-altitude interceptor role, before becoming a ground-attack fighter.
Despite its reassignment, the Typhoon did not begin to emerge as a reliable aeroplane until the end of 1942. At this time, the Typhoon squadrons were based near the south coast of England and used this as a chance to shoot down over 20 bomb-carrying Fw 190s. The aeroplane finally proved its worth between October 1942 and July 1943, when they would fly at 500ft in order to spot and intercept incoming enemy fighter-bombers. In 1943, however, the Royal Air Force decided that there was a growing need for a purely ground-attack fighter. Equipped with up to two 1000lb bombs, the Typhoons became nicknamed ‘Bombphoons’ and entered service with No. 181 Squadron in September 1942.
It’s understandable why so many seem to be of the opinion that the Typhoon was a highly underrated aeroplane. Despite the fact that it wasn’t particularly successful in every role it was assigned, it proved itself to be the most effective RAF tactical strike aircraft. If anything, the effect of the Typhoon on the morale of German troops was enough to bring some attacks to a standstill. The top-scoring Typhoon ace was Group Captain J. R. Baldwin of 609 Squadron, who claimed to have shot down 15 aircraft between 1942 and 1945.
Overall, 3,317 Typhoons were built. However, once the war came to an end in Europe they were quickly removed from front-line squadrons and ultimately retired from active service. Now, 75 years since its retirement, just one complete Hawker Typhoon survives out of the original 3,317. Sporting the serial number MN235, this Typhoon lives at the RAF Museum in Hendon, North London. It was proudly presented to the museum in commemoration of the RAF’s 50th Anniversary. See above for our video of this beautiful, brilliant, and indeed underrated aircraft.