On February 23, 2023, the South Wales Aviation Museum (SWAM) at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan took delivery of the major parts of Hawker Tempest II MW758…
On loan to the museum from its current owners, which they note is a “an excellent environment”, the airframe will now receive immediate conservation work as part of an anticipated return to flight project. Of the 1,702 Tempests built, just 12 complete aircraft survive - of which just four are currently on public display.
Rolling off Hakwer’s Langley production line in May 1945, MW758 was placed into storage along with many hundreds of other then-new airframes rendered surplus with the end of war in Europe. In 1948, the aircraft was sold the Bharatiya Vayu Sena (Indian Air Force) and assigned the serial HA580. While its service in India remains unclear, it is possible the airframe saw combat action flying Close Air Support missions during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947-1948.
With the type withdrawn from frontline service in 1955, HA580 became an airfield decoy at what was Poona Air Base (today's Indian Air Force Station Pune) in Western India, before being auctioned off in 1976. Purchased by noted vintage aircraft entrepreneur Doug Arnold of the Blackbushe, Hampshire-based Warbirds of Great Britain, along with six others, it arrived in the UK in 1979, where it was placed in storage. The Tempests were later acquired by Nick Grace and Chris Horsley and stored in Chichester as part of what was the ‘Tangmere Flight’ the following year. Going on to passing through several private hands for the next three decades, MW758 was purchased by the current owner in 2021 and initially stored at another airfield in Wales.
Taking to social media to announce the aircraft’s arrival, SWAM noted the owners “have very kindly placed the aircraft on display here prior to its restoration to airworthy condition”. Now in place at SWAM, the owners aim to assess their options and work out the best way forward in its hopes of returning MW758 to the skies. Although no Tempests are currently airworthy there are several restoration projects underway – including Graham Peacock’s MW763/G-TEMT at Sywell in Northamptonshire, which is expected to fly sometime this year. Could we one day see it joined by MW758?