Text and Photos by: Tony Bell
In 1940, famed Hawker designer Sydney Camm set out to resolve a number of shortcomings inherent in the design of the Hawker Typhoon. Chief among these was the problem of high speed buffet. This was addressed with a completely redesigned wing featuring a thinner laminar flow airfoil (to reduce form drag) and an elliptical planform (to reduce induced drag). Because this new wing could not house as much fuel as before, an additional fuel tank was added ahead of the cockpit, making it necessary to move the engine farther forward. In august 1942 it was decided that these changes were extensive enough to warrant a new name: the Tempest.
As with the Typhoon, the Napier Sabre engine was to prove to be troublesome. To mitigate against this, alternative engine installations were designed for the Tempest. The Tempest Mk.I was fitted with a Napier Sabre IV, the Mk.II with a Bristol Centaurus IV, while the Mk.III and Mk.IV carried a Rolls Royce Griffon engines, and the Mk. V a Sabre II. The Tempest II, with it's tightly cowled Bristol Centaurus radial engine and aerodynamic spinner initially suffered from severe cooling problems. A captured Fw-190A was to provide the solution in the form of individual exhaust pipes for each cylinder (all 18 of them) leading to exit louvers on each side of the fuselage. The carburettor intakes and oil cooler were mounted in the leading edges of the wings, giving the Tempest II exceptionally clean aerodynamics. The Tempest II was to enter service too late to see action during the Second World War. It served in the post-war RAF, and a number examples were supplied to the Indian and Pakistani air forces in the early 1950s.
Since there are no kits available of the Tempest Mk.II at the time (POMK now produce a resin Mk.II, I believe), I had to do a conversion based on the Mk.V. There have been two kits of the Mk.V produced, the old, out of production AMT kit and the Eduard offering. I chose the Eduard kit. I'm not that much of a masochist. The Eduard kit comes in both early and late versions, the primary (and only, AFAIK) distinction being the longer cannon barrels of the early version. Eduard offers both versions in either basic or Profi-pack editions, the latter including a resin and photoetch cockpit along with resin wheels. I opted for the late Profi-pack version, although in retrospect I should have gone with the basic kit, as the cockpit is so dark that all the extra detail isn't very visible anyway. I had embarked on this project before the MDC resin Mk.II conversion was available, so I cannibalised a Hobbycraft Sea Fury FB.II for the engine nacelle and various other bits & pieces. As it turns out, the MDC conversion initially suffered from some inaccuracies in the exhaust area anyway, although apparently this was later fixed. The PP Aerokits Sea Fury update set was also raided for certain items.
The kits resin cockpit is very nice, featuring crisp detail devoid of any moulding flaws. The parts were cut from the pour stubs and washed with dish soap and water. Once dry the seat, side walls and photoetch instrument panel were painted flat black and drybrushed with medium grey. The rear bulkhead, floor and side wall tubing were painted British Interior Green and drybrushed light grey. Details on the instrument panel and cockpit sides were picked out with silver, white and red. The photoetch included with the kit supplies numerous fiddly bits such as throttle levers, fuel turncocks, etc. which were attached with slow setting superglue gel. The kit would have you use the injection moulded control column which was somewhat lacking in detail, so I fabricated a replacement from brass rod and fine wire. I deflected the stick to the left as I wanted to displace the ailerons.
The first area of the fuselage to be tackled was the tail section. To my eye, one of the major shortcomings of the Eduard Tempest is the grossly thick and blunt vertical tail fillet. On the real aircraft, this has a sharp leading edge, whereas on the kit it is rounded with a radius of about six scale inches. I considered thinning the fillet down but didn't feel like spending a month of Sundays filing and sanding. Instead, I traced the profile of the fillet onto 0.010" sheet styrene which would become the replacement. I then removed the kit fillet forward of the vertical panel line and down to the fuselage. The accompanying photo shows the area that was removed.
At this point the cockpit was installed and the fuselage halves glued together. The windscreen was glued in place with liquid cement and Back to the tail, the 0.010" styrene replacement fillet was glued into place and fared in with epoxy putty. While the putty was still soft it was smoothed with a wet finger so that when it set it required only a bit of sanding to blend it in. Once everything was set, the lost surface detail was rescribed with a sewing needle using electrical tape as a guide. The rudder and elevators were cut off and repositioned to give the model a more animated look. The leading edges of the control surfaces were built up from epoxy putty. The fit of the horizontal stabilisers was excellent, with no filler needed.
Now I had reached the point of no return. I took a deep breath and cut the nose off with a razor saw at the panel line just behind the leading edge of the wing. Before I lost my nerve, I also cut the engine cowling off the Hobbycraft Sea Fury. This was glued together and all the panel lines filled and rescribed. To make the section between the cowl and the rest of the fuselage, I cut two bulkheads from 0.020" styrene, one matching the fuselage cross section, and one matching the cowl, which were attached to a keel of the appropriate length and profile. I then filled in the middle with scraps of balsa wood and finished it off with epoxy putty. When the putty had set, I sanded it all down to get the final shape. The resultant chunk of plastic, wood and putty was used as a master to vacuform the final piece out of 0.020" styrene. The openings for the exhaust louvers were cut out and the piece glued to the fuselage. A 0.040" disk of styrene was cut out and trimmed to match the cowling. This was glued to the fuselage, followed by the cowling. One single exhaust stub was made from aluminum tubing. The walls were thinned and it was squashed to the appropriate shape. A latex rubber mould was made and a dozen duplicates were cast. Of these, the best eight were selected and glued together to form a single piece. Another rubber old was made and again several copies cast. The best two were picked out and glued inside the forward edges of the openings in the fuselage. The exhaust louvers were cut from 0.010" styrene and glued in place. The Hobbycraft Sea Fury spinner was adapted for four blades by plugging the five holes with sprue. A brass shim stock template was used to mark the new holes, which were opened up with a knife and needle file. The panel line on the spinner was scribed by inserting an X-acto blade (No. 24) in between the pages of a novel at the appropriate height above the workbench and rotating the spinner against the tip of the blade.
The Mk.II (and Mk. VI for that matter) wing is distinguishable from the Mk.V by the leading edge oil cooler intake on the starboard wing, and the carburettor intakes on both wings. The Sea Fury also has these leading edge intakes, but the oil cooler is on the port wing instead. Unfortunately this eliminated the possibility of using the Sea Fury intakes, as they are mirror image to the Tempest. Instead I fabricated them from sheet styrene, epoxy putty and fine steel mesh. I decided to cut the flaps out and replace them with Eduard photoetch from their aftermarket set (as opposed to the kit PE). With 20-20 hindsight I have decided that this is somewhat inaccurate, as I could find very few photos of parked aircraft with their flaps down. Oh well, it still looks cool to me. I also cut the ailerons out and repositioned them to correspond to the deflection of the control column. I opened up the shell ejector slots by thinning the wing from the inside with a Dremel tool until the plastic covering the slots was translucent. Final cleanup was done with a new #11 blade. The landing lights were replaced with M.V. model railroad lenses. The starboard light is actually two lenses, one red, one green, while the port light is a single larger amber lens. The landing light covers were made from 0.005" clear styrene. I made the wingtip formation lights from chunks of Plexiglas with small holes drilled in them and painted red and green for the bulbs. The roughly formed lights were superglued in placed and filed and sanded to the final shape and then polished. The cannon barrels were replaced with brass tubing and epoxied in place, making sure that the outboard barrels protruded approximately ½ mm beyond the leading edge. At this stage the wing was glued to the fuselage. The fit at the wing root was very good, requiring just a bit of tweaking and dry fitting to obtain a perfect fit. A little bit of filler was required underneath the fuselage at the back of the wing. The junction between the scratch built leading edge intakes and the scratch built portion of the fuselage was fared in with epoxy putty and sanded smooth. Two blobs of 5-minute epoxy formed the small blisters at the forward inboard corners of the wheel wells. Two recesses were carved out on the underside of the fuselage forward of the wing for the two exhaust stubs which were made from thinned aluminum tubing and epoxied in place.
After masking the canopy and cockpit opening I sprayed the canopy frames black, followed by a coat of white over the rest of the model. The white ID bands on the nose and tail were masked off along with circles where the roundels were to go, and I sprayed Tamiya black along the panel lines to "pre-shade" them. The "sky" tail band was then painted (Tamiya acrylic) and masked off, and the undersides painted with Aeromaster enamel Medium Sea Grey. This too was masked off and the upper surface camouflage pattern was free hand painted using Tamiya acrylic Ocean Grey and Aeromaster enamel Dark Green.
After letting all the various paints dry for several days, the white ID bands, "sky" band and undersides masks were removed and the whole model was sprayed with Future floor wax to prepare it for the decals. The aircraft I chose to represent had minimal markings which were limited to roundels in all the standard places, serial number, fin flashes and stencils. The roundels and fin flashes came from Aeromaster, while the serial letters and numbers were from an Arrow Graphics sheet. The stencils came from the kit decal sheet, as did the yellow wing leading edge. Surprisingly, considering the three different sources, all the decals went down easily and responded well to setting solutions. The kit decals in particular were very thin and tended to stick to the model where they first landed. This was alleviated by placing a small dab of saliva on the model where the decal was to go, allowing it to slide more easily. A tad gross, but it works. The last decals to go on were the wing walks, which were cut out from a sheet of solid black decal stock. Weathering consisted of a Windsor and Newton burnt umber oil wash in the panel lines and paint chipping done with Humbrol silver No. 11 and a 0000 brush. The whole model was sprayed with Aeromaster acrylic flat, and the exhaust stains airbrushed on with a brown/black colour mixed from Tamiya paints and thinned 90% with rubbing alcohol.
The kit landing gear legs were replaced with white metal ones from the PP Aerokits Sea Fury update set and brake lines added from fine wire. They were painted silver, "washed" with Tamiya smoke and attached with five minute epoxy. I opted for the wheels from the HC Sea Fury as they featured better hub detail than either the injection moulded or resin wheels from the Eduard. The tires were too skinny however, so they were beefed up with shims of 0.020" sheet styrene. I filed a flat spot on each tire and painted them Aeromaster tire black with silver hubs.
The tail wheel was actually a resin P-39 nose wheel from True Details which was chucked in a Dremel tool and turned to reduce the diameter and produce the anti shimmy tread. The U-shaped yoke was formed from wire and the whole tail wheel assembly was glued together with five minute epoxy and fixed to the recess. The gear doors were thinned to a more scale thickness and attached with superglue.
The sliding canopy hood is the vacuform replacement from the PP Aerokits Sea Fury update set which was dipped in Future, masked, painted and attached with white glue. The boarding stirrup is also from the same set, and the rear canopy guide rail is brass stock with styrene detail bits.
The prop and spinner were attached to the nose with white glue, as was the canopy sliding hood. The pitot probe was drilled out and painted Medium Sea Grey and silver and attached with superglue
So there you have it. Although the conversion wasn't as simple as I had first envisioned, I did manage to actually get it completed, unlike some of my other over ambitious projects that end up abandoned at the bottom of the kit closet.
My primary reference was Typhoon and Tempest at War by Arthur Reed & Roland Beamont. This reference contains numerous high quality photos of the Mk.II along with a very useful cutaway drawing. Another source was the Profile Publications Profile 197 Hawker Tempest I-VI by Francis K. Mason.
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