Hawker Tempest V vs. P-47D-27

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Sal Monella

Airman 1st Class
Apr 20, 2005
Redwood City
I used to think that would prefer to be in a Tempest if in aerial combat. I think I would if I were at low altitude. This data surprised me though.

From Jabberwocky -

Tempest V (ADFU and Hawker Trials)

5,000 ft - 3,640 ft/ min and 405-412 mph

15,000 ft - 2,750 ft/min and 420-430 mph

28,000 ft - 850 ft/min and 405 mph

From Jank -


5,000 ft - 3,150 ft/min and 365mph

15,000 ft - 2,950 ft/min and 405 mph

28,000 ft - 1,800 ft/min and 435 mph

I have the following chart for the P-47

The Tempest will definitely climb better than that, at something like 4,000 ft/min atleast.
Thats with the radiator flap open..
Closterman gives top speed of Tempest as 485mph with 2850hp (max rated) and 510mph with 3040hp (emergency), presumably at 16000ft.

Major difference in wing loading as well,

45lb/sq ft for the Tempest MTO

58lb/ sq ft for the P-47 MTO
Wing loading for P-47 was 48.33 (14,500lbs / 300 sq. ft.)

Is that 485 mph and 510 mph data post war or non-production variants? Sounds awfully high like in 60-80 mph too high.
With max take off the wing loading is 58 lb/sq ft, going for combat weight as above then the Tempest V is about 36-37lb/sq ft

Those figures are for wartime Mk V aircraft that Closterman (33 victories) flew with 274 and 3 squadron.

Closterman's Book
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Call me unreasonable but I'm afraid I just don't believe there were production Tempests that saw combat that flew 485-510mph.

I'm seeing 2,420hp at 11lbs of boost (Sabre IIb - final production version). This spec sheet supercedes all priors and is dated February 2, 1945. Can you provide any further information?

I think Closterman was playing rather loosely with his words. I frankly don't believe the account you stated above, nor his as stated below. The fourth, final and most powerful production of the Tempest was with the Sabre IIb which generated a maximum of 2,420hp with 11lbs of boost.

Closterman says "In emergencies, you could over-boost it up to nearly 3,000hp and 4,000 revs; and the speed went up to 460 mph. In a dive the Tempest was the only aircraft to reach, without interfering with its handling qualities to any marked extent, subsonic speeds, ie. 550-600mph"

He goes on to say, "The 109's, knowing that we dived faster than they did, tried to get us up to 16,000 feet where our Tempests were heavy and our engines sluggish."

Scroll down to read his account at:

Tempest V Performance Data
Maybe the speeds he quoted are exaggerations, but being 50mph off seems unlikely. 10-20mph more likely. What I can only surmise is that Closterman's Tempest had a Sabre V revving to 4000rpm and 3040hp. Maybe an in-field modification.
On the subject of in field modifications, I understand that mechanics used to tweak the late war P-47D and raised the HP from 2,530 to something closer to the "M" which had 2,800.

Overboosting from max of 2,420 to 3,040? I'd like to see that!
Here's exactly what Clostermann said from his book-

"It was heavy, all of 7 tons. Thanks to its 2,400 HP engine it had a considerable margin of excess power and its acceleration was phenomenal. It was tricky to fly but its performance made up for it; at 3,000 feet, at economical cruising speed on 1/3rd power (950HP) with 2 45-gallon auxillary tanks, 310MPH on the clock ie., a true airspeed of 320MPH; at fast cruising speed, at 1/2 power (1,425HP) without auxillary tanks, 350MPH on the clock ie, a true airspeed of nearly 400MPH; maximum speed straight and level with +13 boost and 3,850 revs: 430MPH on the clock ie., a true air speed of 440MPH.

In emergencies you could over-boost it up to nearly 3,000HP and 4,000 revs, and the speed went up to 460MPH" and so on as you all have noted.

He never mentions 485 or 510 MPH as a maximum anywhere. He says he did 490 IAS once but at what altitude is unknown and it is unclear if he was in a shallow dive or not. What could be the blurry are is the difference in conversion of knots, IAS and TAS relative to the altitude. Clostermann being French thought in KPH too so did the editor assisting with "The Big Show" get any of the conversions right? Good question!

Clostermann is talking about speeds at 3,000 feet here and in one case with the drag of external tanks. We don't know the OAT -outside air temperature either, which affects things. Today we use a 2% factor as an average. Mathematically increase your indicated airspeed (IAS) by 2% per thousand feet of altitude to obtain the true airspeed (TAS).

Clostermann's conversions of IAS and TAS calculated at the 2% OAT factor come out a bit differently 310MPH IAS is 328MPH TAS, 350MPH IAS is 371 MPH TAS and 430MPH IAS is 456MPH TAS. A 1 % OAT factor would be 320, 360 and 443MPH TAS.

My P-51 manual shows a chart of the comparisons of IAS and TAS
at 40,000 ft.
IAS 260 MPH is 495 TAS
35,000 ft
30,000 ft
25,000 ft
20,000 ft
15,000 ft
10,000 ft
5,000 ft
IAS 505 MPH is 560 TAS

Since Clostermann is probably talking about the 1st Tempests in service we can assume it was the Tempest V (Tempest Is production plans were abandoned Tempest IIs entered service after the V) which had a top end of 435 MPH @ 17,000 ft.

The only 485 MPH airplane Hawker made was the Fury prototype with the 3,055 HP Napier Sabre VII 24-cyl flat H engine. This and the less powerfull 18 cylinder radial production aircraft were post war anyhow.

The V was the only legitimate Tempest in service in numbers. It was officially a low and medium interceptor fighter and fighter bomber hence the lower performance at altitude. This was the ship used to combat V-1s. Only 800 Tempest Vs ever existed with the total including post-war delivered VIs being 1,149.
They were running Sabre IIcs up past 3850 rpm and 3500 hp and got Sabre IVs with ADI up to 4000 hp with a little difficulty before wars end. Maybe not as reliable as the R-2800 but the sheer brute force of the Sabre shouldn't be underestimated.

My favourite Tempest was always the Centarus powered Mk II, which was apparently much nice to fly; much quieter (the Sabre SCREAMED along at 3700 rpm) a little faster and more nimble. Its something of a pity the RR tended to get most of the development money, as Bristol and Napier could of had their engines sorted a lot earlier with some judicious financing.
The reason I said Sabre IIb is because that is that engine that is being claimed to have been overboosted from maximum 2,420hp @ 11bs to 3,040hp @ God only knows what. That was the engine that went into the last wartime variant of the Tempest.

What aircraft were using the Sabre IIc's and IV's before the war's end?
1. Closterman was known to lie and exagerate on just about everything he did. I would not take his word for anything, especially when more reliable sources say otherwise.

2. Id take the P-47 any day. In my opinion it is a much more rugged and better design.
Amazing test. The XP-72, which was ordered into production later in 1944 but then cancelled, was to be produced with a very powerful engine that gave it a maximum speed of 490mph at combat loaded weight. The XP-72 was the first fighter to be designed around the huge 28-cylinger Pratt Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major, the most powerful piston engine produced during World War 2.

Pratt and Whitney R-4360 Engine
Well there is the Rolls-Royce Crecy giving up to 5000hp from 26litres and weighing 820kg.

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