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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby # SH32054
Tempest Mk. II "High-Tech" -- 1:32 Scale



In the final years of WWII, the British Hawker Tempest emerged as one of the fastest and most lethal airplanes of the war.  Originally starting out on paper as an improved Hawker Typhoon, the design evolved into a significantly new airplane that proved capable of taking on any target, from the V-1 buzz bomb to armored trains, tanks, and the Me 262 jet fighter.  Special Hobby released its 1:32 first Tempest Mk. V in 2016.  Since then, we’ve seen four additional boxings of the Mk.V and Mk.II, and the Mk.VI.  Here, we sit down with the “High Tech” Tempest Mk. II kit that includes a wide range of superdetail parts.

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The Hawker Typhoon was one of the RAF’s most famous airplanes during WWII, but it had some clear limitations.  The Typhoon’s performance was particularly poor at both high altitude and high airspeeds.  Engine troubles and structural flaws also plagued the Typhoon.  Hawker engineers, led by Sir Sydney Camm, developed a Typhoon variant in 1941 that incorporated a thinner, laminar flow wing design that was first known as the Hawker P. 1012 or Typhoon II.  The wing was redesigned into a near-elliptical shape with a 43-foot span and wing surfaces were very purposefully flush-riveted to optimize laminar flow.  The wing also was designed to incorporate 800 rounds of 20 mm ammunition for four Hispano cannons.  Additional internal fuel tanks were added to bring internal fuel capacity to 162 gallons.  The heart of the new design was the powerful Napier Sabre IV powerplant.  The accumulated changes prompted a new name for the new design, and the Typhoon II became the Tempest.

Six prototype Tempests were built as a single Mk.I, two Mk.IIs, one Mk.III, one Mk.IV, and one Mk.V variant.  Each example featured a range of different airframe and powerplant configurations.  Delays with the other prototypes saw the Mk.V take to the air first in September 1942.  Tempest flight tests validated the new design that indeed overcame the Typhoon’s performance shortcomings.  The RAF knew it had on its hands one of the most powerful fighters of its day.  From about 10,000 feet down to the deck, the Tempest was the fastest low-altitude propeller-driven aircraft of the war.

Tempests soon flew fighter sweeps and reconnaissance missions.  Leading up to D-Day, Tempests frequently flew into northern France, Holland, and the Netherlands to attack German airfields, radar installations, ground vehicles, coastal shipping, and “vengeance-weapon” launch sites.  Further, the high-speed performance of the Tempest made it an excellent interceptor of the V-1.  Tempests brought down no less than 638 V-1s inbound to England.  In September 1944, Tempests supported Operation MARKET GARDEN and by the end of that year, their missions were generally focused on systematic destruction of northern German railways.  By 1945, the Tempest’s speed and tactics had begun to accumulate kills against the Me 262, and by the end of the war, the airplane had accumulated an overall kill-to-loss ratio of 6.5 to 1.  Indeed, what had started out as a redesign of the Hawker Typhoon lead to a definitive contribution to close the Second World War in Europe.

The Tempest Mk.II was most distinct from its Mk. V and VI brethren as it ditched the Napier Sabre engine in favor of a Bristol Centaurus radial engine.  Sydney Camm felt that the radial-powered Tempest Mk II would offer the ultimate in performance for the Tempest – and eventually got the airplane up to a maximum speed nearing 450 MPH.  Hawker engineers redesigned the Tempest II prototypes with a modified Centaurus IV, which incorporated various lessons learned from a captured Fw 190’s engine and cooling system.  The prototype Mk. II made its maiden flight on June 28 1943.  Flight tests found several issues from engine vibration to engine cooling, but they were all eventually solved.  The first production Mk. IIs, manufactured both by Hawker and Bristol, were delivered in October 1944.  By the end of the war, Hawker delivered 402 airframes while Bristol completed just 50.  All production Mk. IIs were fitted with the Centaurus V powerplant, short-barrel Hispano Mk. V cannons, and a standard Mk. V tail.  The Mk. II was several inches longer in the engine cowling than the Tempest Mk.V and most obviously, the Mk. II lacked the heavy radiator unit under the nose.  The Mk. II was destined for RAF service in the Asia-Pacific theaters, but the war ended before they saw combat.  Still, they continued to serve the RAF and Commonwealth nations for many years to come.

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Special Hobby's 1:32 scale Tempest Mk.II “High Tech” kit is a multimedia kit consisting It contains 320 medium gray parts distributed across nine sprues (approximately 50 parts will go unused in this version of the kit) along with an additional 16 clear parts on one sprue.  Also included in the box are lots of detail parts – 45 cast resin parts, 44 photoetched metal parts on one fret, 12 microfiber parts, one acetate sheet with two parts, a pre-cut, self-adhesive painting mask, and four decal sheets.  The color instruction booklet has assembly of the Tempest Mk.II proceeding over 52 steps.  Markings are provided for five Tempest Mk.IIs:

Strengths:  Over the years, Special Hobby has been steadily improving their game in terms of molding quality, detail, and fit.  Their large-scale Tempest kits truly show how far Special Hobby has come.  Pretty much all of the accolades I gave to their other issues of Tempest kits apply here as well (see our most recent look at their Mk. VI HERE).  This kit is on par with any high-quality modern manufacturer, and I would probably draw the closest comparison with Hasegawa and their peers.  Overall size and shapes appear to be very accurate.  The surface airframe detail is excellent, featuring crisp and restrained panel lines.  Recessed screw, rivet, and fastener detail is likewise very well executed, and also captures the details of the different sized and shaped fasteners on the engine cowling and wing roots.  The rudder and elevators are separate parts and can be positioned deflected though the instructions only show them to be placed in the neutral position.  It quite true that Special Hobby has been steadily improving their game in terms of molding quality, detail, and fit.  This family of kits bears witness to the current state of this evolutionary process. 

First, let’s look at the High-Tech components in this Tempest Mk. II kit.  Just when you might have thought Special Hobby could be done with detail, the additional cockpit parts in this edition of the kit really blew this reviewer away.  Inside this box, you will find a remarkable combination of kit and detail parts that give the builder the raw materials to create a great replica of the Tempest Mk. II interior.  It’s jaw dropping.  The resin parts span the pilot’s seat to many other cockpit details, gunsight, gun barrels, and really great resin wheels (your choice of treads) that are just subtly buldged and flattened to perfection.  Most impressive is the port wing’s gun bay which can be displayed open with all its cast resin and photoetched metal glory including the exposed cannons and ammo belts. 

The shoulder harnesses and lap belts are really awesome microfiber parts by HGW.  The masking set will make painting the clear parts and wheels/wheel hubs a breeze, and the photoetched metal parts look sharp.  The paint schemes included in this edition of the kit are all excellent, but the overall silver scheme from 1949 has something about it that really draws me in as a scale modeler.  Perhaps it’s because the scheme is so different than the standard camouflage and invasion stripes that comes to mind when one thinks of Tempest paint schemes.  Printed by Eduard, the decals look amazing and receive top marks after a careful examination. 

The cockpit is excellent.  The level of detail and intricacy that is provided translates into the potential for most scale modelers to produce a small masterpiece here.  The detail provided just by the kit is excellent.  The thinking that went into the parts breakdown, from the control column to the throttle, rudder pedals, seat, and surrounding airframe structure, was very careful indeed.  To be clear and expose my personal bias, I love using aftermarket parts – as a builder, resin and photoetch represent a big part of my enjoyment of the hobby.  But there’s not much need here for anything else because the kit parts are just that good – HOWEVER, the resin and PE parts added here really knock this out of the park.  Instrument bezels look great, but there is no detail on the instrument faces, as they are to be represented by very nicely printed detailed decals.

The Mk.II parts come on Sprue F contains parts for the wing leading edge intakes.  Engine cowling halves are also found here, as are the parts for the finely balanced four-bladed propeller of the Mk. II.  It is likely well known to many readers that the Mk. V and Mk. VI versions of this kit are affected by a shape error in the nose that drew quite a bit of criticism.  Here, I’ve really tried to carefully scrutinize the shape of the Mk. II nose, and I see no errors to speak of. 

Scale modelers will also be very impressed by the fidelity of detail in the main gear and tail wheel wells and gear doors.  The structures of the main gear wells appear to be very well represented, only lacking wire bundles or plumbing.  The main gear themselves and their retraction cylinders and other struts are very nicely detailed and crisply molded.  Further, ejection pin marks are nowhere to be seen.  Other smaller details are to be commended, too, including the exterior lights and very nicely printed decals that represent the straps on the drop tank pylons.

The kit also comes with a pair of drop tanks, two air-to-ground bombs, and eight 60-pound unguided RP-3 rockets.  The stencils allow you to model the either the HE or the SAP versions.  Should you choose to hang anything off your Tempest, pay attention to the holes that will need to be drilled from the inside of the lower wing half to mount the pylons.  I also like the internal propeller hub plate that helps align the props correctly.  I snipped off the fuselage, wings, and tail parts for a test fit.  Everything fits rather precisely, and you’ll not likely need much filler here.  Also, the full-span lower wings allow the builder to achieve the proper dihedral angle right out of the box.

Weaknesses:  There are only a few critiques that can be entertained for this kit.  The pour gates are still a bit large proportionally speaking, and for almost every part, a few moments of extra clean-up will probably be necessary.  While the rudder and elevators are separate pieces and can be positioned, the flaps and ailerons are integrally molded into the trailing edges of the wings.  The front of the Centaurus engine is really, really simplified.  Also, note there’s a small correction insert in the box, letting you know NOT to cut out a part of the lower wing as the instruction booklet would have you carry out when using the resin gun bays.  

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Special Hobby’s 1:32 scale Tempest Mk. II appears to be an excellent injection molded kit in all respects, and the superdetail parts and masking set really elevate this kit to very high level.  For those interested in upgrading the kit even further – and yes, that’s possible – there are a range of detail parts from CMK from the control column, a sitting and a climbing pilot figure, cannon barrels, strengthened main landing gear, and a resin starboard side gun bay.  Enjoy this one.  Kits like this are meant to be built.

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample. You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info/  and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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