Painting Up a Storm:
Marking Practices of the Hawker Typhoon Part 1
In the Summer of 1941, a new fighter appeared in the inventory of the
RAF. This was the Hawker Typhoon. Originally designed as an interceptor
and armed with 12 .303 Browning machine guns, the Typhoon was to gain
fame as a ground attack aircraft armed with four 20mm cannon and various
bombs and rockets. First came a long gestation period in which it was
almost removed from service due to problems with its temperamental powerplant
- the equally new and untried Napier Sabre. Although promising excellent
power, the Sabre was still in its embryonic stage and coupling it with
the Typhoon was almost the undoing of both.
Hawker Typhoon Mk.I R5780
The first Typhoons to enter service were sent to No.56 Sqn at Duxford.
These were finished in the standard Dark Earth/Dark Green/Sky. Also
note the original canopy design which offered no rear vision.
Hawker Typhoon Mk.IA R7634
The first change to the markings of the Typhoon was the replacing of
the dark earth with Ocean Gray and the underside with Medium Sea Gray.
Also added at this time was the Sky fuselage band.
Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB R7698
W/Cdr Denys Gillam
No.266 (Rhodesian)Sqn RAF
The first outwardly visible change to the Typhoon occurred when the
canopy was changed to a clear view rear section instead of the solid
fairing - although entry was still through a car-style door. At the
same time the armament was upgraded to four 20mm cannon. The Typhoon
of W/Cdr Gillam shows these changes. Also note his rank pennant on the
fuselage in front of the canopy.
Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB R7679
No.56 Sqn RAF
With its distinctive nose mounted radiator and thick wing, the Hawker
Typhoon is instantly recognisable .. or so it seems to our modern eye.
However a fleeting glimpse of an opposing aircraft is often all that
is allowed for in combat. And in such a moment the new Hawker fighter
was often mistaken for the equally new Focke-Wulf Fw190. Indeed, moments
after the first Typhoon victory was claimed, the unfortunate pilot was
himself shot down by a pair of Spitfires ... surely something was needed
to prevent such from happening again . .
The first solution was the painting of the entire nose, as far back
as the wing leading edge, white. Another was to add four one foot wide
black stripes, each 24 inches apart, to the bottom of the wing. Although
the white nose made them visible, many pilots now felt they were too
visible and another solution was needed.
Hawker Typhoon Mk.1B DN317
No.56 Sqn RAF
This time the fix was to paint the rear of the spinner in black, leaving
the front in Sky. The underwing stripes worked so well that they were
ordered adopted in December 1942, with the addition of white between
the black stripes. However none were noted in this form until February
1943. One other change was a 12 inch wide yellow stripe on the upperwing
behind the innermost cannon from the leading to trailing edge. These
were the basic markings that the Typhoon was to carry for the next year.
Hawker Typhoon Mk.1B NF R7881
One variant of the Typhoon that was not proceeded with was that of
a radar equipped night-fighter. The radar was fitted into the leading
edge of a standard Mk.IB. To make room for the associated electronics
one fuel tank was removed. This was to be made up for by carrying two
44 gallon drop tanks. R7881 was finished in the standard NF camouflage
of Medium sea Gray and Dark Green. At least two operational flights
were made in mid-1943, however with the arrival of the Mosquito and
Beaufighter, further development was dropped.
Hawker Typhoon Mk.1B DN 323
No.451 Sqn RAAF
Three Typhoons were sent to the Middle East for trials in mid-1943.
All served with No.451 Sqn RAAF. The 19 pilots who flew them were most
enthusiastic, but again operational needs elsewhere put an end to this.
All three were finished in the usual Sand, Stone and Azure.
Hawker Typhoon Mk.1B R8742
No.181 Sqn RAF
Along with markings carried for various operations (D-Day for example),
special markings were also carried for exercises. For 'Exercise Spartan'
in March 1943 the enemy forces were represented by aircraft carrying
a horizontal white stripe on the nose and the bottom of the port wing
was painted black (not shown here).
Hawker Typhoon Mk.1B EK270
No.181 Sqn RAF
FIGHTING COLOURS - RAF Fighter Camouflage 1937-1975; Bowyer, MJF;
Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1975
TYPHOON/TEMPEST IN ACTION; Scutts, Jerry; Squadron/Signal Publications,
Correspondence with Dave Fletcher and Will Riepl.