by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
The recent new-tool Tempests from Special Hobby and Eduard have provided the perfect opportunity for Valiant Wings to revisit Sidney Camm's classic heavyweight fighter and produce a second edition of Airframe & Miniature No. 4 in a revised and expanded form.
As the saying goes - if it ain't broke, don't fix it - so the new expanded 160-page volume stays true to the highly successful formula that's made the Airframe & Miniature series so popular with aircraft modellers and enthusiasts alike. Author Richard A. Franks breaks the coverage into two main sections focused on historical and purely modelling interests - but, inevitably, there's a fair bit of blurring between the two and I think most modellers will find plenty to enjoy in both parts. Pictorially, Jacek Jackiewicz provides isometric drawings, side views and scale plans, while Richard Caruana contributes excellent colour profiles.
The coverage actually begins with an item not listed in the table of contents, the 3-page Preface. Regardless of this, it is well worth reading, giving a very useful overview of the development and subsequent career of the Tempest in its various forms.
The focus then sharpens considerably with three Evolution chapters covering The Sabre Tempest, The Centaurus Tempest and Projects, with each prototype and development aircraft covered individually, along with describing the changes between the production batches. Over the course of 20 pages, every entry is accompanied by a side-view line drawing and a photo where possible, while the text lists the equipment fit-out and describes the colours and markings carried by the prototypes. Between the three chapters there’s masses of scope for modelling projects, from the standard Tempest in its familiar forms to the Centaurus-powered Tornado that helped pave the way towards the new fighter, the Griffon-powered Tempest III, and the magnificent 3,000hp Eagle-powered project with its Mustang-style radiator under the rear fuselage which was sadly never built.
Camouflage & Markings follows the Tempest through all its incarnations and includes some excellent period photos along with 6 pages of top-notch colour profiles from Richard Caruana. Backing these up are modern shots of the RAF Museum's TT Mk 5 as a reference for the stencil markings, plus a very handy set of placement 1:72 drawings. Once again, there is masses of inspiration for builds here - and some of the subject aircraft are almost guaranteed to get the creative juices flowing!
The Survivors section is a rather sobering testament to way in which our aviation has been treated over the years. As the author notes, out of nearly 1,400 Tempests built, just 3 complete examples are on display, with a few more undergoing restoration. The "warbird" scene is very different now to even only a few years ago, but many priceless airframes have been lost simply because nobody recognised their value at the time they could have been saved.
Chapter 6 marks the turning point in the book as attention turns to modelling the Tempest, starting off with Hawker Tempest Kits - 20 pages of reviews of the many kits that have appeared over the years from early kits like Revell's 1:72 Mk V from 1963, right up to the latest 1:48 and 1:32 offerings from Eduard and Special Hobby respectively. With so many of the older kits still available in some form or another, this is an excellent guide to the pros and cons of each.
Building A Selection offers 27 pages of top notch builds by Libor Jekl, Steve Evans and John Wilkes, with six projects spread across three scales to offer plenty of variety:
1:72 Academy Tempest Mk. V - Libor's first build takes the 20-year old Academy kit and transforms it with aftermarket sets and a beautifully scratch-built gun bay and oil tank. As usual with Libor's work, the result is remarkable, easily mistakable in the photos for a largescale kit.
1:72 Aeromaster Tempest Mk. V - The same holds true for his second build - Aeromaster's limited edition upgrade of Heller's classic kit of the Tempest. Completely re-scribed and finished as the iconic "Le Grand Charles", it really is a beautiful build.
1:72 Special Hobby Tempest Mk. II - For his final build, Libor turns to the radial-engined Mk II from Special Hobby. The build clearly outlines some of the inevitable challenges with any short-run kit and should serve as an inspiration for anyone who's yet to try this genre, because the finished result is very impressive and can easily sit alongside the previous mainstream models.
1:48 Eduard Tempest Mk. V - original issue with Alley Cat resin tail - Moving up a scale, Steve Evans tackles Eduard's original 1:48 release of the Tempest. I've always admired and enjoyed this kit, but its reputation was dented when word spread that the fuselage was too short. Steve tackles the problem in his impressive build with Alley Cat's update set but, ironically, questions whether it was really worth the effort involved in correcting the fuselage length because the additional 5mm is easily missed.
1:48 Eduard Tempest Mk. V - new tool - There are no such concerns with his second build - Eduard's completely new-tooled kit that appeared at the end of 2018. Like me, he questioned the need for a new kit until he opened the box and saw what a magnificent job Eduard have done to create what must surely be the definitive 1:48 Tempest series. Once again, Steve's build is superb - and I really like the way he's tackled hastily-applied invasion stripes, facing the classic problem of replicating the rough and ready appearance of the originals without making it look like poor model painting.
1:32 Special Hobby Tempest Mk. V - Finally, John Wilkes turns to Special Hobby's very impressive 1:32 kit of the Mk V in its Hi-Tech boxing complete with a resin engine top. John completes the model with HGW's decals which result in no carrier film. I've yet to try them, but John's model is a definite encouragement to do so with the resulting painted-on look.
Building A Collection covers some of same ground as the earlier Evolution chapters, but illustrates the various prototypes and production aircraft with 7 pages of neat isometric views that have the key features indicated to form a ready reference for modelling projects. The drawings aren't to scale, so you shouldn't rely on them for precise dimensions, but they are a very handy way to tell at a glance what work is involved if you fancy building any particular version.
The core of the book for many will doubtless be the In Detail: The Hawker Tempest section - in effect a very comprehensive 39-page "walkaround". In fact I can imagine many modellers will buy the book for this chapter alone - and it really is worth it, combining modern colour photos of preserved airframes and components with vintage photos and illustrations from the original manuals. For me, the combination offers the best of all worlds, because it always pays to be a little wary of restored exhibits, so including period shots for comparison is invaluable.
Covering both the inline and radial-engined versions, the chapter is broken down into the following broad sections:
Cockpit & Canopy
Engine, Propeller, Radiator & Cowl
Armament & Drop Tanks
Radio & Miscellaneous Equipment
The level of detail is remarkable. For instance 11 pages are devoted to the cockpit alone, making this a real goldmine for any modeller looking to take their kit beyond what's included in the box.
The book proper ends with 12 pages of Appendices that include lists of the kits, accessories and books that have appeared over the years. Many are out of production, but can still be found second-hand from time to time. There's a breakdown of Tempest production, with the serial numbers for each batch and some useful shots of Tempests on the production line that show the faintly soft-edged top surface colour divisions neatly, along with just how glossy the late-war paints were when freshly applied.
Last - but certainly not least - there's a great set of fold-out Scale Plans in 1:48 for the Mk. V, Mk. VI and Mk. II (and a quick check confirms the new-tool Eduard kit tallies very nicely). At the expense of damaging the book, it's tempting to remove the plans carefully to make them easier to use at the workbench. Perhaps a nice touch for future books would be to have the plans loose and stored in a flap inside the back cover - but this could well increase the price, so the existing fold-out approach is a fair compromise.
ConclusionValiant Wings' study of the Tempest is almost certainly the definitive modelling guide to the aircraft, cramming masses of reference material within its covers. It certainly deserves a place on the shelves of anyone building a kit of the Tempest, while aviation enthusiasts will also find it a very enjoyable read.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.