Typhoons: Now and Then

I’m marking six years of blogging with a couple of posts to do with 100 years of the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF). Yesterday, I went with Biggles and his dad to RAF Coningsby to watch the Eurofighter Typhoons and also visit the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight hanger. I’ll do a separate post about all that we saw in and out of the hanger, but we had such a full day I thought it best to split this bit out to talk specifically about the two types of Typhoons we saw that day.

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Eurofighter Typhoon taxiing at RAF Coningsby. Each hangar in the background houses two aircraft.

The modern Typhoon is a delta-wing jet fighter primarily used by NATO countries. The Typhoon was designed originally as an air superiority fighter and is manufactured by the Eurofighter consortium.

I first saw the Typhoon at an airshow some years ago at RAF Waddington and we were just getting used to the name. The Typhoon is highly agile, designed to be very good in dogfights. The current air display pilot practises his aerial manoeuvres at Coningsby, but was elsewhere the day we visited.

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Typhoons ready and waiting at Coningsby

RAF Coningsby was the first airfield to receive the Eurofighter Typhoon in May 2005. RAF Leuchars received Typhoons in September 2010. Coningsby is home to four Typhoon squadrons. The Typhoon was first used in real combat during the 2011 RAF and the Italian Air Force missions in Libya, performing reconnaissance and ground-strikes.

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Since June 2007 Coningsby’s Typhoons have been responsible for Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) for the South. Aircraft and crews are required to be ready, all day every day, to respond to unidentified aircraft in or approaching UK airspace such as airliners which have stopped responding to air traffic control, or Russian aeroplanes probing UK airspace. There were several aircraft in the air when we visited the spotting area to the side of the main runway. Here’s a video of patched together snippets from among my terrible recordings:

The old Typhoon is a British single-seat fighter-bomber, produced by Hawker Aircraft during WWII. It was intended to be a replacement for the Hurricane, but it never really made the grade as a high-altitude interceptor.

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Hawker Typhoon inside the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight hangar.

However, back in 1941 the Typhoon was the only RAF fighter capable of matching the speed of the Luftwaffe’s Focke-Wulf FW 190 at low levels; as a result it secured a new role as a low-altitude interceptor.

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Either a Rolls-Royce Vulture or a Napier Sabre engine – 24 cylinders producing over 2,000hp.

It had a long range for a fighter and in 1942 was equipped with bombs, and in 1943 ground attack rockets. With these weapons and its four 20mm cannons, the Typhoon became one of the RAF’s most successful ground-attack aircraft in WWII.

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The one and only Hawker Typhoon out of the hangar.

Although some partial airframes and a cockpit have been preserved, there’s only one complete Hawker Typhoon in existence. Originally on display in the USA, it was presented to the RAF Museum in Hendon, London to commemorate the RAF’s 50th Anniversary. Lucky for us this aircraft was on show in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight hangar when we visited:

Many thanks to Biggles for some of these images, the Eccles cake and for driving. All images are either copyright 2018 him or me. So please don’t use without asking first.

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3 thoughts on “Typhoons: Now and Then

  1. Excellent article and please forgive an old man’s being pedantic. “The current air display pilot practices his aerial manoeuvres at Coningsby…” should be “The current air display pilot practises his aerial manoeuvres at Coningsby…”

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