Appeal launched for flying WWII Hawker Typhoon

Hawker Typhoon
Sam Worthington-Leese and the WWII Hawker Typhoon under restoration

A campaign was launched at the weekend to raise £6.5m to restore a WWII Hawker Typhoon to flying condition.

If the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group (HTPG) succeeds it will be the only airworthy example of the aircraft in the world and a “memorial to all the Typhoon crews” said Sam Worthington-Leese, the driving force behind the group.

The Typhoon Group was originally formed in 2016 but the past few years of pandemic and the war in Ukraine have disrupted the fund-raising effort, admitted Sam. The event on Saturday at the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARCo), where the aircraft is being restored, is an attempt to kickstart the fund-raising.

Watch: Mark ‘Greeners’ Greenfield, Ambassador for the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group, on the FLYER Livestream talking about the project. Click here

Typhoon cost

This is why £6.5m is needed!

“The Typhoon is one part of aviation history that is missing,” explained Air Marshall (retd) Cliff Spink, one of the UK’s most experienced warbird pilots and patron of the HTPG. “The Typhoon is such a significant part that it needs to be featured.”

The Typhoon played a major role during D-Day and the retaking of mainland Europe at the end of WWII, as identified by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander. He said, “The chief credit in smashing the enemy’s spearhead, however, must go to the rocket-firing Typhoon aircraft of the Second Tactical Air Force… The result of the strafing was that the enemy attack was effectively brought to a halt, and a threat was turned into a great victory.”

Bernard Gardiner

Bernard Gardiner, now aged 100, flew the Typhoon during WWII and is a staunch supporter of the project

However, the Typhoon’s role came at a cost: 56% of all Typhoon pilots were lost on operations, a total of 666 pilots.

The aircraft being restored, RB396, flew over 35 combat sorties against ground targets in ‘Fortress Europe’ and was repaired 18 times in her short four-month life. On 1 April 1945, whilst attacking mechanised transports in the Netherlands, RB396 was hit by intense flak and made a forced landing north-west of Denekamp on the Dutch/German border.

The pilot evaded capture, and returned to his Squadron four days later. After the war, RB396 was recovered from the battlefield, and saved by Dutch enthusiasts for display in a small museum. In 2012, she was brought back to the UK by one of the founding Trustees of the HTPG.

Napier engine

Engine of the Typhoon is a 24-cylinder sleeve valve Napier

The Group is making good progress, helped enormously by being given a factory inhibited Napier Sabre engine. The rear fuselage is nearly complete and most of the parts required have been located. “And anything missing, we can make,” said Sam.

If the money can be found to complete the restoration, Sam expects the Typhoon to be flying in four to five years.

Although HTPG is looking for corporate and high worth sponsors, individuals can also contribute via the Group’s website.

Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group 


Hawker Hurricane

Photo: Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group

UPDATE WWII Typhoon pilot Bernard Gardiner flew again after the above event – in a two-seat Hawker Hurricane. Read the account of his flight here


Leave a Reply


We use cookies to give you the best online experience. Please let us know if you agree to all of these cookies.