Diver Down - Hawker Tempest
Hawker Tempest Aviation Art Print featuring a V-1 Flying Bomb by Aircraft Artist Roger H. Middlebrook GAvA
The second blitz on London and the south east caused considerable concern during the spring and summer of 1944 with the pilotless V-1 flying bomb being both exceedingly fast at low level and very small.
To combat this threat the RAF employed its two fastest aircraft as the front-line defence, the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV and Hawker Tempest Mk.V. The Spitfire's best performance was somewhat higher than the height at which the V-1 flew so it became the Tempest, with its superb low-level capability, that bore the brunt of the fighting. As tactics evolved, especially from the pilots of the Newchurch Wing, commanded by Roland Beamont, it became clear that the guns of the Tempest needed to be harmonised to the relatively short range of 300 yards. It also became known that by disturbing the airflow over the V-1's wing, the gyroscope would destabilise and the V-1 would fly out of control and crash. While not as common as often thought, this technique was used successfully by Spitfire, Tempest and later Meteor pilots as a means of bringing down the craft if the ammunition had been spent.