The Hawker Tempest Mk V only saw frontline service in the last year of the war but proved to be quite a formidable fighter, capable of defeating most German fighters at low altitude and even proving to be a serious threat to the Messerschmitt Me 262, destroying 20 of these jets in air combat. The first Tempest wing, No 150 Wing, was formed in April 1944 and was commanded by W/C Roland Beamont.
“Bee” Beamont’s first assigned Tempest was JN751, a Tempest Mk V Series I, with features typical of early-production Tempest Mk Vs : long-barreled Hispano Mk II cannons, external reinforcement “fishplates” on the rear fuselage and a blister on the upper wing root.
JN751 was coded R-B, a privilege reserved to Wing Commanders, and a yellow propeller spinner. It initially carried alternating 12-inch black and 24-inch white stripes on the lower surfaces of the wings, a quick recognition feature used previously on the Hawker Typhoon to minimize friendly fire from AAA units unfamiliar with the new fighter type. Aside from these features, the aircraft was in standard Day Fighter Scheme of Ocean Grey and Dark Green with Medium Sea Grey undersides. On the right side of the fuselage, a Wing Commander pennant was painted, but this was oriented in the wrong direction.
On June 5, all Allied aircraft involved in the Normandy invasion received the famous “invasion stripes”, which replaced the earlier stripes on JN751. Beamont was a successful Wing leader, developing tactics to fully exploit and capitalize on the Tempest’s capabilities. At the controls of JN751, Beamont shot down a Bf 109G West of Rouen on 8 June 1944. This was the first aerial victory scored by a Hawker Tempest, and a taste of things to come.
No 150 Wing was not active over Normandy for a long time : as Germany began launching V-1s against Great-Britain on 13 June 1944, the Tempest’s high speed made it a prime candidate for “anti-diver operations”. Beamont was instrumental in devising tactics against the V-1, which proved difficult and dangerous to intercept. When the V-1 threat ended in September/October 1944, No 150 Wing had claimed 638 V-1s destroyed, including 32 by Beamont himself, mostly in JN751.
Beamont made his last flight in JN751 on 5 September 1944 and was assigned a new Tempest Mk V Series II. JN751 was refurbished by Hawker at Langley and returned to service with No 287 Squadron in December 1944. On 18 May 1945, : it crashed on the Isle of Sheppey while trying to avoid a fog bank, killing Flight Sergeant P.C.A. Redstone.