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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Airfix Westland Whirlwind Mk 1

An Airfix Westland Whirlwind Mk 1 kit in 1/72 scale which dates back to 1987. This is another example of the "map top box" design introduced by Airfix in the mid 80's.

The aircraft depicted above served with 137 Squadron Royal Air Force in 1942.

The first prototype Westland Whirlwind flew on 11th October 1938. Following numerous modifications to the prototype, Westland received an initial production order for 200 aircraft in January 1939.

The Whirlwind was powered by two Rolls Royce Peregrine engines giving it a top speed of over 360 mph, in line with the single engine fighters of the day. However, the aircraft only had a combat operating range of less than 300 miles which made it largely unsuitable as a bomber escort fighter.

Unfortunately the Peregrine engines were not particularly reliable and Rolls Royce reduced production in favour of the Merlin. As a result, the supply of Peregrine engines to Westland was greatly hampered, with the first ones only being delivered in January 1940.

The Whirlwind, armed with 4 x 20 mm cannons in the nose, packed a lot of firepower but was found to be more suitable in a ground attack role than for use as a fighter with the introduction of more suitable aircraft such as the Spitfire.

Continued delivery problems with the Peregrine engines, lead to the end of Whirlwind production in January 1942, after the completion of just 112 front line aircraft.

Initially 25 Squadron Royal Air Force took delivery of three Whirlwinds in May 1940. These aircraft were transferred to 263 Squadron Royal Air Force based in Grangemouth, Scotland in mid June 1940.

The Squadron became fully operational in December 1940 and was transferred to Exeter where it undertook convoy patrol duties as well as providing bomber escort missions.

137 Squadron Royal Air Force was equipped with Whirlwinds from September 1941 until June 1943.

In mid 1942, both 263 and 137 Squadrons' Whirlwinds were fitted with racks to carry two 250 lb or 500 lb bombs and redesignated Whirlwind IA. The aircraft were very successfully employed in cross Channel ground attack missions against targets such as airfields, railways, bridges and shipping in enemy occupied France and the Low Countries.

The last Whirlwind mission to be flown by 137 Squadron occurred on 21 June 1943 when five aircraft attacked the German airfield at Poix. In December 1943, 263 Squadron, converted to the Hawker Typhoon.

Although the Whirlwind was held in great affection by it's pilots, sadly none of the original aircraft have survived to this day, most having been scrapped during the latter stages or the War.

This kit is currently for sale on Ebay. Please check out the auction here.

If you have enjoyed reading this post, please feel free to leave a comment. They are always welcome. You may also like the following posts....

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