Welcome to the first newsletter of what we hope will be a regular edition to keep you all up to date on progress.
We will include some stories, there will be a Wants Board whether it’s for help needed or parts wanted.
There will be details of what is available in the project shop for you to purchase.
There will be news on the appeal and how the fundraising is progressing.
My interest in the Whirlwind – Chris Hayward, Secretary
Many years ago about 35 in fact I caught the Whirly bug, this meant that a certain amount of time was taken up at the Public Records Office in Kew and several visits to the Imperial War Museum in London. The idea was to write a book so Squadron record cards were peered at, dreadful writing deciphered and conclusions drawn. After a while the project was shelved as Children came along and time got sparse. All the information was put in a folder and then filed away and forgotten about until I got involved with this project.
I want to tell you a little about P6966
This aircraft was the second of the first production batch which first went to 25 Squadron at North Weald for their evaluation as a night fighter. They didn’t like it and thought it wasn’t suitable for that intended role.
She was then destined to become part of 263 Squadron. They had been working up at Drem since June 1940 and then moved to Grangemouth the same month.
On the sixth of July the first Whirlwind arrived and was flown in by Squadron leader Eeles. Later, on the nineteenth two more arrived and so started the transition to this new aircraft.
On August the seventh P6966 was being flown by Pilot Officer I.M. McDermott, who was Canadian, unfortunately the aircraft burst a tyre on take-off this damaged the engine nacelle and made it impossible for McDermott to land the plane safely, his only option was to bail out and let the aircraft crash, this it did into a large field at Lanton Farm in Stenhousemuir. McDermott was taken prisoner by the local Home Guard who thought that he was a German because of his accent but he was later released when his Squadron Leader vouched for him.
Photographs courtesy of the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Hawkinge
The Armour plate from the nose and the cooler from P6966 were recovered from a dig during the seventies by a team led by Steve Vizard and Andy Saunders. Another article from the dig included a main wheel tyre with a large split in it. When a team from the project visited Steve recently it was discovered that the tyre was from a Hurricane! So the question now is did a fitter fit the wrong tyre and was that the cause of the burst tyre?.
An image of the scanned data
The above photo is of one of the nacelle spars and has been scanned so that it will go into the CAD drawings when ready.
You can find Mugs , T shirts and Baseball caps for sale in the Project Shop along with these wooden models by the Wooden Model Company. The three models shown retail at £60 pounds each with proceeds going towards the build.
This got off to a slow start but has been gathering pace, we now have unredeemed pledges to the value of £900, also £1600 in the bank from donations that have been kindly sent in by members.
You can of course help by pledging £100 to get your name or business on to the airframe when the project is completed or you can always pop a cheque into the post to me at the address on the bottom of the newsletter, every little helps so please help us.
The other way to help is by researching or looking for items that can be fitted into the airframe, a list of items that we need or jobs you can do online are below.
Fuselage construction photos:
If any member is in or going to be in the Plymouth area, there is an album of photographs held by the Council's archive service that MIGHT include images of the assembly of rear fuselages and other Whirlwind components by the local subcontractor, W. Mumford (Coachbuilders). http://archive.commercialmotor.com/article/18th-january-1946/21/a-bodybuilders-war-effort
They are held in this file – http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/archivescatalogue?record%3D0%26cid%3Drt510445wllbe455yeqtaabj%26criteria%3D3713 - the archivist there said she wasn’t good at aircraft recognition and that someone had better go and look for themselves.
And finally a message from our Chairman.
Hi looking for any information on wrecked and crashed Westland Whirlwind 1 fighters. And the fates of individual aircraft in more detail than those listed in the usual books. Cross reference for those crashed in the sea off channel Islands and Dutch coast wanted.
See you again soon.
The Secretary, 57 Bramblefield Lane, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME102SX.