Sunday, 1 March 2015

Chris Hayward
Copyright Whirlwind Fighter Project

    March Newsletter 

It's surprising just how many pieces of Whirlwind turn up on Ebay. We were lucky to be able to obtain a few more bits from the crash site of P7044 thanks to Jim Munro. These have caused some lively conversation amoung the team as to which part of the airframe they came from, especialy the piece that has red paint on it.

Copyright WFP 2011/2015
Copyright WFP 2011/2015
The top piece is suspected to come from around the fuel tank area as it appears to have a bit of the self sealing tank sandwiched between two layers of metal.

The smaller part underneath has yet to be identified.


Our 2nd AGM will be held on the 30th of May 2015 and will be held at the...
Premier Inn, The PhoenixCenter,Millennium Way West, Nottingham, NG8 6AS.

Start time will be 1300hrs and tea and coffee will be available.
Speakers will be announced in due course.
There will of course be a raffle to raise funds for the project.
Can you please let me know if you plan to attend by sending an email to the address at the bottom of this issue.
All are welcome. 

Please let me know if you plan to attend

Don't forget, it's never to late to donate

Your Whirlwind needs you

You can donate via Paypal at the shop site. 


New Publication

There is a new book out by Phil Listerman called 'Fighter Leaders' this contains amoungst 52 others both G Warnes and J Munro who flew Whirlwinds.

Details of the book and ordering can be found at this web site.Fighter Leaders Vol 1

From Jim Munro

Phil Listemann's new 'Fighter Leaders' publication has triggered some extremely interesting supplementary research on WWII airmen not yet represented within it including Whirlwind Squadron Commander (later W/Cdr) Reggie Baker who moved on to Typhoons and finally ran out of luck on 16th June 1944. 

In the last few days W/Cdr John McClure (RCAF wartime volunteer Whirlwind pilot) who flew with Reggie has very kindly provided the following few lines about him, a narrative with which we know that Rev George Wood will also concur:

S/L Reggie Baker

For me that photo brings back many wonderful memories. I can never forget my arrival on 263 Sqd., as one of the two Flight Commanders and meeting the Squadron Leader for the first time. Almost immediately I had the sense that here was someone whom I could trust to lead us through any adverse situation. Reggie was a dynamic person who was quick to assess a situation and act appropriately. I enjoyed his enthusiasm and the professional manner in which he would brief us prior to an operational trip. With his pipe (ever present) at the ready, he would carefully outline the operational plan and leave no doubt as to what was expected of each pilot. Once airborne we had implicit faith in his able leadership.   Jim please pass my best wishes to Reggie's son. His Dad was the best!

Jim Munro is working with Reggie's son Steve and daughter Helen to correct the omission and to instigate a renewed search for copies of wartime newsreel footage known to have been made of Reggie after the Abervrach Whirlwind raid. 
   If found, the soundtrack could reveal the sound of Reggie's voice to his son and his daughter for the very first time ever.........................

 If anyone can help in locating this old newsreel it would add greatly to the historical content on the Whirlwind and those that flew them.

 Whirlwind Operations

There are a few mis-conseptions about regarding the Whirlwind, one of which is the recognition markings that you see in the Picture below. These markings were not applied for the Dieppe raid of 1942 but for a spoof operation against Boulogne in 1943 an explaination of which follows.
Courtsey of Rob Bowater

By Michael Cumming, Surbiton, England

Operation Starkey was the invasion that never was. The war years are littered with stories of deception designed to confuse the enemy or to make then believe something that was no more than a figment of the planners' imaginations!  Systematic bombing of selected targets over several weeks in late August and early September 1943 and an invasion armada of empty ships were the key elements.
It is hardly surprising that an ever-increasing amount of information has become public knowledge about the intention, planning and implementation of the invasion of France on 6 June 1944. It is certainly surprising, though, that even today the public has such scant awareness of events of the previous summer - the summer of 1943 - that began with a detailed and particularly ambitious plan to involve the British and Canadian Armies, the Royal Navy and the Air Forces of Britain and the United States in preparations described as 'consistent with an assault on Boulogne'.

Popular among cross-Channel holidaymakers, Boulogne was among the most heavily-defended parts of the Pas de Calais region of Northern France. The scheme was that while this was to be a feint operation, every effort should be made for it to become an actuality 'should the circumstances become propitious' - which meant that if the enemy's hold over that part of the Continent showed signs of disintegrating, the opportunity would exist to turn play-acting into reality.


It was an momentous concept: British and Canadian troops, in their thousands, to be ready to go into the assembly areas; battleships to turn their massive guns against the German coastal batteries; some 15,000 fighter sorties, with 3,000 sorties by medium and heavy bombers in daylight and as many by night. The chosen beaches were those between Audresselles and Ambleteuse, six miles north of Boulogne, and those between the River Brone and Hardelot, seven miles south of Boulogne, with subsidiary attacks by seaborne commandos, Royal Marines unit and paratroops. The seaside resort of Le Portel was targeted for a further landing by sea, this to thwart any enemy bid to destroy the port of Boulogne before its seizure by the invading forces.

However the ultimately named Operation Starkey was progressively watered down for various reasons, among them a lack of resources and the opposition voiced within the 'top brass' - 'Bomber' Harris calling it 'at best a piece of harmless play-acting'. While there would no longer be any commitment to an assault by land forces, the apparent threat to the enemy throughout that part of Northern France would be there in strength, intensified by actual naval and air operations and extensive troop movements in Southern England. The First Canadian Army moved into deployment areas in the Portsmouth/Southampton sector and the British Second Army into the Dover/Folkestone/Newhaven sector, with landing craft assembled along the coast from Portsmouth to Dover.

In the Preliminary Phase, 16 to 24 August, some 680 USAAF and 156 RAF aircraft bombed airfields as well as transportation, industrial and other targets; in the Preparatory Phase, 25 August to 8 September, the bomber force swelled to 1,754 and 640 respectively, with the weight of the high explosives increasing from an overall 1,454 tons to 2,683 tons and the targets being broadened to include ammunition and fuel dumps concealed among the forests inland from Boulogne. In the Culminating Phase, 8 and 9 September, the USAAF and RAF bombers switched their attention pointedly to gun sites. As these would be a clear threat to any seaborne invasion force, bombing them would surely heighten the enemy's expectations of an imminent landing in the Pas de Calais - the purpose still of Operation Starkey, despite its by now considerably reduced scale.

Daybreak on 9 September 1943 saw the English Channel busier than at any time since the Dunkirk evacuation. In a 355-strong mini-armada sailing towards France were self-propelled Thames barges, cross-Channel pleasure steamers and destroyers, ready to beat off an attack... but they carried no invading army! To cap the pretence, the entire mile-wide 'assault force' responded to the code word Backchat at 0900 hours by making a smart 180 degree turn and sailing back to their UK ports. It was the invasion that never was... an operation that attracted little interest among the enemy but one, unfortunately, that must have cost many French lives in the bombing attacks which were a key factor in this deception activity, a toll as high as 500 in Le Portel alone - for it nestled between two key gun sites targeted in the Culminating Phase of Operation Starkey.

Courtsey of Rob Bowater

The pilots are– left to right standing – Robert Tuff, Paul Mercer, Bob Beaumont, George Wood, John Purkis, John McClure, Reg Baker, Dave Ross, Pete Cooper, Andy Wordsworth (Intelligence Officer)

Seated left to right – Denis Todd, Norman Blacklock, Bill Watkins, George Williams, Tommy Handley.

 P7056  "Pride of Yeovil" which is the aircraft that the project are building – was flown by F/S Bob Beaumont. On the first Op he turned back by mistake when he followed S/L Baker who had engine failure and aborted.  On the second attack he dive-bombed from 14,000 to 3,500 feet and the bombs landed within 150 yards of the target.  The third attack was also successful.

The escort pilots were ‘somewhat shocked by the steepness of the Whirlibombers dive.’  One gun was destroyed and another rendered u/s for eight hours.

Courtsey of Rob Bowater

 Rob Bowater believes the cartoon was drawn by Bob Beaumont.

(note the steep dive and the pull out)

This stunning model of a Whirwind all dressed up for operation Starkey is from the Hyperscale Model site and was constructed by Callum Gibson.

Whirley Stories

Picture from the web

Delivered from No18 MU on the during December 1940 to 263 Squadron. In March of 1941 she hit a tractor while Graham Lawson was at the controls she was again damaged on the 28th of September 1941 while at Charmy Down both times she was repaired on site. on the 29th of September she was alloted to 137 Squadron. On the 9th of February 1943 while at Warmwell she had an engine fail on take off and hit a tree. Sgt Macaulay was unhurt.
She was SOC 10th of April 43

Operational hours 96:10
Total hours 262:00


Copyright WFP 2011/2015
 There still are signed prints of the protype Whirlwind avaiable, these retail for £25.00 plus P&P direct from Rob Bowater.

Print by Dave Gibbins
Copyright WFP 2011/2015

T Shirts are still in stock and are £10.00 plus P&P
Copyright WFP 2011/2015

Baseball caps are £9.00 plus P&P
Copyright WFP 2011/2015

 Mugs £6.00 plus P&P
 Also available direct from Rob Bowater is his book on the Whirlwind Squadrons, please contact Rob direct for prices also don't forget the Print by Dave Gibbins.

To order from the shop please use this link Project shop

To order from Rob please contact him on

Paypal is available to buy merchandise and also to donate to the project. 

Contact details

Copyright Whirlwind Fighter Project 2011/2015

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