Friday, 1 May 2015

      May newsletter

Building has now commenced

At long last after four years the team can announce that the building of P7056 "Pride of Yeovil" has begun. The first time in over 70 years that a part for a Westland Whirlwind Fighter has been fabricated. A lot of thanks must go to the research team who dug out all the photographs and data, AgustaWestland for letting us have what plans survived and their faith in this project, Gunnar Olsen for the many hours that he spent recreating the plans from scratch and then redoing them if they were one iota out and also to Matt Bearman and Mike Eastman who put this idea together from a simple email.
Mike who is our Chairman and who also runs the Aircraft Restoration Group at his workshop near Ripon has now, with his dedicated volunteer team, cut out 3 of the frames plus the doublers and wireless tray bearers which form part of the rear fuselage structure.
Also underway is construction of the unusual and challenging angled 'Frame 10' fuselage join - with thanks to Steve Vizard and the team at Airframe Assemblies for their technical help.

Copyright WFP 2011/2015
 The yellow frames in the above graphic are the ones that have now been cut out.

Copyright WFP 2011/2015

Copyright WFP 2011/2015

Copyright WFP 2011/2015

Copyright WFP 2011/2015

Copyright WFP 2011/2015

Copyright WFP 2011/2015

Copyright WFP 2011/2015

There will be more updates as we go along.

Book News

New to us at the WFP is a book called "Tasmanian Whirlwind" about the flying career of Pilot Officer Max Cotton DFC RAAF, who flew Westland Whirlwind fighters with 263 Squadron RAF 1942-43 is now up for grabs on Kindle...Although I have not 'Kindled' it I suspect that this will be an electronic copy of what Lex wrote about Max Cotton in his book 'Six Aces'. I can thoroughly recommend it if it is as I have a copy of 'Six Aces' and have only just finished re-reading the section on Max Cotton's flying career with 263 Squadron on Whirlwinds.

Taken from the Flypast Forum with thanks to Stu and Paul. 


Our 2nd AGM will be held on the 30th of May 2015 and will be held at the...

Premier Inn, The Phoenix Center, Millennium Way West, Nottingham, NG8 6AS.

Start time will be 1300hrs and tea and coffee will be available.

This year we have been able to arrange a number of speakers each doing about 20 minutes.

Jim Munro on "Ghosts of the Whirlwind".
Dave Birch from the RR Heritage Museum on the Peregrine.
Mike Coghlan on his father Humphrey who flew with 137 Sq.  
Roger Bailey from the Shuttleworth Trust.

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.

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

Your Whirlwind needs you

You can donate via Paypal at the shop site. 


Whirlwind Stories 


Arrived at 263 Squadron on the 21st of February 1941 who were then at Exeter, on the 9th of April she went to A&AEE. She seemed to spend the next couple of years being moved between MU's and AFDU until November 1943 when she was damaged by flack while being flown by David Ross. she was scrapped on the 30th of September 1944.
She is seen in the picture above in Whirly Bomber configeration.

Operational hours just 41:45

Many thanks must go to  Rob Bowater,

Teddy Petter's grave in France.......'derelict'

Jim Munro has been passed a courtesy copy of a letter received in March by the British Embassy in Paris. It indicates that WEW ('Teddy') Petter's grave at Beruges near Poitiers is in a state of disrepair hence in danger of being reused.   A subsequent discussion with various people at Westland indicates that they plan to take appropriate action without delay.   JM will let everyone know what is intended to be done once that becomes clear.

Whirlwind anecdote from 6th March 2015 lunch with Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown and two veteran 263 Squadron pilots.

In response to ‘popular demand’ Jim Munro hosted this lunch at the Duke’s Head, Copthorne approximately 12 months after the same distinguished trio met at a book signing at The Aviation Bookshop, Tunbridge Wells.  The Rev George Wood and Flt Lt Johnnie Shellard were those two veterans.

Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown and two veteran 263 Squadron pilots.

Jim Munro took the opportunity to show Captain Brown a very positive single page text description of flying the Whirlwind that had recently surfaced written by the late Group Captain Arthur Donaldson.  There was however one claim in it with which Eric felt he could not agree, namely the suggestion that the Whirlwind was as manoeuvrable as the Luftwaffe’s Fw 190.

Important to realise at this point is that the latter aircraft is one of Eric’s three most admired single-seat fighters of WWII, the other two being the Spitfire and the Mustang (in appropriate later Marks, of course).
The Rev George Wood and Flt Lt Johnnie Shellard

Now this matter obviously had no adverse impact at all on the very convivial atmosphere of this extended lunch, however whilst driving home that afternoon Jim Munro suddenly remembered a vital performance influencing factor he had ‘til then overlooked, as follows.   

In the configuration in which it first went to war the Whirlwind had moveable wing slats, outer and inner.  However, by the time the aircraft was briefly evaluated by Captain Brown in 1942 those outer wing slats had been locked in position.  Why?  Simply to prevent inadvertent deployments that had been the cause of some ‘serious problems’…   Moreover it was probably felt that in its low level ground attack/dive bomber role the Whirlwind had less need for moveable outer slats.

Now by a happy coincidence an Email from Canadian Whirlwind Pilot John McClure was received almost within hours of the lunch explaining that the outer slats had already been locked in place by the time he joined the squadron, John provided background to the impact of that decision.

So, by 1st Class Letter Post this new fact was communicated onwards to Captain Brown who, happily, rang the very next day to tell JM that ‘everything was now clear!’.

To close this chapter, whilst it is clear that the ‘rediscovery’ of this factor is unlikely to move the Whirlwind into Eric’s top three most admired fighter aircraft, at least it has partially closed a rather yawning gap that had become apparent between Eric’s views and those of three senior Whirlwind veterans namely Group Captains Donaldson and Bartlett backed up by W/Cdr John McClure, RCAF.

And finally on this topic, the indifferent perceptions of the Whirlwind acquired by Peter Twiss when he ferried the U.S. based one across Florida in January 1944 were almost certainly influenced by the non-operational fuel gauges and extremely marginal serviceability of that aircraft as he coaxed it carefully over five separate hops in order to complete its very last flight, namely to Eglin Field, Fl!  The hydraulic engine controls will also not have helped!  And by that late time in the war the relatively diminutive Whirly was simply being (literally) overshadowed by several much larger engined US fighters that came to dominate the end of WWII…….though without any real speed advantage until the jets arrived!

Many thanks to Jim Munro for the above article. 

 Peregrine Engines

CAD by Rene Peters

Over the years there has been a lot of discussion regarding the pro's and con's of the Peregrine, Dave Gibbings and Matt Bearman have been good enough to put together their thoughts on the engine for us and to try and dispell some of the myths surrounding it.

Matt starts

The altitudes at which dogfights happened is an interesting one. I am currently looking into the reality of this. There was something of a height obsession prevalent at the time, leading to the development of the Welkin to counter a high-altitude threat that never really materialised.

It would appear that most actual dogfighting in 1940 (as opposed to bomber intercepts) took place at altitudes well below 15,000 feet. The logical propensity to turn height into speed meant that most fights assumed a downwards trajectory once contact was made. The job, should the WW have been used as an interceptor ('bomber destroyer') in 1940, would be to 'get in quickly, punch hard, get out' to quote 'Sailor' Malan.. and this would have been quite within the aircraft's capabilities, even if getting out involved diving for a height it could match any 109 at.


So, without development of the supercharger the WW would never make a great escort fighter for allied high-altitude heavy bomber streams - but this is about as far from its intended role as is possible to get.
I don't think that Peter Twiss was uncomplimentary about the Whirlwind? The one he famously flew cross-country in the US had a dodgy compass. He acknowledged that the airframe was very tired by then, and seemed to think it did pretty well, considering.
The key thing for me is the 'unreliable engines' nonsense. Rolls Royce deserve this even less than Westland!

Dave Gibbins continues

 I offer a Flight Test Engineers perspective.

Although it was developed from the Merlin/Kestrel range of engines , the Peregrine was to all intents and purposes An undeveloped engine.  This meant that all the first units had comparatively short declared Engine life with a number of restrictions on usage such as :A limitation on the power Temperatures and engine RPM allowable.

All this Slows down development, and puts up the cost . Any flight test engineer will tell you to avoid testing a new aircraft and a new engine simultaneously . 

 In 1940 we were very limited For resources. As regards replacing Peregrine with Merlin This too would be difficult, Early Merlins Weighed 1400 pounds/ Peregrines 1100 pounds, 600 pounds difference plus the extra power, would require stronger heavier installation , a stronger undercarriage a revised stress measurement program , reassessment of performance and a multitude of areas would require retest.  This does not come to nothing and could have added 50 to 100 hours flying ,A great deal of analysis time   All tying up resources We did not have .

1n 1940 above all we needed interceptors, not escort fighters, and one aircraft per engine is a better deal than one aircraft per two engines. No matter what the fire power or small performance advantage.

All this doesn’t make the WW a bad aircraft, it is just force majeure. The shortcomings of Hurricanes and Spitfire were well understood, and the poor kids who flew them, could be trained to avoid them, it was going to take time for the same proven data to become available for the WW, and believe it or not a twin engine fighter vs a single is a debatable subject.

Given the time and resources we did not have, I am sure  the WW would have delivered, but I do believe the right decisions were made under the dire circumstances of the times.

I really think it time we eased off debating the decision to cut back on WW, and celebrate its engineering and its potential, for the great aircraft it was. 
Dave G
CAD by Rene Peters


Mug £6.00 plus P&P

T Shirt £10 plus P&P
Now limited stock

Signed print of the Whirlwind Prototype by Dave Gibbins.

£25.00 plus P&P

Baseball Cap £9.00 plus P&P

For a copy of Robs book please contact him direct on

For other items please go to the web shop at webstore

Contact details

The Whirlwind Fighter Project is a member of the BAPC.

Copyright WFP 2011/2015

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