The Westland Whirlwind fighter was designed to a 1935 specification. Far/35. for a single seat day and night fighter. it was the product or one or Britain’s most innovative aircraft designers. W. E. W. Fetter. (also famous for designing the Canberra Bomber and Folland Gnat lightweight fighter) With all-metal construction, the twin engined layout of the new tighter allowed a battery of four 20mm cannons to be concentrated in the nose. The low set wings also giving the pilot excellent all around vision, its streamlined cockpit canopy was also to set the standard for most wartime fighters At that time. it was the first twin engined fighter with such heavy armament to be proposed for the RAF. and during the first flight of the prototype on 11 October 1938 it performed so well that the Air Ministry placed production orders for 400 machines Delete the outbreak of war However. this order was subject to satisfactory testing which. in the event. was something that would have serious consequences for its future. One problem lay With the limitations or its Peregrine engines. Which suffered poor performance at anything other than low altitudes. Lower down the aircraft displayed superb handling characteristics, and could outpace the Spitfire. Perhaps because or its heavy armament and performance. the Air Ministry tried to keep the Whirlwind a secret not, publicly acknowledging its existence until 1942!
Despite the promising start other problems had arisen quite apart from, but linked with the engines; the
testing period required for the aircraft delayed development at a critical time, and by the time the first
production aircraft flew in May 1940 the priorities to’ our fighter aircraft had changed to one or higher
altitude performances to meet the challenges of the German Luftwaffe. Following initial deliveries of the first production machines to No.25 Squadron at Northolt in June 1940. it was then decided to reallocate deliveries to No.263 Sqn. at Drem. which would now overcome the ﬁrst operational squadron: it was December 01 that year before this happened, Due to major commitment to production of Merlin engines. Rolls Royce was not allowed to allocate any resources to upgrade its Peregrine engine. and the Whirlwind airframe was not capable at being adapted to the more powerful Merlin without extensive redesign. which also was not permitted Thus the type was relegated to what it could do best . low level interceptions and attacks Meanwhile. production orders had been slashed to 114 aircraft. and the Whirlwind was only ever to equip two squadrons. Having moved south. from May 1943 None Sqn began convoy patrols in the English Channel and ‘Warhead’ low-level overland attacks using their cannons. they also had some spectacular successes against Messerschmitt Bf109s. No.137 Squadron received Whirlwinds in September 1941, and both squadrons became involved in ‘Rhubarbs‘, massive lighter sweeps against ground targets in France and the low countries. The Whirlwind was also adapted to carry bombs, with the first successful attacks on enemy shipping on 9 September 1942; the type excelled in this intruder role by both day and night until it was withdrawn from front line service in 1943 following introduction of the Hawker Typhoon. Two Rolls Royce 885 hp Peregrine in-line piston engines gave the Whirlwind a maximum speed of 507km/h 315 mph) at 1.523m (5.000″). Nose armament comprised four 20mm Hispano Cannons and up to two 227m (500lb) bombs under the Wings Wingspan: 13.7m (45ft) Length 9.83m (32ft 13in). Height 3:2m (10ft 6in)