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Great Britain's Westland Whirlwind fighter
Nickname: "Whirlibombers"

Photos

Westland Whirlwind fighter:
Great Britain's Westland Whirlwind fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Westland Whirlwind fighter:
Great Britain's Westland Whirlwind fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Westland Whirlwind fighter:
Great Britain's Westland Whirlwind fighter
©IWM

Design

The Whirlwind was designed to meet a 1935 specification for a "cannon fighter." The initial design could carry four 20 mm cannons.

The Westland Whirlwind was plagued by unreliable engines.

Cockpit

The Whirlwind's cockpit afforded the pilot excellent views.

Tail

The rudder went all the way to the bottom of the fin allowing for the Whirlwind to aim the aircraft accurately on a bomb run. The tail plane was mounted high in the tail which assisted in dive bombing.

Prototype

In February 1937 a contract for two prototypes was issued. The first prototype flew on October 11, 1938.

Production

An order for production Whirlwinds was placed in January 1939.

  • Prototype: 2
  • Whirlwinds: 112
    • Manufacturer: Westland Aircraft Ltd.
    • Production: - December 1941.

Variants

  • Prototype:
  • Whirlwind Mk I: Production version. First delivered in June 1940.

Usage

The Westland Whirlwinds only equipped two squadrons, the 263 and 137 Nos Squadrons. The No. 263 Squadron received their Whirlwinds in December 1940 and the No. 137 Squadron in September 1941. The Whirlwinds were replaced at the end of 1943.

The Whirlwind was used with success against ships and ground targets. Bomb laden Whirlwinds were called "Whirlibombers" by their pilots.

In August 1941 Whirlwinds shot down four Bf. 109s and sunk an E-Boat.

Secret

The first time the British public learned of the Whirlwind was in a German magazine.

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau Attacks

The Whirlwinds participated in the attacks in February 1941 on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

Specifications

  Westland Whirlwind
Type Fighter
Crew  
Engine (Type) 2: Rolls-Royce Peregrine
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP 885 each
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 45'
Length 31' 6"
Height 11' 7"
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed 350 mph
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Fuselage nose 4: 20 mm
  Westland Whirlwind Mk I
Type Fighter, Fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) 2: Rolls-Royce Peregrine piston
2: Rolls-Royce Peregrine I
Cylinders V 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 885 each
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 45'
13.72 m
Length 32' 9"
9.98 m
Height 11' 6", 11' 7"
3.52 m, 3.53 m
Wing area 250 ft2
23.22 m2
Weight  
Empty 8,294 lb, 8,310 lb
3,769 kg, 3,770 kg
Loaded 10,270 lb, 10,356 lb, 11,365 lb
4,697 kg, 5,166 kg
Maximum load 11,388 lb
5,165 kg
Performance  
Speed 360 mph
580 kph
Speed @ 15,000' /
4,570 m
360 mph, 390 mph
579 kph
Speed @ 15,000' /
4,570 m with bombs
270 mph
434 kph
Climb 1,550'/minute
472 m/minute
Climb to 15,000' /
4,570 m
5.8 minutes
Service ceiling 30,000'
9,144 m
Range 800 miles
1,287 km, 1,290 km
Armament  
Fuselage nose 4: 20 mm
4: 20 mm Hispano
Bombs under wings 1,000 lb
454 kg

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
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