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

Photos

Westland Whirlwind fighter:
Great Britain's Westland Whirlwind fighter

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
Westland Whirlwind fighter:
Great Britain's Westland Whirlwind fighter

Westland Whirlwind fighter:
Great Britain's Westland Whirlwind fighter
Westland Whirlwind fighter:
Great Britain's Westland Whirlwind fighter

Westland Whirlwind fighter:
Great Britain's Westland Whirlwind fighter
Imperial War Museum

Design

The Whirlwind was designed to meet a 1935 specification for a "cannon fighter."2 The initial design could carry four 20 mm cannons.2

The Westland Whirlwind was plagued by unreliable engines.1,3

Cockpit

The Whirlwind's cockpit afforded the pilot excellent views.1

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.1 The tail plane was mounted high in the tail which assisted in dive bombing.1

Prototype

In February 1937 a contract for two prototypes was issued.2 The first prototype flew on October 11, 1938.2,3

Production

An order for production Whirlwinds was placed in January 1939.2

  • Prototype: 22
  • Whirlwinds: 1121,2,3
    • Manufacturer: Westland Aircraft Ltd.3
    • Production: - December 1941.1

Variants

  • Prototype:
  • Whirlwind Mk I: Production version.2 First delivered in June 1940.2

Usage

The Westland Whirlwinds only equipped two squadrons, the 263 and 137 Nos Squadrons.1,2 The No. 263 Squadron received their Whirlwinds in December 1940 and the No. 137 Squadron in September 1941.1 The Whirlwinds were replaced at the end of 1943.2

The Whirlwind was used with success against ships and ground targets.1 Bomb laden Whirlwinds were called "Whirlibombers" by their pilots.1,2

In August 1941 Whirlwinds shot down four Bf. 109s and sunk an E-Boat.1

Secret

The first time the British public learned of the Whirlwind was in a German magazine.1

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau Attacks

The Whirlwinds participated in the attacks in February 1941 on the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.1

Specifications

  Westland Whirlwind
Type Fighter4
Crew  
Engine (Type) 2: Rolls-Royce Peregrine4
Cylinders  
Cooling  
HP 885 each4
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 45'4
Length 31' 6"4
Height 11' 7"4
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed 350 mph4
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Fuselage nose 4: 20 mm4
  Westland Whirlwind Mk I
Type Fighter1, Fighter bomber1,2,3
Crew 11,2,3
Engine (Type) 2: Rolls-Royce Peregrine piston1
2: Rolls-Royce Peregrine I2,3
Cylinders V 122,3
Cooling Liquid1
HP 885 each1,2
Propeller blades 31,2
Dimensions  
Span 45'1,2,3
13.72 m1,2
Length 32' 9"1,2,3
9.98 m1,2
Height 11' 6"1, 11' 7"2,3
3.52 m1, 3.53 m2
Wing area 250 ft2 1
23.22 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 8,294 lb1, 8,310 lb2
3,769 kg2, 3,770 kg1
Loaded 10,270 lb3, 10,356 lb2, 11,365 lb1
4,697 kg2, 5,166 kg1
Maximum load 11,388 lb2
5,165 kg2
Performance  
Speed 360 mph1
580 kph1
Speed @ 15,000' /
4,570 m
360 mph3, 390 mph2
579 kph2
Speed @ 15,000' /
4,570 m with bombs
270 mph2
434 kph2
Climb 1,550'/minute2
472 m/minute2
Climb to 15,000' /
4,570 m2
5.8 minutes2
Service ceiling 30,000'1,2,3
9,144 m1,2
Range 800 miles1,2
1,287 km2, 1,290 km1
Armament  
Fuselage nose 4: 20 mm2,3
4: 20 mm Hispano1
Bombs under wings 1,000 lb1,2,3
454 kg1,2

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
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site

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