1/32 Westland Whirlwind F Mk I, Special Hobby

stona

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This has finally appeared on my door mat.

Whirlwind.png

It's been a long time coming, and is a subject that has been sadly lacking in anything above quarter scale.

It is new, so I thought it would be worth giving my impressions of what's in the box as a completely unbiased 'man on the Clapham omnibus'. I have no connection to the manufacturer or any other interested party, other than those who might fancy a stab at this themselves.

In the box you get two bags with eight grey plastic sprues, a sprue of clear parts, a decal sheet and instructions. There's the usual bit of promotional stuff for you to recycle. It's exactly what you would expect. I'm sure the after market people will be producing upgrades in the future, but for now what you see is what you get.

I've built several kits from this manufacturer and my first impression was that it has a fairly large parts count! Second was that the grey plastic looks very nicely moulded. The detail is crisp, much more so than the rather soft detail on some of their kits, and a cursory inspection revealed little flash or other mould marks. The clear sprue has a handful of parts which all look, well, clear. So far so good. I am no photographer but I have attempted a snap of one of the instrument panel options, as it gives a good idea of the quality of the moulding.

IMG_2545.JPG

Obviously I can't comment on the fit and engineering of the kit as yet, but I am definitely encouraged.

Special Hobby produce some interesting instruction sheets. This one is recognisably in their style, but again is better than some of the efforts I have had to interpret. All nicely done.

IMG_2548.JPG

The decals are by Cartograph. My experience with Cartograph decals has always been good, though some care is needed when applying them. They don't take well to rough handling!
They are nicely printed, in register, etc., as you would expect.

The kit gives options for four different aircraft, two in the Temperate Land Scheme (Dark earth/Dark Green over Sky, one option has a black port wing underside as seen in late 1940) and two in the Day Fighter Scheme (Ocean Grey/Dark Green over Medium Sea Grey). I think that's generous, but there is a problem with some of the markings. I'm afraid that Special Hobby have made a bit of a dog's dinner of a couple of the options.

Kit Option 1: P6985 HE-J, No. 263 Squadron.
This one is okay. It crashed and was destroyed on 11 March 1941.

Kit Option 2: P7061 HE-A, No. 263 Squadron.
This is okay too, though eventually it passed to No.137 Squadron, coded SF-A, where it was involved in a collision on 13 January 1943 and subsequently written off.

Kit Option 3: P7118 HE-F ‘Bellows Argentina No. 2’ No 263 Squadron.
This one is completely wrong. P7118 was coded SF-O and was a No. 137 Squadron aircraft. It was also ‘Bellows Argentina No.4’
You can make ‘Bellows Argentina No. 2’ by altering the serial number to P7116 (easily done by chopping up the available decals) and using the code HE-F from the kit (or J or S, which this aircraft also wore).

Kit Option 4: P7081 HE-E ‘Bellows Argentina No. 3’ No. 262 Squadron.
Without beating about the bush, unless they know something I don't, P7081 was not a serial number for a Whirlwind. I have no idea where Special Hobby found the number. I have two different lists of serials for all the Whirlwinds supplied to the RAF and this number is not in either of them.
You can easily make ‘Bellows Argentina No. 3’ by altering the serial number to P7117. You may then apply the kit code of HE-E (or A, G or H all of which this aircraft wore).

I haven't decided which option I will make, but it will either be 2 (in the Temperate Land Scheme) or 4 (in the Day Fighter Scheme)

My only other niggle would be that there is no seat harness supplied in a kit which costs not far short of seventy quid. I will definitely be adding one, which will put something like a tenner on the overall cost. It adds up to a lot of anyone's money!

Small complaints aside, if the kit builds as well as it looks it should be fun! We'll see :smiling3:

Edit: Looking at the decal sheet, some of the roundels would be wrong for some of the versions in the DFS. It looks like I will be checking my spare decals and masks!
 
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Tim Marlow

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One of my favourite birds is this! I have an unfinished Trumpy 1/48 on the shelf of shame, so you might push me into finishing it....
I still think that if this aircraft had made squadron status six months earlier, with all the issues ironed out, it would have stopped the daylight BoB in its tracks. It would have torn those bomber fleets to shreds!
 

Vaughan

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Looks like this is going to be an interesting build Steve. Not sure where you bought the kit from but I've seen it for only £56 from Jadlam toys and models and that includes free postage.
 

stona

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Not sure where you bought the kit from but I've seen it for only £56 from Jadlam toys and models and that includes free postage.
Hannants. Could have saved myself a tenner, or got a free harness, depending how you look at it :smiling3:
 

adt70hk

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Steve

Really looking forward to this. Ever since I heard about the plane years ago I've always liked the look of it. From what I gather the main stumbling block was problems with the engines. Is that right?

ATB.

Andrew
 

stona

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Steve

Really looking forward to this. Ever since I heard about the plane years ago I've always liked the look of it. From what I gather the main stumbling block was problems with the engines. Is that right?

ATB.

Andrew
There were a lot of problems with the Whirlwind, which the company/Petter were very slow to address. There were issues with the canopy, intake manifolds, exhausts, throttles, collapsing tail wheels (never properly fixed), and sometimes fatally the leading edge slats, just to mention the ones I can remember of off the top of my head.

The engines were really not particularly unreliable, though some accidents were caused by their failure.

There are lots of reasons given for the Whirlwinds demise, and limited use. Most obviously from a tactical point of view was its woefully low ceiling and inability to fight at the sort of altitudes already being seen during the Battle of Britain. Even S/Ldr Eeles of No. 263 Squadron wrote that,

"The performance of the Whirlwind above 20,000 feet falls off quite rapidly and it is considered that above 25,000 feet its fighting qualities are very poor."

It couldn't even reach a Bf 109 coming across the coast at 30,000 feet.

In October and November 1940, Westland, the Ministry of Aircraft Production and the Air Ministry all suggested that the Whirlwind's technical problems might be more easily addressed if No. 263 Squadron were moved to 10 Group, somewhere close to the Westland factory at Yeovil. Dowding's reply to the Air Ministry was diplomatic.

"...the squadrons in 10 Group have a considerable amount of fighting to do and must be in fully operational condition."

His reply to Beaverbrook (at the MAP) was more blunt.

"I purposely put 263 Squadron well out of the way because I know Westlands and I know what a packet of trouble the squadron would be in for. I cannot put them anywhere in the South because I cannot carry any passengers in that part of the world."

Much is made of factors like these, but the reality is far simpler. The aircraft was designed and built around the Rolls-Royce Peregrine. As early March 1939 Hives (Rolls-Royce) had written to the Air Ministry,

"If there was a war, it would be obvious that the main production would be on the standardised and proved types of engines. Our proposal is that it should be a definite policy of the Air Ministry that the plant for producing the standard engine, which in our case is the Merlin, should not be broken down to produce another type."

Later in 1939 Rolls-Royce rationalised production and several engines, including the Peregrine and Exe were dropped. When the first production Peregrine was delivered in February 1940 the decision had already been made to cease production after 290 units. To all intents, the Whirlwind was doomed from that point on, and was limited to a production run of just 114 aircraft.
 

stona

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Edit: I missed quoting Tim.
"It stayed in service unmodified for a long time though.... "

Well, not entirely unmodified, in the sense that they fixed some of the problems. It's correct to say that the Whirlwinds retired in late 1943 were essentially the same as those that entered service in 1940/41, which is not something you could say about the Spitfire.

A lot of the issues were addressed, some were fixed by simple expedients. The slats were wired closed for example. Some had to be fixed because they had resulted in the grounding of the type. The cracking of wingtip fairings after as little as ten flying hours being a case in point.

The tailwheel issue persisted. On some occasions this caused the cracking of the rear bulkhead casting, entailing a major repair. There are more than 150 recorded instances of Whirlwinds being rendered U/S by tail wheel collapses. Given that just two squadrons operated the type for just over three years that is a remarkably high number.

Serviceability was always an issue. When No 263 Squadron finally was finally made up to its full complement of 16 aircraft, on 7 December 1940, just 6 were serviceable. Later in the war Nos. 263 and 137 Squadrons rarely operated at squadron strength. Both often struggled to field a full Flight, sometimes even a Section of four aircraft. The last Whirlwind squadron did manage a 12 aircraft fly-over of the Westland factory on 4 January 1944, to mark the end of the types front line service. The type had been declared obsolescent and demoted to non-operational flying on 1 January. No 263 Squadron's diary was very decent about the Whirlwind, saying that they had

"...given stout service. The squadron had been very pleased to fly them"

which is fair enough.

In the end it was an expensive aircraft, using two engines and a lot of valuable materiel to lift four initially unreliable cannons with just 60 rounds per gun.

It was absolutely the correct decision to axe both the Peregrine and the Whirlwind, but it doesn't change the fact that it was a beautiful aeroplane, just not quite good enough, and against which the gears of war turned unfavourably.
 

Tim Marlow

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It was absolutely the correct decision to axe both the Peregrine and the Whirlwind, but it doesn't change the fact that it was a beautiful aeroplane, just not quite good enough, and against which the gears of war turned unfavourably.
[/QUOTE]

Amen to that Steve. Much rather go into combat in a Whirlwind than a Battle or a Roc though......now they Were a complete waste of material and manpower.....and they were bloody ugly an’ all!
 

stona

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I have made a start on the kit. As is the usual case the first few hours don't produce much to shout about, but I've got this much built and ready to prime.

IMG_2549.JPG

Next up will be the gubbins (technical term that) on the other side of what will be the cockpit.

Continuing in review mode, my first impressions are generally good. The sprues are numbered and labelled, not always the case with Special Hobby kits, and though you will find yourself with four or five on the go at the same time due to the way they have been organised, I appreciate that they've done this.

There really is minimal flash and most parts therefore require minimal clean up, just a quick scrape and/or swipe with some sandpaper, so very good.

The instructions and fit of some of the small parts are a bit vague, but I'm used to that. There's nothing that can't be figured out, and it shouldn't put you off. I've had the two fuselage halves together to make sure those bulkheads are square and I would describe that fit as average. It is not bad, but I think that it will require some fettling.

Overall, so far so good!
 

prichrd1

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Steve,
Looks a good kit, might invest in one, [one day] always liked the style/shape of the two "large" engines protruding out of the wings.

Never really read up on the history of this beastie tho' - so thank you for enlightening us "non wingy type" peeps with all the above
info. :thumb2::thumb2:

I'm sure that once you have worked your usual magic - this will be a true swan and not an ugly gosling!! :smiling:. :thumb2:

Paul.
:smiling:
 

stona

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I'm sure that once you have worked your usual magic - this will be a true swan and not an ugly gosling!! :smiling:. :thumb2:

Paul.
:smiling:
Thanks Paul, I appreciate your confidence....and I hope that you're right :smiling3:
 

stona

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While I have the fuselage taped together seemed like a good time to attempt to show the busy detail in the cockpit. There's plenty in there, much more than I was expecting to be honest. There are a lot of little levers to fit, which will give your magnifier and fine tweezers a good workout.

This is the best I could do with the photos.

IMG_2552.JPG

IMG_2553.JPG

Everything is OOB. The instrument panel decals are not my favourite way of doing things, but by applying them on a pool of Klear and in several more pieces than the instructions would have you do it, they have made a decent job of it. As the varnish dries it really sucks the decals into the detail.
There are two instrument panel options, so I hacked up the unused one to do various other dials for which they were not really intended.

The instructions would have you fit the seat right at the end, after the fuselage if glued together (after the wings are on too). That seems a hard way of doing it. The seat attaches to the bulkhead visible in the pictures, not the cockpit floor (which is part of the wing assembly). I think I'll be fitting it before I zip up the fuselage.

Overall, I remain fairly impressed. Special Hobby have upped their game in recent years, and it shows in this kit... so far at least :smiling3:
 

adt70hk

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Coming on very nicely Steve.

Well done so far.

Andrew
 

stona

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I woke up this morning, and thought I'd get the seat in.

The seat is supposed to be dropped into the assembled fuselage much later. Having fitted it now I can tell you that would be a very, very fiddly task. I don't see why it will interfere with anything later; if it does I'll deal with it then.

The harness is a horrible paper and PE effort from HGW (?) that I found in the spare decals box, for reasons unknown. I think it's one that I've avoided using until now. I've seen worse.

IMG_2554.JPG
 
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