Author Topic: Westland Wirly-Wirly TF.III, Fleet Air Arm, Indian Ocean, 1943  (Read 1125 times)

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Offline rickshaw

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Westland Wirly-Wirly TF.III, Fleet Air Arm, Indian Ocean, 1943
« on: September 08, 2018, 10:00:15 pm »
Westland Wirly-Wirly TF.III, Fleet Air Arm, Indian Ocean, 1943

The Westland Whirlwind was a British twin-engined heavy fighter developed by Westland Aircraft. A contemporary of the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane, it was the first single-seat, twin-engined, cannon-armed fighter of the Royal Air Force.

When it first flew in 1938, the Whirlwind was one of the fastest combat aircraft in the world, and with four Hispano-Suiza HS.404 20mm autocannon in its nose, the most heavily armed. Protracted development problems with its Rolls-Royce Peregrine engines delayed the project and few Whirlwinds were built. During the Second World War, only three RAF squadrons were equipped with the Whirlwind but despite its success as a fighter and ground attack aircraft, it was withdrawn from service in 1943.

Westland's design team, under the new leadership of W. E. W. "Teddy" Petter (who later designed the English Electric Canberra, Lightning and Folland Gnat) designed an aircraft that employed state-of-the-art technology. The monocoque fuselage was tubular, with a T-tail at the end, although as originally conceived, the design featured a twin tail, which was discarded when large Fowler flaps were added that caused large areas of turbulence over the tail unit. By the employment of the T-tail, the elevator was moved up out of the way of the disturbed airflow caused when the flaps were down. Handley Page slats were fitted to the outer wings and to the leading edge of the radiator openings; these were interconnected by duraluminium torque tubes. In June 1941, the slats were wired shut on the recommendation of the Chief Investigator of the Accident Investigation Branch, after two Whirlwinds crashed when the outer slats failed during hard manœuvering; tests by the A&AEE confirmed that the Whirlwind's take-off and landing was largely unaffected with the slats locked shut, while the flight characteristics improved under the conditions in which the slats normally deployed.

Despite the Whirlwind's promise, production ended in January 1942, after the completion of just two prototypes and 112 production aircraft. Rolls-Royce needed to concentrate on the development and production of the Merlin, and the troubled Vulture, rather than the Peregrine. Westland was aware that its design – which had been built around the Peregrine – was incapable of using anything larger without an extensive redesign.  After the cancellation of the Whirlwind, Petter campaigned for the development of a Whirlwind Mk II, which was to have been powered by an improved 1,010 hp Peregrine, with a better, higher-altitude supercharger, also using 100 octane fuel, with an increased boost rating.  This proposal was aborted when Rolls-Royce cancelled work on the Peregrine. Building a Whirlwind consumed three times as much alloy as a Spitfire.

In 1940, the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm took an interest in the Whirlwind.  However, they needed a more reliable and more easily available engined version than the one powered by the Peregrine.  They needed a new, fast torpedo strike aircraft for operations from their carriers.  The Whirlwind seemed ideal for that, being small and while twin engined, they felt it could be operated from carriers without too much trouble.  Westlands were happy to entertain their desires and created the Whirlwind Mk.III, powered by the most powerful engines used on the type, the Bristol Hercules radial, rated at 1,356 hp (1,012 kW) at 2,750 rpm at 4,000 ft (1,220 m).

Initially armed with the same nose mounted four 20mm cannon, these were soon moved to the outboard wing leading edge to make room for radar equipment and to help balance the aircraft.  Equipped with a second crewman to act as a navigator and later radar operator, the aircraft was extended some 8 feet in length for the second crewman, situated in a tandem cockpit behind the pilot.  Equipped with folding wings, to reduce it’s stowage width, the Whirlwind could carry an 18 inch airborne torpedo under it’s wing centre section.

Renamed the “Wirly-Wirly” by Westlands in the hope that they would be able to sell them to the Australians (“Wirly-Wirly” is an Aboriginal word meaning, “Whirlwind”), the aircraft sailed through it’s acceptance trials with ease, outperforming all the Fleet Air Arm’s single-engined aircraft.  However, the RAAF had decided to adopt the Bristol Beaufighter instead as they could then utilise the tooling they had created to build the British Beaufort.

Coming aboard the Fleet’s carriers in numbers in mid-1941 it saw limited service in the North Atlantic before sailing for the Indian Ocean in light of the rapidly increasing Japanese threat.  In 1942, when the Imperial Japanese Navy made it’s foray into the Indian Ocean after it’s attack at Pearl Harbor against the US Navy, they were met by two squadrons of Wirly-Wirlies, operating from land bases in Ceylon.   Attacking the IJN Carrier force in conjunction with Vickers Wellington torpedo bombers, redeployed from Malta for the emergency, they sank one carrier and damaged two others.   Able to defend themselves against the agile Mitsubishi Zero fighters with their four 20mm cannon they lost only five aircraft from their numbers during the brief campaign against the Japanese Navy.

The Model

I have spoken on several forums about the possibility of adding Hercules engines to the Whirlwind airframe instead of the existing Peregrine engines.  I purchase both an 1/72 Airfix Whirlwind kit from Evilbay and a set of replacement Hercules engines from High Planes Models.  I assembled and then removed the Peregrine engines from the Whirlwind and affixed the Hercules engines.   The Hercules was aboue four millimetres greater in diameter so I built up the rear part of the engine nacelles to match using putty.  I then sawed the outer wing panels off and created some “hinges” using a paperclip.   I then cut the existing fuselage just at the level of the instrument panel, inserted a piece of brass tube and glued the nose cone back on.  I filled the holes for the cannon and drilled new ones in the wing leading edge on the outer wing section.  From the spares box I used some brass 20mm cannon intended for a spitfire.  The cockpits were scratchbuilt and I used from EvilBay a set of Tempest Mk.I cockpits.  The 18in Torpedo came from an Airfix Beaufighter courtesy of Chris.  Hey presto!  A Westland Wirly-Wirly was created!
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Offline TomZ

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Re: Westland Wirly-Wirly TF.III, Fleet Air Arm, Indian Ocean, 1943
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2018, 12:38:42 am »
Great idea!

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Offline NARSES2

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Re: Westland Wirly-Wirly TF.III, Fleet Air Arm, Indian Ocean, 1943
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2018, 02:06:56 am »
Now I was only musing on the idea of a naval Merlin engined Whirlwind yesterday. Couldn't make my mind up if it would be a torpedo fighter or not then.

The Hercules engines fit better then I would have thought.

Don't forget to post these in the finished models section Brian
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Offline zenrat

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Re: Westland Wirly-Wirly TF.III, Fleet Air Arm, Indian Ocean, 1943
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2018, 02:07:25 am »
Me likey.

Your mention of making wing fold hinges from paperclips has me thinking about making working ones using the same material.  Oh dear...

- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..

Offline Captain Canada

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Re: Westland Wirly-Wirly TF.III, Fleet Air Arm, Indian Ocean, 1943
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2020, 06:07:58 am »
So cool ! Hopefully those spindly little legs can handle the deck lol
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