Classic Airframes 1/48 Whirlwind I






Several Aircraft


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Short run kit


The Westland Whirlwind is the first single seat twin engine fighter ever used by the Royal Air Force. Fast, with a rather nasty punch (four 20mm cannons grouped in the nose), it was a brilliant performer at low altitude. Sadly, its 885 h.p. Rolls Royce Peregrine engines were its Achilles' heel. As Rolls Royce was busy developing the fabulous Merlin, and as grafting a new engine to the Whirlwind would have caused major redesign work, the plane never had a chance and only 112 left Westland's assembly lines to equip two RAF Squadrons. Used first as an interceptor, the Whirlwind ended its career as a fighter-bomber and was replaced by the mighty Typhoon in 1943.


Let's start with a scoop : this is no Tamigawa. Now, we can start being serious, and look at what's in the box. This is a multi-media model :we find injected, resin, photoetch, metal and vac parts. Fuselage, wings, tail plane, engine nacelles and propellers are made of thick injected styrene, and they need a thorough cleaning before being used. The panel lines are very delicate.

The « big » parts of the cockpit are resin, as are the cannons (of which five are supplied, thank you Jules !), the wheels and the spinners. Most resin parts are molded on a resin backing plate which should lead to very entertaining times trying to cleanly separate the parts from the plates. The parts are splendid nonetheless. The seat belts are photoetch (13 parts, bring some Prozac !), and the rest of the fret is used for various tids and bits. The main gear legs are metal, and there are two vac canopies (Thanks again Jules !).

Two decal options are supplied : a Sqn 263 sand and spinach bird, with a Sky/black belly, and a Mixed Grey/Dark green plane, with a Med Sea Grey underside used by Sqn 137.


Guess what ? I started with the cockpit ! I left the resin parts on their backing plate, and I painted the sidewalls, the rear bulkhead, the floor, seat, stick, rudder pedals Testor's British Interior Green. The seat cushion was painted Gunze Red Brown. The typically British spade grip is black, as is the instrument panel, throttle blocks, radios and the small side consoles. The gun sight, in black too, stared in the box, waiting for a better suited moment.

I assembled the belts (try and avoid coffee in the 42 days before doing that, it's better for everybody in a very respectable radius), and painted them buff with silver buckles. The belts went very nicely down on the seat which fits perfectly on the rear bulkhead. The various dials and blocks got drybrushed with white, before getting glued to the sidewalls. As the instructions are not very clear, I had to improvise here and there. Oh, by the way, separating the resin parts from their plate is really very entertaining.

The radio equipment cradle is painted interior green, folded, then glued against the bulkhead. It might seem wise making a couple of supports from resin for the cradle. The radios are glued in place. I drybrushed the instrument panel with white, and highlighted it with a couple of dabs of yellow and red.

I separated the fuselage halves from their sprue, cleaned the flash and the very thick attachment point, and painted the interior. This is a typical Tamigawa habit, and 1 really should have known better ! I had to remove a respectable amount of styrene for the cockpit to fit inside the fuselage. The fuselage is really paper thin at instrument panel level now.
Anyway, after sanding, dry fitting, sanding again a couple of hours, I polished the interior with steel wool and painted the interior again. I painted the rear gear bulkhead, worked on it some time with a file, and glued it in place.

I positioned the resin side walls with double face adhesive tape and marked their position. I glued the instrument panel on one side, the side walls on both, breathed deeply, and joined the fuselage halves. It went rather smoothly : there was a 3mm gap between the fuselage halves above the instrument panel, holes about everywhere, but nothing really serious. The rear cockpit bulkhead fits really nicely behind the sidewalls, and the floor gets glued under those without any enthusiasm. There are interesting holes between the walls and the floor, but as nothing can be seen from above, I didn't insist.

I installed the tailplane, and had to use a lot of persuasion and a file to get it perfectly horizontal.
I started working on the wings : I thinned the interior, painted it Interior Green, painted the radiators black, folded them and glued them in place. The wings went together without too many fuss, only the external parts left a very visible joint under the wings. The underside was painted Interior green where the engine nacelles go. These go together very easily, but refused to fit with the wings. I had to go after them with a file.

I puttied all the joint lines, trying to be less messy than usual, as I didn't want to destroy the delicate panel lines. It took me trhee sessions of puttying/sanding/painting (for checking the result of the sanding) to get a satisfying surface state. I separated one cannon from its support and used it as a guide to have an accurate idea of the holes I had to drill. The holes are about 2.5mm wide ! I scribed the lines I had destroyed, then gave the whole model a fine steel wool polishing.

I separated the canopy from its plate. I thanked earlier Jules for providing two copies of it, and I was right : I broke one, but the other survived. I futured the canopy, masked it, and adjusted it to the fuselage. I glued it using Klearfix, and off I went to the paint shop.


I chose the Sqn 263 bird because I liked the two colour belly. I began with spraying the canopy with British Interior Green, before pre-sanding the model using Tamiya NATO black. 1 painted the belly and the fuselage just before the rudder Gunze Sky. I masked the fuselage band and the fuselage sides, and gave the model a coat of Gunze Dark Earth.

As this is a British aircraft, I had to make some masks for the camouflage. That's what I dislike most when doing Brit birds : getting the masks ready is longer than painting the whole model ! Once I had installed the masks, I pre shaded again the unmasked parts and shot a Dark Green coat. The mandatory catastrophe occurred when I removed the masks : with them went some paint (OK, OK, happens to everybody ... ), some putty (the air around the table went an interesting shad of purple right then), and the fuselage joint cracked just in front of the wind shield.

I was contemplating finishing the model with a hammer when Tom Cleaver, who had been there, done that and got the t-shirt told me the way to go : you fill the crack with CA glue, and sand the excess before it is fully cured. Some steel wool polishing helped too, and a final coat of Dark Earth solved the problem.

I protected the left under side, the engine nacelle flanks, and painted the left wing NATO black.
Once the paint was cured, I futured the model and decaled it. The decals are nice, and react well to AeroSol. I gave the model another coat of Future, and once it was dry, I sprayed a coat of Aeromaster Flat Clear. I weathered lightly my model using dry pastel powder before spraying a final coat of Flat Clear.


I removed the canopy and installed the gun sight, with its reflector glass. I cut the canopy to display it open. The gear legs are very nice, but too wide : the wheels float between them. I had to fuile the legs from the interior. The wheels have a thick base and need some sanding there, but nothing major.  
The gear doors are thick, and need a serious thinning. The interior is British Interior Green, and the exterior has the wing underside colour. The antenna is made using 1/10 mm fishing line. The cannons are painted Metal Black on their backing plate before being sawed away and glued in the holes I had made in the pose.

The propeller blades are painted yellow, the tips masked, and a black coat is sprayed. The spinners are Sky, and the blades are cyanoed in their holes, with great care taken to their pitch and alignment. If you want to know how they should go, take a look at a Merlin Spitfire, the prop spins the same way.


This is the second time I risk myself in the short-run model netherworld. There's work to do. A lot. But I insist on that : there's nothing a very average modeler can't do ! Anyway, this machine has killer looks, and I really like this model.

As the probability any shake-n-bake model company releases a Whirlwind is a bit lower than zero, if you like the beast (and if you can get your sweaty paws on a copy) go for it ! And never forget to thank Jules for taking the risk of releasing that kind of stuff.

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