Author:

Richard A Franks

Publisher/Distributor

Valiant Wings Publishing

Price

19.95 MSRP at www.valiant-wings.co.uk

Reviewer:

Scott Van Aken

Notes: 98 pages, A4 Format, softcover, ISBN: 978-0-912932221, Airframe Album #4

The next edition of Valiant Wings' Airframe Album series is a second edition of an earlier relese. Valiant Wings will update current or previous books on a subject when more information has been provided them and it seems like a good time to do so. In this case, it was the release of the Special Hobby 1/32 kit.

This was an aircraft that many consider one of the nicest looking WWII planes and an aircraft that ran into several issues during its development and service. Designed to a specification requiring a day/night fighter, the Westland entry was the winner over entries from Hawker and Bristol to name a couple. What emerged was a very sleek twin engine fighter with a slim fuselage and powered by a pair of Rolls Royce Peregrine engines. The Peregrine was a development of the venerable Kestrel and as such was about as far as that design could be stretched. This meant that if the aircraft needed more power, it wasn't going to get it from the Peregrine. Add to it the usual teething problems of a new engine and the Whirlwind had a strike against it already.

The aircraft was originally designed with twin tails, but it was discovered that engine wash would interfere so the horizontal stab was placed about 2/3rds up a standard fin. All of this caused some delay and while the prototypes were in the air before the war, once the war started, the Whirlwind was not high on the priority list as it was untried. Instead, the push was for Hurricanes and Spitfires so it was not until the end of the Battle of Britain that more effort was put into aircraft.

By this time, it was realized that the Whirlwind was not going to be better than what was already in production, thanks to the engines as much as anything, and since valuable production regarding the Merlin was not going to be extended to the Whirlwind, part of the contract was cancelled. Still enough were produced to fully equip two squadrons and though dog-fighting was not its forte, its powerful 20mm armament meant that it would be useful as a fighter bomber so the aircraft were modified with the inclusion of bomb racks.

The type soldiered on through 1942 and 1943 before being replaced by newer types. Most were scrapped before the war's end, but one soldiered on as a Westland test aircraft until the late 1940s when it was also disposed of, leaving no extant aircraft for museums.

The book opens up with a nice history on the the development of the Whirlwind that includes the usual section on production history as well as a nice set of specifications of the major variants; including prototypes. We then go into a Technical description of the aircraft that is divided into segments such as Fuselage, Undercarriage, Engine, Wings and so on. Each one of these sections has drawings from the tech manuals, as well as period photos.

Next major section is on the evolution of the Aircraft. This includes art work on Prototype, Production, and Planned variants. Here we get to see the changes made to the aircraft from the initial prototype on through the production run and even into versions that did not go past the test phase.

A section I particularly enjoyed was that of camouflage and markings. This is one that is probably to be well sourced by modelers. The Whirlwind went through an amazing number of changes in markings and as you might imagine, even when things were 'standardized', there were differences.

This is followed by an list that provides a brief history of every single airframe, including its eventual demise. The last section includes a listing of kits, decals, accessories and book references for the Whirlwind. New to this edition is a full build article on the Special Hobby 1/32 kit as well as 1/48 scale plans.

In all, it is another superb effort from Valiant Wings and a book that easily gets my highest recommendation. It is an absolute must for those who are planning on building one of the various kits. I would guess that this one will sell out rather quickly so best to get in your order while it is still available.

September 2021

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Thanks to www.valiant-wings.co.uk for the review copy. You can get yours now at this link.

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