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View Full Version : why did the whirlwind fail?... did it?



biggs222
08-04-2006, 02:35 PM
whats the story about this plane... it seemed like a great idea at the time a light twin engine cannon armed fighter... what happened?

biggs222
08-04-2006, 02:35 PM
whats the story about this plane... it seemed like a great idea at the time a light twin engine cannon armed fighter... what happened?

HellToupee
08-04-2006, 03:00 PM
it didnt have long range, one of the points of a twin engine fighter vs single, it cost more than a spit, its chosen engine was dropped by RR and other 4 cannon armed fighters came onto the scene.

Badsight-
08-04-2006, 03:58 PM
it was too many new concepts into one plane - that caused too many problems in development

that & the engines let it down , should have been designed for Merlins from the start & it could have made it to production status of some kind

Aeroplane magazine did a fastastic coverage of the Whirly a while back

Kocur_
08-04-2006, 04:19 PM
And since Peregrines were nothing more than upgraded Kestrels... Well there wasnt much future ahead in 21 litres! They werent replaced with Merlins also for technical reasons: Peregrine weighted about 450kg and installing heavier Merlins required an airframe redesign if the same stress limit (gs) was to be maintained.

WWMaxGunz
08-04-2006, 04:23 PM
What, you never saw the late 45 and 46 models?

Maybe because they never were....

ARCHIE_CALVERT
08-04-2006, 04:46 PM
Whirlwinds

Originally designed as Britain‚‚ā¨ôs first canon fighter, a contract was given to Westlands as a bonus for their Lysander aircraft‚‚ā¨¬¶

Further on, but still in the early pre prototype stage, it was decided that the Hurricane and eventually the Spitfire could be made to carry 20mm canon without the use of another engine, the project was nearly shut down then‚‚ā¨¬¶ But it was saved by an idea that it could be a fast PR aircraft. Westlands was asked to extend the Whirlwinds range‚‚ā¨¬¶ While this was going on it was calculated that the Peregrines would be somewhat out of breath above 15.000 feet and downright knackered at 30.000 as a consequence the order for 18 PR Whirlwinds and 4 spare airframes was again in doubt!

But as production at Westlands and Rolls-Royce for tooling of said Whirly and Peregrines was at such an advance stage, a cancellation at this point would mean the factories being idle, until tooling could be made for other a/c. The Air Ministry then decided to allow the production of 114 Whirlwind to save having to waste the materials and tooling of both airframe and available engines‚‚ā¨¬¶

Balls up from start to finish‚‚ā¨¬¶ Also because of it small size it was to light an airframe to allow it to develop much further. Putting Merlins in would mean redesigning the wing, resulting in more wing area, more weight, less speed‚‚ā¨¬¶ No improvement‚‚ā¨¬¶

So, the Whirlwind only came to be produced as it would be deemed to much of a waste to scrap it outright..

Waldo.Pepper
08-04-2006, 05:35 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">to light an airframe to allow it to develop much further. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
and Bingo was his nameo.

ImpStarDuece
08-04-2006, 07:32 PM
Well, there were development plans for the Whirly

Namely the Whirlwind MK II,

Differences would of been:

1,010 hp Peregrins using 100 Octane fuel.
New Rotol propellors
Cross feed fuel tanks
Extra 60 gallons of fuel in nose and rear fuselage tanks, extending range to 900 miles (compared to 475 for the Spitifre V, 550 for the Hurricane, 600 miles for the Typhoon and 1150-1550 for the Beaufighter)

Estimated performance was 420 mph at 16,000 feet, which I feel is more than a little generous, but certainly 395-405 mph + wasn't out of the question. With the new props and an extra 15% power, the Whirlwind could of certainly been a low level fight bomber par excellence.

Part of the problem with the Whirly was that the Peregrine was an updraft engine and the Merlin a downdraft, so the wing structure would have had to of been completely redone to accomodate the Merlin, besides it being larger and heavier.

darkhorizon11
08-05-2006, 12:23 AM
What was its combat performance? I've only heard of one encounter over the North Sea? They claimed one or two 109s for the loss of five or six Whirlwinds?

Besides that I've never seen much about it, I know they did see some service.

Xiolablu3
08-05-2006, 12:28 AM
It was underpowered and Rolls Royce discontinued the engine which was being used for it.

Someone posted a great article about the failure of the whirlwind not too long ago.

Maybe they can post it again.

It was called 'The Cannon Fighter' or something similar.

Here you go, big thanks to MrBlueSky for the originsal scans

http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/23110283/m/966...661079654#9661079654 (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/23110283/m/9661079654?r=9661079654#9661079654)

The article seems to indicate that it was the death of the Rolls Royce Peregrine which sealed the Whirlwinds fate. Plus, if a Spitfire or Hurricane can carry 4x20mm cannon, then is there really any need for a twin engined, less manouvrable, more expensive 'cannon fighter'?

You would think that during the Battle of Britain, Britain would have said , 'to hell with it, produce as many as you can, we need fighter planes!' rather than keeping Westland hanging on a thread and producing Lysanders, which were no use as fighters, and only really good for short landing dropping off resistance and picking them up. Not terribly useful during the Battle of Britain.

I cannot see the twin engined whirlwind doing too well versus the Bf109's, although it would probably make a good bomber destroyer.

Xiolablu3
08-05-2006, 12:48 AM
Some good pages from a book detailing a Whirlwind Operation.

http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/23110283/m/38010583?r=42110583

Adolf Galland reports in 'The first and the Last' that a Whirlwind was shot down during the channel dash by the Kreigsmarine in 1942.

Channel Dash - A daring and brave dash up the English channel by the Kreigsmarine, right under the noses of the much larger Royal Navy, which caused numerous losses to the RAF planes which tried to attack the ships.

Aaron_GT
08-05-2006, 02:41 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">It was underpowered and Rolls Royce discontinued the engine which was being used for it. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Only really above 15,000 ft. At low levels it was the fastest fighter the RAF had in 1941.

In the end it was, in a sense, adapted for the Merlin in the form of the Welkin high altitude fighter. But the need for a high altitude fighter for UK defence vanished as German high altitude attacks were no more than a nuisance that did not need a new type (Mosquitos were adapted) and the RAF did not need a high altitude, long range day escort plane after the USAAF took over the day bombing role.

Westland was unlucky as well.

Mind you, most of their other WW2 designs were pretty wacky Libellula efforts.

Kernow
08-05-2006, 03:44 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by ARCHIE_CALVERT:
Whirlwinds

... a contract was given to Westlands as a bonus for their Lysander aircraft‚‚ā¨¬¶
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yea, giving Westlands work just for the hell of it still seems a govt hobby.

If you want 60-odd Apaches do you:

a. Spend ‚£2.5 billion setting up a production line at Westlands (creating 750 or so jobs for 3 years according to MOD) or,

b. Just buy them off the shelf from Boeing, like the Israelis did at the same time, for about ‚£12 million each and give 750 random jobless people a million each (enough to set them up for life not just a few years, surely?), AND save yerself a cool BILLION.

Well obviously it's a. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Aaron_GT wrote:

Westland was unlucky as well. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

But not now http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif Not only is there a DTI to look after British industry but most of the MOD's budget goes on supporting British workers too.

WWMaxGunz
08-05-2006, 06:05 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Xiolablu3:
You would think that during the Battle of Britain, Britain would have said , 'to hell with it, produce as many as you can, we need fighter planes!'

I cannot see the twin engined whirlwind doing too well versus the Bf109's, although it would probably make a good bomber destroyer. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

During the BoB, England wasn't in a spot replacing planes. They were in trouble with inability
to replace pilots. That was what finally got them to change their attitude towards foreign
pilots after the Poles demonstrated capability well beyond average.

How would the Whirlwinds have done up at the alts the He-111's were running with escorts?

The #1 problem with all the twins is view. Those nacelles cannot be looked around. Same with
P-38 and Me-110. It cuts your SA. If you are always aligned for offense then fine but that
is not a given. #2 problem is starting your rolls is always slower, twins just are not as
nimble as a single engine prop fighter could be.

ImpStarDuece
08-05-2006, 07:52 AM
Actually, the Whirlwind had excellent visibility comapared to the Hurricane and Spitfire.

The shortish, sloping nose, low mounted wing, high pilots position and 'semi-bubble' type canopy all combined to give the best 'view from the office' of any Allied fighter until the bubble top Typhoons arrived. The nacells on the Whirly weren't really that much of an issue, certainly not compared to most other twins.

The only other fighter in the same class in terms of all around visability was the FW-190. If you have any pictures of Whilwinds being flown, you can see well below the pilot's shoulders to about 1/2 way down his upper arm, giving excellent sighting and search view.

ARCHIE_CALVERT
08-05-2006, 07:57 AM
Perhaps this will show you how close it was to not being built at all...

As for the PR Whirlwind it does have a certain significance even thought it was not built (or, more accurately, not flown). The significance is that initially it was the PR proposal that saved the Whirlwind when the whole programme was cancelled in early October 39 in that CAS wanted a few (2-4) handbuilt Whirlwinds for the PR role, partly to avoid putting distracting work into the Supermarine experimental shops to hand-modify Spitfires and partly because Dowding objected to having his Spitfire resources "trenched upon for any purpose other than fighting". The number of PR Whirlwinds required rose over the next few weeks to a total of 18 (4 of which were to be delivered sans engines and another 4 in component form to provide spares for the life of the aircraft). Two configurations were discussed: one with no armament but extra fuel and the second (as you've noticed) with a fixed, spatted undercarriage with even more fuel in what had previously been the wheel wells. There was at this point no real hard data on the aircraft's performance (since A&AEE had still not done any performance measurements on the aircraft - largely because it was engineless for a lot of the time it was at Boscombe Down) and it was only when Peck (DD Ops and Intel) was told that with the extra fuel load the PR Whirlwind was unlikely to have a ceiling above 28,000 ft that he said thanks but no thanks (in March 1940).

By that time Mensforth, MD of Westland, had explained (in December, 39) that part finished components (major extrusions, castings etc) for around 100 aircraft had already been completed. Rolls also had the major forgings and castings in hand for several hundred Peregrines. Accordingly an order for 114 aircraft was reinstated, these to be a mix of PR and fighter variants. As late as March 29, 1940 (i.e. less than 2 months before they flew) the first two production airframes were being laid down as prototypes for the recce variant and Petter was coyly explaining to Fighter Command that they wouldn't get any aircraft until August as the early aircraft were to be used for "Special Purposes" - which gives you an idea of the level of security that surrounded everything to do with PR at the time.

In the end of course, after Peck had rejected the aircraft as a PR a/c on the grounds of its poor projected service ceiling the whole run was built as fighters.

And don't ask me to reveal my source either...

Aaron_GT
08-05-2006, 10:25 AM
Kernow: check your PMs.