Westland Whirlwind revisited

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Jan 23, 2015.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    An invitation to the discussion about the realistic limits of the design and plausible changes upgrades for it.
     
  2. rogerwilko

    rogerwilko Member

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    My favourite underdog plane. I don't mind revisiting. Apparently Merlins couldn't be fitted so that killed off performance improvements. I have never seen a clear concise reason why they couldn't be fitted though. Weight?
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Just a very major alteration either to the engine or the nacelle and undercarriage of the Whirlwind. The up draught carburettor of the Merlin needed space at the lower back of the nacelles occupied by the main undercarriage attachments. It was never deemed worth the effort.

    Around the same time it was pointed out that the Whirlwind would require two engines to lift four 20mm cannon, the same as the proposed "Hawker fighter" (which would become the Typhoon) could using one. The delays in the Typhoon production were not anticipated.

    The MAP also came up with figures showing that the Whirlwind required more than 50% more materiel than a Spitfire in its production. Combined with the Whirlwind and Westland's production and reliability problems (poor quality control, slats, tail wheel, armament, intake ducts, cockpit &c) this all made the decision to cancel the Whirlwind, whilst using up parts already made and Peregrines already at least partly assembled, in a limited run, fairly easy.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  4. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    I think the problem with adding RR Merlins to the Whirlwind would be you end up with what is pretty much the de Havilland Hornet
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Problem with adding Merlins is that Whirly was a rather small aircraft - wing area between Spitfire and Hurricane (granted, those were the biggest 1-engine fighters when introduced). If we end up with 'early Hornet', after substantial modifications are undertaken, that is not a problem, but contrary :)

    With a bit of imagination, the Typhoon/Tornado were using 'almost' 2 engines, namely one 24 cylinder engine per aircraft.

    Hmm - how much material it used, when compared with future 4-cannon fighter (Typhoon/Tornado)?
    While not without faults, the Whirly was a far better 4-cannon fighter than Hurricane, and 4-cannon Spitfire was never much loved.
    Not trying to start a fight with you, Steve, just asking :)
     
  6. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if the Merlin XX supercharger could have been adapted to the Peregrine, giving 2 speeds and, surely, a much higher FTH (in either gear).

    With a bit of development the Peregrine should be able to rev faster than the Merlin - 3200rpm or so.
     
  7. rogerwilko

    rogerwilko Member

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    I wonder if Eric Brown tested one? Wonder what he thought of them?
     
  8. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Here's a shot of Harald Penrose (chief pilot for Westland) climbing past a Lysander photo plane ...

    Random333.jpg
     
  9. rogerwilko

    rogerwilko Member

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  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #10 stona, Jan 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
    Tomo, no matter how you choose to spin it you will only ever count one engine on a Typhoon, just as the AM/MAP did :)

    The Typhoon was eventually a much better aeroplane than the Whirlwind and we have the benefit of hindsight not granted to those making the decisions in 1940. The Hawker fighter was expected sooner than it actually arrived.

    The men at the MAP actually under estimated the extra materiel required to build the Whirlwind compared to the Spitfire. I don't have the figures to hand at the moment as I'm in Metz and they are in Birmingham!

    When a bean counter gets the idea that something can be done more economically and to at least as good effect he is very hard to convince otherwise. Some things never change :)

    Nice picture Greg!
    Though I don't think the Whirlwind ever had a future, with or without the Peregrine engine after the axe fell successively I do think it was a good looking aeroplane. It wasn't the fighter the AM/RAF were looking for in 1940/41.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    #11 Shortround6, Jan 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
    The trouble with comparing a Whirlwind to a Typhoon is that you are comparing a plane pretty much frozen in 1940 to a 1942 airplane. A bit like comparing a MK I Spitfire to a MK V allowed to use 16lbs boost. (Lets forget about the two stage Merlin.)

    And 1942 Typhoons had a number of small problems (for now lets ignore the troubles with Sabre and the tails falling off) that often held speed down to 380-390mph.

    As far as one engine vs two, I guess it depends on who you talk to, the AM/MAP or the fitters who had change the total of 48 spark plugs on each plane :)
    Granted there were twice the number of prop hubs and other things that needed attention.

    The Whirlwind never got a MK II version (or even a Ia) so some things never got corrected. Likewise there was never a Peregrine II or a Ia or????

    Edit ( there may have been a MK II Peregrine but I don't know what the difference was, point is there was never an official uprating of the engine aside from perhaps a higher boost limit at low altitude)

    Typhoons went through Sabre IIs, IIAs and in 1944 IIBs and four bladed props.

    With hindsight one can say the perhaps the Sabre and Typhoon were a lot of wasted effort and that perhaps the Whirlwind should have been given a chance but in 1939/40 developing 21 liter engines was seen as a dead-end.
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The AM/RAF were looking for a 4-cannon fighter for quite a time, starting with that idea pre-war and ending after Korean war :) The Whirly was the 1st to offer that, among with Beaufighter of course. Hurricane IIC was a bit late in this (late 1941), and it was offering lower performance than Whirlwind.
    Too bad the AM/RAF were not thinking like this: lets pursue with Whirlwind even after we get a number of Typhoon/Tornado fighters, since those will replace the Hurricanes 1st? As far as bean counters - the aircraft are piloted by pilots. Putting a pilot in a lesser plane will not just have that pilot will more likely get killed, but it will not accomplish the mission.
    The bean counters have had no problems ordering paying for US-produced fighters, that in 1940-41 did not have anything above the Whirly, bar the combat radius for the P-40.
     
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  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The supercharger from the Merlin 45 should've also worked, resulting at power vs. altitude not far away from Merlin III?
     
  14. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    What the Whirlwind could have filled the one glaring gap the RAF had and that was a decent GA aircraft. Development and production should have progressed in that area. Development did to a degree but production didn't and when I think of the resources wasted on aircraft developments that went nowhere and were never going to go anywhere, It was a tragic wasted opportunity.
     
  15. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    I think that if you can increase the rpm then the power would probably be more than a III, somewhat closer to a 45.

    And it should have a higher FTH than the 45.
     
  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    If the RPM can reliably easlily go above 3000 rpm. I don't believe that Peregrine was that a bad engine, judging by it's long service, but neither was known as a rock-solid engine like Merlin. Granted, small pistons, with reasonably small stroke should allow for increase in RPM, like it was planed for the Vulture.

    Stick two radials and there it is? Two 2pdr canons in nose, plus some bombs/rockets.
    Deletion of buried coolers allows for double fuel tankage. As would relocation of the radiators in the chin position, for versions that retain V-12 power.
     
  17. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    It didn't even need the changes, just more production. More fuel to add to the range and the GA requirement is filled. This would give the RAF time to sort out the Typhoon and reduce the requirement to use the Hurricane in the GA role. Think of the advantage of the Whirlwind in the Middle and far east. The JAAF would have found the Whirlwind a real handful, just as it is.
     
  18. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Just skimming through the data, the Whirly should be besting the Oscar and early Zeros, and equal later Zeros, Ki 44s and Ki-61. That is without development, 1940 aircraft vs. second half of 1942 and on.

    Maybe someone could post some data how good/bad the Whirlwind fared vs. LW opposition?
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Westland's own Lysander for one. Aside from agent "dropping" which came late in it's life, it was a rather dismal failure in most of it's designed roles. Not that it was Westland's fault, most or all Air forces were over specifying the the short range recon, army "co-operation" aircraft at the time, German Hs 126, American O-47, a variety of french air-craft (including twins).
     
  20. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Channel Dash


    No. 137 Squadron's worst losses were to be on 12 February 1942 during the Channel Dash, when they were sent to escort five British destroyers, unaware of the escaping German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Four Whirlwinds took off at 13:10 hours, and soon sighted warships through the clouds about 20 miles from the Belgian coast. They descended to investigate and were immediately jumped by about 20 Bf 109s of Jagdgeschwader 2. The Whirlwinds shot at anything they got in their sights, but the battle was against odds. While this was going on, at 13:40 two additional Whirlwinds were sent up to relieve the first four, two more Whirlwinds took off at 14:25. Four of the eight Whirlwinds failed to return.
     

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