A Conversation for Westland Whirlwind - World War II Aircraft

Westland 'Welkin'

Post 1

BigAl Patron Saint of Left Handers Keeper of the Glowing Pickle and Monobrows

Hi Matt,

There was an 'Answers to Correspondents' concerning the Whirlwind, in the Daily Mail (UK) this week.

The original Q cocerned its service record, but the answer complements what you say in your Entry.

According to the Correspondent, the Air Ministry had refused to countenance a Merlin-powered Whirlwind and, shortly afterwards, the Germans began some very high level nuisance bombing and recce missions. Specially modified Sp-itfires and Mosquitos could only just manage to intercept these and, apparently, "flying these beasts with forced-breathing masks was a near death experience,m even if combat didn't occur."

Vickers and Westland were asked to submit, as a matter of urgency, designs for a proper high-altitude interceptor. This competition was won by Westland with a Merlin-powered derivative of the Whirlwind known as the Welkin.
This had a very long wingspan, not unlike the Lockheed U2 spyplane (you didnt mention this in your Entry), with a pressurised cockpit. The pilot still needed an oxygen mask, though, as it pressurised to around 25000 ft altitude equivalent when flying at its operational ceiling of 44000 ft.
As with the Whirlwind, the Welkin had four 20mm cannon in the nose.

More than 70 Welkins were built but the Germans, not realising that the Spitfires were only just able to intercept the raiders, desisted before they were used. The Welkins seem to have been stored rather than risk their capture by either the Germans or our Soviet allies, thus giving them clues to the design of high-altitude aircraft.
Much of the lessons learned from the Welkin gae Teddy Potter many ideas which were incorporated into the Canberra bomber, thus ensuring that it had none of the hi=gh speed handling problems encountered by the Welkin.


Westland 'Welkin'

Post 2

U168592

That's really intriguing information! Thanks Al smiley - smiley I think I might see what more I can find out about this Welkin smiley - ta


Westland 'Welkin'

Post 3

U168592

Crikey! It's huge! smiley - laugh

In comparision to the Whirlwind anyway. Looks a lot more like a Mosquito with extra long wings. Interesting stuff about the pressurised cabin.

Seems Petter steered clear of long wings for the future though! The Lightning and Canberra are VERY different looking machines smiley - smiley


Westland 'Welkin'

Post 4

BigAl Patron Saint of Left Handers Keeper of the Glowing Pickle and Monobrows

Yes, I should've completed what the Correspoondent to the D.Mail (Matthew Spencer) said:

"...post-war Canberra bomber had none of the high-speed handling problems of the Welkin, largely by making the wings relatively short and broad, rather than very wide.
ThU2, which resembles the Welkin rather more, suffered from the same narrow nband of workable flying speeds at height and was considered quite dangerous in sharp turns at extreme altitudes.
The correspondent says that he would not be surprised if Gary Powers had stalled while avoiding Soviet missiles, rather than having been shot down. smiley - smiley


Westland 'Welkin'

Post 5

U168592

smiley - laugh

Poor Garry. First he was a double agent, then he was a rubbish pilot that let himself get shot down, and in the end it was just the fact the U2 was a flying brick smiley - rofl


Westland 'Welkin'

Post 6

BigAl Patron Saint of Left Handers Keeper of the Glowing Pickle and Monobrows

smiley - laugh


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Westland 'Welkin'

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