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Westland Whirlwind F Mk.I “Cannon Fighter” (SH32047) 1:32


Mike
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Westland Whirlwind F Mk.I “Cannon Fighter” (SH32047)

1:32 Special Hobby

 

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The Whirlwind came about due to the Air Ministry’s concerns about fighters armed with rifle-calibre machine guns not being able to inflict enough damage on enemy aircraft as airspeed increased, leaving only fractions of a second to put enough rounds downrange before they were past the target.  A number of designs were proposed, some based upon development of existing airframes, but Westland had put a great deal of work into what was to become the Whirlwind already, and with twin engines, excellent all-round vision for the pilot and the concentration of four 20mm cannons in the nose, it soon became a favourite, and an initial order of 400 was made.  Unfortunately, it was to use the Rolls-Royce Peregrine engine, which was subject to protracted problems that led to serious delays bringing it into service that kept the initial batch from the front until it had become less of an impressive aircraft when compared to its contemporaries such as the cannon-armed Spitfires and Beaufighter.

 

There were conflicting opinions of the type from various parties, some calling it disappointing, others finding it to be a highly capable aircraft.  The pilots that flew Whirlwinds regularly were generally impressed, and appreciated its ruggedness, the “spare” engine that made it more likely you’d get home if one was damaged, and the heavy firepower it possessed without the need for setting convergence as with many other aircraft.  Emergency landings were also relatively safe (as far as they go), thanks to the low wing mounting and the fact that the engine nacelles acted as skids, preventing the nose from digging in and going over.  Because of the delays only three squadrons flew the type, and it remained in service until 1943 in a relatively unmodified form, apart from the wiring closed of the leading-edge slats that weren’t much use and became a liability if they malfunctioned.  It was mostly used for “Rhubarb” forays into occupied Europe and as a ground-attack fighter, where it performed well in terms of destructive capabilities, and thanks to the low-level capabilities of the Peregrine engines it could hold its own against the Bf.109s of the time, but once the Peregrine was cancelled it was decided to end development, as retro-fitting Merlins was considered to be too difficult, and the wings also had issues that would need to be resolved in a hypothetical future version.

 

 

The Kit

This is a brand-new tooling from Special Hobby, and should have the 1:32 modellers jumping for joy that they don’t have to tackle the vacformed kit that was the only choice beforehand.  It arrives in a good-sized box, and inside are nine sprues in grey styrene, one in clear, a long decal sheet and a glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the rear pages.  I’ve always had a soft-spot for the Whirlwind after building the little Airfix kit in my youth, and depicting it crash-landed on a diorama base with some cotton-wool smoke coming from one of the engines.  I digress.  Quite frequently, actually.  Looking at the sprues in the box, detail is good throughout with a set of engraved panel lines, rivets and other recessed and raised details, including the inside of the fuselage, gear bays and engine nacelles.  The wings seem to have a slightly more exaggerated look to their panel lines when compared to the fuselage, but this should tone down under a few coats of paint.

 

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Construction begins with the cockpit, starting with the frames behind the pilot with the turtle-deck set between them and a pair of flare-chute tubes set diagonally in the lower portion.  The instrument panel is engraved with fine detail, and you get two – one for the earliest airframes, another for later aircraft.  Both have decals for the instrument dials, according to your choice of subject.  The side consoles are set diagonally in the cockpit walls, with additional parts added along the way and more attached directly to the sidewalls, including throttle quadrants, control levers and trim-wheel.  The cockpit is without floor and seat so far, which is corrected by creating the base from two sections and adding braces, foot-plates, rudder assembly and control linkages, plus a couple of detail parts.  This is later inserted into the upper wing, after the creation of the two radiator trunks that lead through the inner wings, having three sections of spar-work visible front and rear, plus two radiator surfaces that resemble four circular speakers from a ghetto-blaster (remember those?).  The upper wing also accepts the inner walls, while the lower includes the outer walls, and a section of outlet trunking toward the rear.  Once these are completed, the full-width wing can be closed up and work begun on the engine nacelles.

 

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Each nacelle is made up from two halves, which trap the front and rear bulkheads in place after adding a few detail parts to complete the area.  The nacelles are attached to the underside of the wings, and capped at the front with a pair of discs, with the exhausts fitted on each side of the nacelle fronts.  The fuselage is closed up around the cockpit, and the perforated tail gear bay is fitted into the rear before applying glue.  Before the wings are joined, the cockpit floor is glued into the recess, then the two rudder sections are assembled and inserted into the rear, deflected as you see fit.  The elevators and their fins are made up from their respective halves, then inserted into the slots in the fairing behind the “acorn”.  The inner wing radiator flaps are also put into position at this stage too.

 

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My Whirlwind has no nose.  How does is smell?  Plasticky, for the most part, with a hint of glue – just don’t sniff it too much or you’ll get dizzy.  The nose cone has four holes moulded-in, and has a rear bulkhead that the twin 20mm Oerlikon cannon barrels fit into, sliding through the nose cone before it is glued into position on the fuselage.  The gun-camera and spent casing collector fairings are installed under the nose after being built from two parts each, then it’s time to start on the landing gear, beginning at the rear.  The tail-wheel is in two halves, as is the strut, with the other half of the yoke separated to ease installation of the wheel, and the completed assembly is inserted into the socket in the bay roof, as illustrated in the cut-away drawing.  Its bay doors attach to the sides, and are linked to the strut with short retraction jacks to add a little extra realism.  The main gear resembles the Mossie, with two main struts either side of the wheel, bracing and retraction jacks, with the two-part wheel that has a little sag moulded into the bottom.  It slots in place thanks to a pair of pegs that glue to the front of the legs, then the bay doors are fitted with retraction jacks in a similar manner to the tail wheel.

 

The cockpit isn’t finished yet, as it is missing the seat and control column.  The seat pan comprises three parts, to which the back cushion and armour panel are added, with the adjuster and cross-brace fitted at the right and rear, respectively.  The column is complete apart from the pivot at the bottom, and these two assemblies are inserted into the model, aided by another cut-away drawing with red accents.  The Whirlwind was one of the first bubble canopies that afforded the pilot an excellent view, and this is supplied as separate canopy and windscreen.  The canopy has three internal parts inserted into the rear, which you’ll need to choose a sensible glue to attach them without fogging.  The windscreen has a portion of the fuselage moulded into it to make fairing it in a doddle.  The gunsight and a rear brace are glued in first, then the two clear parts are installed, with the canopy able to be posed open or closed.  Check your references to ensure you fit it at the correct angle, as the rear should stand clear of the fuselage.  The crew ladder slots into a hole in the lower port fuselage, and you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s a resin figure coming soon to pop on there for an “in-action” diorama.    A rear-view mirror is attached to the top of the windscreen and an aerial mast and bead sight are inserted into their positions in front of the canopy.  The wings are finished off with two navigation lights at the tips, landing lights under both wings, and two little flap-track fairings at the outboard end of the flaps.  Another clear light is inserted above the acorn on the tail with the L-shaped heated pitot-head at the top.

 

The twin props are made from some nicely detailed parts that sadly won’t be seen unless you depict your model in a maintenance situation.  The perforated back plate accepts the two-part boss with individual blades inserted between the halves, then a further three parts install in front before the spinner is glued over the assembly.  This is done twice of course.

 

Markings

There are a generous four decal options included on the sheet from early green/brown camo and the sky and black underside panels, to the later grey/green scheme with grey underside that is my own favourite.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • P6985 HE-J No.263 Sqn RAF, Exeter, March 1941
  • P7061 HE-A No.263 Sqn RAF, Charmy Down, Sept 1941
  • P7118 HE-F “Bellows Argentina No.2”, No.263 Sqn RAF, Colerne, Winter 1941/2
  • P7081 HE-E “Bellows Argentina No.3”, No.263 Sqn RAF, Charmy Down, Oct 1941

 

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

Extras Coming Soon

Special Hobby and their CMK brand have a bunch of forthcoming aftermarket parts to improve the level of detail even further from stock, in the shape of the following sets:

 

Q32395 Gun Barrels

F32373  Pilot Climbing Ladder

5135      Wheels

5136      Nose Gun Bay

M32002 Canopy Masks

 

We’ve already got the masks in for review, and will post them all up just as soon as we can.

 

Conclusion

There should be some very happy large scale model makers with this new tool reaching the shelves of your favourite model shop.  It’s an under-appreciated aircraft, and I think it looks good.  Whether it was the right decision to withdraw it from service rather than re-engineer it, we’ll never truly know.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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12 minutes ago, Mjwomack said:

I don't model in this scale, I rarely model aircraft, even more rarely military ones. But I want one! Might be the one for the not my comfort zone GB proposal

If the urge takes you, I'm sure Special Hobby would be glad of the extra sale ;)

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Nice review Mike, I've been waiting for years for someone to make one in 1/32 scale, hopefully one is winging it's way from Hannants as we speak.

 

Cheers

 

Den

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Assume they will release a Hi Tech version later, as per the Tempest, with the extras included and later style markings for 137 squadron?

 

Might end up with two of them! 😂

 

Mike

Edited by mick b
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Hi

    Mine just arrived in vancouver bc 

 

      Looks like it will be the first of at least two 

      one cannon fighter

      one fighter bomber 

 

       probably in the markings of the two aircraft crash sites i visited in the 70's 

 

         cheers

             jerry 

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Just ordered mine after patiently waiting for a couple of years or more. It's great to see that tge fairings on the lower cannons is present and the windscreen joint is on the panel line foward of it, making for an easier and tidier joint. Really looking forward to this kit.

Wahoo.

Thanks for the review Mike

Chris

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Thanks Mike,

 

What a fantastic aircraft for its time.

He's done reasonably well despite the limited number of aircraft in service in a limited timeframe, even against FW 190.

I've always wondered why it was not used as a night intruder.

It would have certainly been a killer at night above Brittany and Normandy airfields.

I just got to get myself one.

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13 hours ago, Antoine said:

.....

I've always wondered why it was not used as a night intruder.

.......

Hi

    Some night intruder missions were done

     137 Sqn even modified the blind flying panel instrument layout for better night flying 

      cheers

         jerry 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had this on pre order for a little while and has just now hit our shores, its moved up to the top tof my queue once i have finished the Border late A6 Leopard and the Tamiya MK II Swordfish. 👍 🖖

Edited by DBE1965
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