The Westland Whirlwind

By Bob Pearson

Britain's entry in the heavily-armed twin engined fighter sweepstakes was the Westland Whirlwind. Unfortunately Inadequate engines lead to the Whirlwind only being used by two squadrons of the RAF, Nos. 137 and 263, and by December 1943 the Whirlwind was withdrawn from service.

According to Michael Bowyer in 'Fighting Colours' . . . " One of the new types which came into its own in 1941 was the Westland Whirlwind . . . Unlike other fighters they had pale blue (not duck egg green) and black undersurfaces. One Whirlwind was recorded with all-blue undersurfaces as late as June 22 1941, P6997 being the machine. HE-H wears black undersurfaces to the port wing, and has sky spinners and fuselage band".

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Westland Whirlwind Mk.I P6995
No.263 Sqn RAF
November 1940-April 1941

Again Michael Bowyer . . . " February 18, 1941 brought a revision. The black under surface was now to be removed, except on Whirlwinds which retained their unusual rich blue and black finish for many months for 'recognition' purposes."

Conversations with Chris Banyai-Riepl and Will Riepl have led us to the conclusion that the blue mentioned is actually a form of Duck Egg Blue, which at the time that Bowyer recorded his observations of Whirlwinds was significantly different from the Duck Egg Green on other aircraft .. he also specifically mentions in his notes that the band and spinner colour was different from the bottom colour.

HE-J shows the above markings, as well as the original green/brown camouflage.

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Westland Whirlwind Mk.I P6969
No.263 Sqn RAF
April-August 1941

HE-V is seen here in green/brown with sky (Duck Egg Green). Note the original location of the antennae, as well as the unique presentation of the fin-flash.

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Westland Whirlwind Mk.I P7116
No.263 Sqn RAF
August 1941 - May 1942

In August 1941 the Whirlwinds had their Brown upperworks replaced with Sea Grey, while the lower was now in Medium Sea Grey. Many Whirlwinds were presentation aircraft and P7116 was one of these, being named 'Bellows Argentina No.2'. Other markings shown are the Squadron Commander's pennant and a lucky cloverleaf. The tail fairing is shown in black and white, however I have also seen it described as red/white.

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Westland Whirlwind Mk.I P7062
No.263 Sqn RAF
Late 1943

Another interesting design on the tail fairing of this aircraft from No.263 Sqn.

The other Whirlwind squadron was No.13, two examples follow.

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Westland Whirlwind Mk.I P7116
No.137 Sqn RAF
May 1942 - June 1943

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Westland Whirlwind Mk.I P7116
No.137 Sqn RAF
Mid 1943


References:

- FIGHTING COLOURS - RAF FIGHTER CAMOUFLAGE 1937-1975: Bowyer, MJF; Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1975
- Various articles and photos from the files of Dave Fletcher, Chris Banyai-Riepl, Will Riepl and Shane Jenkins

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