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  #1  
Old 8th February 2015, 21:53
bearoutwest bearoutwest is offline
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Recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter

Does anyone know if there are significant differences in the data covered between these two recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter?

a) Niall Corduroy's Whirlwind: Westland's Enigmatic Fighter
http://www.amazon.com/Whirlwind-West.../dp/1781550379

and
b) Robert Bowater's 263 and 137 Squadrons: The Whirlwind Years
http://www.amazon.com/263-137-Squadr.../dp/1781552452

Regards,
...geoff
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  #2  
Old 9th February 2015, 22:50
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Re: Recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter

Geoff

I’m biased, but ...

They’re very different books: “Westland’s enigmatic fighter” is more about the machine and Rob’s book more about the men. There’s considerable overlap in terms of the aircraft’s operational history, but “Westland’s enigmatic fighter” has more on the origins, development and cancellation of the programme while Rob’s book is truly encyclopaedic on the men who flew it.

Buy both. You know you want to:-)

Niall
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Old 10th February 2015, 02:03
bearoutwest bearoutwest is offline
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Re: Recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter

Hello Niall,

Thank you for the clarification. That's the impression I got from reading the snippets on Amazon. Actually, I WANT to buy every aircraft publication ever printed, but time, eyesight, finances and getting sumo-tackled by the almost 7yo dictate that I need to be more circumspect with my purchases.

Having said that, I did buy your "Westland's enigmatic fighter" over 18 months ago. I found it to be a thorough "historical-technical" assessment, and certainly filled in a lot of the gaps after Victor Bingham's work (published all those years ago). I will also go out and buy Rob's Bowater's work - based on what I was able to read on Amazon's preview and your comments.

Dare I ask for your oppinion (and possibly open a big can of worms):
- given that the Peregrine-Whirlwinds required an amount of refinement (opposite rotating props, belt fed cannons, cross-feed fuel systems, etc);
- also given that the high-altitude Welkins were probably in the concept-thinking stage in late-1941, and that any eventual "refined" Merlin-Whirlwinds would more-likely be closer to a slimmed down Welkin (looking like the DH Hornet in overall size perhaps).
Here's my question:
- if Westland's had been able to make their Whirlind production line methods more efficient; was the general RAF/Air Ministry thinking of the day, inclined towards a stop-gap Merlin re-engined Whirlind (Mk II?) and perhaps a refined low/medium altitude Welkin development?

Regards,
...geoff
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Old 30th January 2016, 17:51
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Re: Recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter

Niall and Geoff, thans foer the info!

Juha
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Old 16th February 2016, 03:47
bearoutwest bearoutwest is offline
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Re: Recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter

Hi Juha,
If you have an interest in the Whirlwind, you probably want both books. I managed to get a copy of the Bowater book recently and am about halfway through. As you would expect, there is a certain amount of crossover repeating of some information; but as discussed above, there is more technical/development detail in the Corduroy book, and a great deal more operational/pilot history in the Bowater book. Quite good companion volumes really.
...geoff
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Old 16th February 2016, 15:57
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Re: Recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter

Hello Geoff
thanks a lot for your opinions!
I have one extra question. I also have the old Bingham’s book plus the ORBs of 263 Sqn (Forms 540 and 541) plus numerous articles on Whirlwind in old Aeroplane Monthlies and Air Internationals etc. (we clearly are not the only ones who are interested in Whirry). IIRC at least in a couple of articles there are interviews of a S/L of 137 Sqn if they are not written by him. How much extra info on Whirry ops there is in Bowater’s book over the sources I already have? Corduroy's book seems to be an essential update to the old Bingham’s work.

TIA
Juha
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Old 17th February 2016, 08:06
bearoutwest bearoutwest is offline
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Re: Recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter

Hello Juha,

I’m not sure I can answer your question comprehensively, without going through in fine detail all the scraps of data that I have on each pilot or operation. (I don’t go into that level of detail, in any case, for my own interest.) Let me describe my own level of interest, and then give you my impression of what I’ve read in the new books; compared to what I remember of the older books/articles/etc.
Most recently, what interests me most about various aircraft is the engineering development …airframe, engine choices, armament, etc. However, this understanding of how an aircraft changed or improved, is incomplete without a reasonably detailed perspective of operational use.
What I find from these two new books, is that they are written from a compatible research timeline – i.e. from similar amounts of available data and within the same couple of years. Bingham’s book was the pinnacle of Whirlwind research of its time, but that was quite a few decades ago. The development history seems more updated and comprehensive in the Corduroy book (certainly – from memory – it discussed the background problems encountered at Westlands in greater depth). Compared to the Bingham book, the operation history seems to be dealt with in greater detail in the new Corduroy/Bowater books than the Bingham book – but you would expect that in respect to the larger number of pages in the new books.
The older Air International/ Flypast/ Aeroplane, etc magazine articles – about the aircraft in general would be very lightweight, but when dealing with individual pilots or aircraft losses do cover these incidences in much greater detail. I also remember a couple of SAMI or Scale Aviation Modeller articles about kit-building specific Whirlwinds, which had very good, detailed data on the history of an individual aircraft ….photos, profiles, etc. The Bowater book does cover the following pilots in individual chapters: Sgt Geoffrey Buckwell, F/Sgt George Wood, F/S Leonard Gray. There is also a potted history of each individual Whirlwind airframe, and a short bio of each Whirlwind pilot in 263 Sqn and 137 Sqn.
So, my overall impression is that these two new books form a good companion set, with a greater amount of detail than in the original Bingham book – and compiled with more recently available information. (As for the accuracy of this more recent data, ….well I don’t consider myself an expert on the Whirlwind, but there are no MAJOR errors that I would notice. The smaller errors would not be detected by me in any case.) I like the two new books, as they seem to fill in some gaps and answer some of my questions arising from my reading of the original Bingham book.
As for a comparison against the ORB forms 540 & 541 – can’t comment. From the ones that I have access to (none of the Whirlwind ones) and read or researched from – well they are only as accurate as the person recording it. They need to be read with a reasonable background knowledge anyway.
Hope that’s of some help. It’s always a difficult choice to buy a new book on a subject where you have already a wealth of data. My criteria is: a) is it a step change in available data compared to when the earlier book was prepared (in this case yes); b) is it more convenient to access than the 10+/20+/50+ etc magazine articles/research papers I already have (in my case, yes).
The only part that I thought could have done with a little more discussion is the projected development of a Merlin-engined Whirlwind Mk2 – perhaps as a short Appendix. What I find satisfying about discussion “what-ifs” is that if the discussion is framed appropriately, then ideas on what might have been, can often explain why things didn’t work out that way when compared to historical context – e.g. what was the reason that a longer range twin-Merlin airframe wasn’t developed by Westland several years ahead of the dH Hornet? Lack of confidence in Westland, lack of fore-sight in Air Ministry planning, greater expense in Merlin engines away from other necessary airframes ….etc?

Regards, …geoff
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Old 17th February 2016, 10:55
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Re: Recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter

Hello Geoff
and thanks a lot for your thoughts and the trouble to type them down! And I found them helpful.
I forgot to mention that I also have the memoirs of the Westland's chief test pilot, Harald Penrose, 'Adventure with Fate'. IMHO a very nice book with info on the top personalities of Westland Aircraft Ltd (incl. Teddy Petter), on inner working of the factory and on testing of many Westland a/c.
On Merlin Whirlwind, IMHO (I'm a historian without almost any technical background) Petter had made the design very tight so adding Merlins (the dry weight of a Merlin XII was 280 lb more than that of a Peregrine I plus extra fuel) would have been very difficult, maybe thinner and shorter wing Welkin would have been better design to begin.
On ORBs, maybe I'm a bit too cynical but IMHO too often the writers do not bother crosscheck the info they have gleaned out from ORBs/KTBen, combat reports etc. against records of the opponent of that era.

Again thanks a lot for your thoughts and trouble

Juha
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Old 17th February 2016, 15:24
bearoutwest bearoutwest is offline
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Re: Recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter

No worries Juha, always happy to talk aeroplanes.

A few years ago when I lived on the other side of this continent in Melbourne, my local library had a copy of the Penrose biography. What struck me as I read it was how widely varied were the aircraft being designed at Westland during the late 1930s/early 1940s. Over a relatively short span of 3-4 years, Penrose was flying the Wapiti as a hack, demonstrating the Lysander, and test flying (or demonstrating) the Whirlwind and the Pterydactyl.

As for the Merlin-Whirlwind, I think (trusting my memory now) the Corduroy book intimates that Petter (or his development design team) were keen on redeveloping the wing and fuselage to suit a Merlin powerplant. This would have also included cross-feed tanks, and a whole host of other refinements. But somewhere along the track, this wasn't followed through with. The Welkin was being developed - but as a high altitude aircraft. Looking at line drawings and photos of the Welkin, it struck me as to how BIG it was. Almost a single seat Mosquito in size rather than a bigger Whirlwind or a dH Hornet. So a great deal of development work to trim it down, perhaps as much effort as to up-size a Peregrine-Whirlwind. Perhaps that was a big part of the reason to cancel any plans, together with a host of other factors. Anyway, food for thought for another time, place and discussion perhaps.

...geoff
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Old 17th February 2016, 17:05
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Re: Recent books on the Westland Whirlwind Fighter

Hello Geoff
I liked much the 'Adventure with Fate'. IMHO well written with much info, also on the working conditions etc. in a smallish struggling aircraft firm in late 20s and 30s. More work and responsibilities without pay rise, how hard one must fight even for some insurance cover (after all Penrose was well aware on the risks involved in test flying after what happened to his predecessors) or for a pension scheme. Petter was very talented a/c designer, I think especially Canberra and Lightning, but seems to be rather difficult man to work with. So IMHO 'Adventure with Fate’ is well worth of reading.


Yes IIRC same info is also in the Bingham's book. Maybe the fact that Whirlwind missed the BoB had some effect on the attitude of the Air Ministry towards Westland.



Juha
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