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1:32 Westland Whirlwind F Mk.1

James H

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1:32 Westland Whirlwind F Mk.1 ‘Cannon Fighter’
Special Hobby

Catalogue # 32047
Available from Artscale for €61,30



The Westland Whirlwind was a British twin-engine heavy fighter developed by Westland Aircraft. A contemporary of the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane, it was the first single-seat, twin-engine, cannon-armed fighter of the Royal Air Force. When it first flew in 1938, the Whirlwind was one of the fastest combat aircraft in the world, and with four Hispano-Suiza HS.404 20 mm autocannon in its nose, the most heavily armed. Protracted development problems with its Rolls-Royce Peregrine engines delayed the project and few Whirlwinds were built. 


Many pilots who flew the Whirlwind praised its performance. A 263 Squadron pilot said, "It was regarded with absolute confidence and affection". By comparison the test pilot Eric Brown described the aircraft as "under-powered" and "a great disappointment". The Whirlwind was also fitted with underwing bomb racks and were nicknamed "Whirlibombers". At least 67 conversions made from the original Mk I fighter. During the Second World War, only three RAF squadrons were equipped with the aircraft but despite its success as a fighter and ground attack aircraft, it was withdrawn from service in 1943.
Adapted from Wikipedia


The kit

It’s been around 40yrs since I held a kit of a Whirlwind in my hand, with that then being the old 1:72 Airfix kit that was first released in 1958…..just 15yrs after the Whirlwind left service!!  Special Hobby’s highly anticipated, large scale 1:32 Westland Whirlwind is the first injection moulded kit in this scale and had been mooted for a year or two before release. This one is packed into the same, large size box as their other 1:32 releases, such as the Tempest range, and the lid is adorned with a beautiful but simple painting of the aircraft over cloud cover, perfectly showing its lines. At some angles, the Whirlwind can look a little ungainly, but SH have made sure this image reflects the aircraft at its most menacingly beautiful. 






The kit contains NINE light grey styrene sprues, ONE clear sprue, a set of instructions and a single decal sheet. No resin or PE elements are present in this release. I presume that may come with SH’s potential Hi-Tech edition, as I do know there are several resin upgrade sets that will be released for this, as well as a set of masks from Special Hobby. 





Not all parts in this release will be used for this particular build, so I presume we’re going to see other editions, such as the Whirlibomber too….especially as bombs are included but zeroed out for use! I’ m not sure how viable it would be to build one with the parts included, or if there’s anything vital that’s not included in this release.




Construction starts with the pilot’s office, as tends to be the case. With this one though, the cockpit floor is a separate entity which sits on the upper side of the wing centre section and the closed up fuselage with the remainder of the cockpit is then sat atop this, a little like how Special Hobby did their 1:32 Yak-3 fighter. The cockpit itself is superbly detailed. Fine rib and stringer detail is moulded within the fuselage halves as a starter. Internally, the cockpit comprises of detailed bulkheads, optional instrument panels for early and late versions, trim wheel, oxygen tank, amazingly detailed side console units with their levers, quadrants, switch banks, tail surface push rods etc. Of note are those instrument panels with their superbly rendered details, levers, bezels etc. The instrument faces are also blank, to accept the instrument decals that are supplied. Those are printed in one piece to cover the whole panel, but I’d look at perhaps punching out the individual dials so you don’t need to get the decal to conform to various raised and lowered details across different levels. 





To the back of the pilot are the flare chutes, also nicely reproduced here. You may just catch a glimpse of these behind the pilot seat, but I wouldn’t lay money on that. To the rear of the pilot, you also have the avionics sat on the turtle deck. The cockpit floor module is no less detailed, with over a dozen parts including nicely rendered two-part floor, rudder bar/torque rod assembly, pedals etc. The seat isn’t fitted until the airframe is assembled, again, in the same way as their Yak-3. This one comprises eight parts and will look great when built. The only problem is the kit provides no seatbelts! The control stick is also built and fitted at this ;late stage too.



Externally, the fuselage details are very nice, with fine panel line engravings and good rivet detail. The nose of the Whirlwind is separate so the cannon can later be fitted. There will be a resin upgrade for this area which will detail the whole nose gun bay. The rudder is also separate too. 






Special Hobby have moulded a full-span wing which is assembled as traditional upper and lower halves. The ailerons have been moulded as part of the wings, as have the landing flaps. The latter would just add further complication as it would’ve needed the rear engine nacelles to sort of move with them, so that’s understandable why they didn’t bother with it. The airbrakes on the inboard upper wings, however, are separate and can be posed. Internally, the wings have their inboard engine intake parts and there are also sections of the wing spar structure that can be seen too, so it’s good to have captured that aspect. 






I’m a little at odds with some of the external surface textures on the wing. In all, they actually look very good, but looking at some photos of the machine, they seem to point towards things looking a little exaggerated with the raised elements, such as the wing fuel tank area, and the raised lines on the area to the outboard side of each nacelle. I think I would perhaps want to see if I could lessen the overall effect.






Assembly of the stabilisers and elevators is traditional with an ability to pose these, should you wish. 





Building the engine nacelles looks straightforward, and thankfully, they’ve been designed so he undercarriage can be fitted after the main paint scheme is applied. The nacelles are also as well detailed internally, with the back of the Peregrine engine being included to mimic the full thing. There are no exhausts to speak of, but rather the slimline shrouds which were a hallmark of the nicely egg-shaped pods into which those engines fitted, without any real thing to ruin the lines.




The props look like they are designed to be shown without spinner, if needed, as the inner hub details are very good, and the hub itself is built from five separate parts, not including the spinner backplate. Each prop has three separate blades too. The undercarriage assemblies look reasonably easy to sort, with some attachment points for the hydraulics lying towards the rear bulkhead, in the well ceiling. I don’t think too much fettling will be needed to get these into place and to ensure they’re level on both sides. Parts detail is very fine, and these will look great with a wash applied. Wheels are supplied as halves and have a weighted appearance to them. Lack of tread means they’ll present no problem in seam removal.


The clear sprue is beautifully clear, and moulded nice and thin. The windscreen is moulded with the immediate fuselage area incorporated as is seen in kits such as Tamiya’s 1:32 P-51D, and of course, the canopy can be posed in either an open or closed position. Other parts on this sprue include the gunsight reflector, fin light cover, tail light cover, wingtip lights and underwing lights.




A single, Cartograf-printed decal sheet is included with markings for four schemes; two of which use the older style brown and green camo, and the other two using the grey and green scheme. The decals themselves are nice and thin, contain solid and authentic colours, and with minimal carrier film. As with anything Carttograf prints, these should present no problems. A small number of stencils are included, as are decals for both style of instrument panel. The included schemes are:


  1. Westland Whirlwind Mk.I, P6985, HE-J, No.263 Squadron RAF, Exeter air base, March 1941
  2. Westland Whirlwind Mk.I, P7061, HE-A, No.263 Squadron RAF, Charmy Down airfield, September 1941.
  3. Westland Whirlwind Mk.I, P7118, HE-F, „Bellows Argentina No.2“, pilot S/L Eelse, No.263 Squadron RAF, Colerne airfield, Wiltshire, Winter 1941/42.
  4. Westland Whirlwind Mk.I, P7081, HE-E, “Bellows Argentina No.3”, No.263 Squadron RAF, Charmy Down airfield, October 1941.









This glossy, 16-page A4 manual breaks down the Whirlwind into 73 constructional stages, all illustrated with clear line drrawings and small elements of colour to denote part numbers or areas requiring paint. The latter has letters throughout which relate to a key in the early part of the manual, listing Gunze paint codes. The last pages of the manual are tied over to the schemes, and printed in full colour for ease of use.






I’ve waited almost a lifetime for a large-scale kit of this beautiful and yet failed attempt at a powerful, cannon-equipped fighter, and I’m not disappointed. Special Hobby’s kit not only captures the Whirlwind’s awkward and slightly gangly lines (at certain angles), but also adds to this with excellent internal details and some very nice surface details. I do feel some external details are perhaps a little too heavy, but I can generally forgive that for what is a fantastic kit, overall. The engineering of this kit is so that there’s no awkward fit between the fuselage and wing, and the wing being full-length unit also helps with ease of assembly. It would’ve been nice to see separate ailerons as there are with the rudder and elevators, but this can be done with some ingenuity, should you wish. In all, a lovely kit of one of my favourite subjects. What’s not to like!

My sincere thanks to ArtScale for the sample seen here. To purchase, click the link at the top of this article.





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Looks like you, Phil and I are of the same generation, James ;) . I, too, built the Airfix Whirlwind a loooong time ago, and have kept my love for it since.

And, yes, I had to jump on this one as soon as it was available, for this same reason :). Thank you for the review, James. It’s a vey nice kit indeed. As per my usual standards, I’ll have it in a civilian scheme.

Kudos to SH for a bold move. They deserve a genuine success for this non-mainstream initiative.


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  • 1 year later...

Neil Robinson has written an excellent Wingleader photo archive of this wonderful kit. (Archive 19). The photo captions make the book essential support material to anyone building this kit. 

I bought the kit when it came out, it has just migrated to the top of the stash.....like everyone hear I've wanted a large scale Lightning since building the original Airfix kit.  I don't know why, but the Whirlwind has "something"..

Yes, it is a brave tooling for an aircraft that never really made a big mark, probably because the Mosquito could do everything the Whirlwind could do and it used the Merlin, not the Peregrine which Rolls Royce felt had reached the end of its life.  

The kit has some issues, the lack of positionable flaps being the main one and yes, the armour on the wing tanks looks overdone. But overall it looks fine!  

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