Corgi AA39102 Royal Naval Air Service Westland Whirlwind HAS Mk VII Medium Lift Helicopter - XN387, Eglinton, Northern Ireland, 1961 (1:72 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The Westland Whirlwind helicopter was a British license-built version of the U.S. Sikorsky S-55/H-19 Chickasaw. It primarily served with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm in anti-submarine and search-and rescue roles.
In 1950, Westland Aircraft, already building the American Sikorsky S-51 under license as the Westland Dragonfly, purchased the rights to manufacture and sell Sikorsky's larger Sikorsky S-55 helicopter. While a Sikorsky-built pattern aircraft was flown by Westland in June 1951, converting the design to meet British standards (including the provision of a revised main-rotor gearbox), was time consuming, and the first prototype British aircraft, registered G-AMJT, powered by the 600 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-40 Wasp did not fly until August 1953. This was followed by ten Whirlwind HAR.1s, which entered service shortly afterwards. They served in non-combat roles, including search and rescue and communications functions. The HAR.3 had a larger 700 hp Wright R-1300-3 Cyclone 7 engine.
The performance of early versions was limited by the power of the American Wasp or Cyclone engines, and in 1955, the HAR.5, powered by the more powerful British power plant, the Alvis Leonides Major, flew for the first time. This was followed by the similarly powered HAS.7, which became the first British helicopter designed for anti-submarine work in the front-line when it entered service in 1957. It could either be equipped with a dipping Sonar for submarine detection or carry a torpedo, but could not carry both simultaneously, so sonar equipped "Hunters" were used to direct torpedo armed "Killers". The HAS.7 was powered by a 750 hp (560 kW) Alvis Leonides Major 755/1 radial engine. It had a hovering ceiling at 9,400 ft and a range of 334 miles at 86 mph. Later in their lives, some HAR.7s were converted to use the Rolls-Royce Gnome turboshaft engine.
From its start with the Navy, the Whirlwind came to be used by the British Army and Royal Air Force. More than 400 Whirlwinds were built, of which nearly 100 were exported to foreign customers.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a RAF Westland Whirlwind HAR Mk10 medium lift helicopter that was based at Eglinton, Northern Ireland, during 1961. Sold Out!
Rotor Span: 6-1/2 inches
Length: 7 inches
Release Date: August 2011
Historical Account: "Search and Rescue" - The arrival of the Whirlwind Mk10 with 22 Squadron in the latter part of 1962 saw a significant increase in the capability of SAR Helicopters. With up to a 30% increase in fuel/pay load over the earlier piston engined Whirlwinds.
The aircraft had a greatly enhanced range and was able to respond more successfully to a wider range of tasks. There was no promised night flying rescue task because the Whirlwind lacked appropriate equipment such as auto-stabilisation, target illumination, radar etc for the role in complete darkness. The policy was therefore to maintain a 15-minute readiness throughout the hours of daylight and a one-hour readiness at night. In practice most of the night operations requested were in fact carried out.
XJ729 served with 22 Squadron from 1962 until it was withdrawn from service in 1981. It was later sold into private ownership, re-registered as G-BVGE and restored in its former SAR colors. Based in Ireland, it is currently the only Whirlwind still flying.