Valiant Wings Publishing | Airframe Album No. 4: The Whirlwind (Second Edition)
Reviewed by Kevin Futter
Valiant Wings Publishing has just released a second editions number four in its Airframe Album series, entitled The Westland Whirlwind: A Detailed Guide To The RAF's Twin-engine Fighter. In common with previous titles in the series, this one is authored by Richard A. Franks.
This second edition has been expanded from 82 to 98 pages, with new cover artwork by Arkadiusz Wróbel, the addition of some 1/48 scale plans by Richard Caruana at the end of the book, and a new build of the Special Hobby 1/32 kit by Steve Evans. While the print quality is still excellent, the pages are noticeably thinner on the newer edition, so total thickness is relatively unchanged from its shorter predecessor.
The content is broken up into five main sections plus appendices:
- Technical Description
- Evolution - Prototype, Production and Projected Variants
- Camouflage & Markings
- Big-Scale Whirlwind
Along with a seven-page preface, the appendices make up the rest of the material:
- Kit List
- Accessory List
- Decal List
As already mentioned, the last section of the book consists of six pages of scale plans in 1/48 scale.
This section is further broken down into eight sub-sections:
- Group 1 - Fuselage
- Group 2 - Undercarriage
- Group 3 - Tail
- Group 4 - Wings
- Group 5 - Engines
- Group 6 - Weaponry
- Group 7 - Electrical
- Group 8 - Miscellaneous
The content consists mostly of technical drawings and diagrams, annotated photographs and some lengthy captions. There's plenty of detail on offer, and many of the diagrams appear to be from official sources.
Evolution - Prototype, Production and Projected Variants
This section consists of a straightforward chronological walk-through of the various versions both real and projected. Photographs and descriptions are augmented with isometric 3D renderings of each type (roughly one per page). Of interest is the fact that the initial design featured a twin-tail layout, but was never built.
Camouflage & Markings
This section begins with an in-depth discussion of the evolution of camouflage and markings for the Whirwhind, supported by extensive photographs and captions. The various schemes are also shown in colour plan views, along with illustrations of the national markings used (style, size and colour). The section closes out with five pages of colour profile drawings by Richard Caruana, shown in rough chronological order.
The final section of the book deals with the production history of the type, and to quote the opening paragraph, features "a brief history of every Whirlwind built". Staggeringly, it's all over in eight pages, reminding us of the extent to which the Whirlwind was unable to live up to its initial promise. A small selection of photographs helps illustrate the proceedings. This is certainly a useful section should you wish to model a particular airframe.
New to this second edition is a seven-page build of the new Special Hobby 1/32 Whirwind kit, which was obviously not available in 2014 when the first edition was published. It's great to see that that one of the best Whirlwind kits currently available is in "our" scale, and Steve Evans does a great job on it, turning out a lovely rendition of P6985 J•HE.
The appendices span a mere three pages, covering available kits, aftermarket and decals, as well as a bibliography listing other references on the type. The Westland Whirlwind has not been particularly well covered in any scale, so it stands to reason that this section is necessarily brief. It also serves to remind us that there is still an opportunity for a manufacturer to fill that particular conspicuous void in 1/32 scale. We can but hope.
Below are some sample pages from the Valiant Wings website, to give you a sense of nature and style of the content of the book.
Not being an expert on the Whirlwind myself, I can't comment with any authority on the veracity or thoroughness of this title's content. I can say however that it's very nicely produced, with plenty of information, photographs and illustrations, and should serve as a useful reference no matter which kit you're building. And given the recent release of the Special Hobby kit in 1/32 scale, this new edition is also timely, providing a one-stop reference for any build of that kit. The kit build and scale plans are also welcome additions.
Thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for the review copy.
© Kevin Futter 2021
This review was published on Friday, October 29 2021; Last modified on Friday, October 29 2021