Cutting Edge

Harald Penrose in the cockpit the second prototype Whirlwind, L6845. ROLLS-ROYCE-KEC

Tom Spencer profiles some of the key individuals of the Whirlwind story

Gifted, but by all accounts difficult to work with, William Edward Willoughby Petter was just 30 when the twin-engined fighter he had designed first took to the air.

‘Teddy’ was the eldest son of Sir Ernest Petter, who became the chairman of Petters Ltd, of which the Yeovil-based Westland was a sub-division until it became a separate company in 1935. With a ‘First’ in mechanical engineering from Cambridge, he joined the aircraft division of his family firm as an apprentice, working in every department.

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