The Westland Whirlwind Fighter Project’s plans to build a replica of the long-extinct World War Two twin-engine fighter-bomber took a big leap forward in mid-November when the first skins for the rear fuselage emerged from an original Westland factory Farnham press.

The press was recently acquired by Sandown, Isle of Wight-based Airframe Assemblies (AA) from Westland’s current owners, Leonardo Helicopters of Italy, when it disposed of many of the remaining machine tools in Yeovil.

As keen supporters of the Whirlwind project, AA then immediately offered to undertake the work on the Farnham machine, which had been installed by Westland Aircraft at its works in Yeovil in 1941 to enable the mass production of Whirlwind skins.

Matt Bearman from the project says, “We expect to have the rear fuselage complete in the next couple of months. The next phase will be the distinctive T-tail, for which we are starting to put together drawings. The bottleneck here is not in the 3D CAD but in the production of usable engineering drawings from the model.”

The first pressings emerging from the original Westland Aircraft Farnham Press, through which much Whirlwind metal passed during the early 1940s.

The Whirlwind was operated by the RAF from June 1940-February 1943, seeing use in roles including bomber escort and ground attack until being replaced by the Hawker Typhoon. The goal of the project is to build a single example of the type that is indistinguishable from an aircraft in squadron service during the war. The final product will not be airworthy but will use original available plans and original materials where possible.