Aviation Archive Issue 25 - 2016 UK

(Jacob Rumans) #1


Westland Welkin F1

Type: High-altitude,
twin-engined long-range
Crew: One
Length: 41ft 6in (12.67m)
Wingspan: 70ft (21.3m)
Height: 15ft 9in (4.8m)
Empty: 8,310lb (3,768kg)
Max T/O: 10,356lb (4,697kg)
Max Speed: 385mph (625km/h)
Range: 1,480 miles (2,380km)
Powerplant: Two Rolls-Royce Merlin
76/77 inline piston
engines of 1,233hp each
Armament: Four Hispano
20mm cannon

Left: The immense wingspan of the Welkin (some
70ft) is apparent in this image. The wings were
so large that the high lift Fowler flaps of the
Whirlwind were not needed, and were replaced
by a simple split flap.

muzzle flash was also less likely to dazzle the
pilot. The Air Ministry accepted the Welkin
design and issued a new specification (F.7/41)
for the prototype. This took to the air on
1 November 1942. Although the new aircraft
lived up to most expectations, events had
passed it by. The Germans had failed to produce
high altitude aircraft in any numbers, reducing

the significance of the threat. By the time the
prototype took to the air, a specially lightened
Spitfire Mk V had shot down a Junkers Ju 86P
at 42,000ft, reducing the need for a specialised
fighter. After only 67 production aircraft had
been completed, the Welkin was cancelled.
Two Welkins served with the Fighter
Interception Unit based at RAF Wittering from
May to November 1944, where they were used
to gain experience and formulate tactics for
high altitude fighter operations. A two-seat,
radar-equipped night fighter version known
as the Welkin NF Mk II for specification F.9/43
was also developed, but it was not ordered into
production, marking the end of the Welkin.
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