Whitworth Whitley Mk.V
In July 1934, the Air Ministry issued Specification B.3/34, seeking a heavy night bomber/troop transport to replace the Handley Page Heyford biplane bomber. John Lloyd, the Chief Designer of Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft, chose to respond to the specification with a design designated as the AW.38, which later was given the name Whitley after the location of Armstrong Whitworth's main factory. The design of the AW.38 was in fact a development of the Armstrong Whitworth AW.23 bomber-transport design that had lost to the Bristol Bombay for the earlier Specification C.26/31.
Lloyd selected the Armstrong Siddeley Tiger IX radial engine to power the Whitley, which was capable of generating 795 horsepower. One of the more innovative features of the Whitley's design was the adoption of a three-bladed two-position variable-pitch propeller built by de Havilland; the Whitley was the first aircraft to fly with such an arrangement. As Lloyd was unfamiliar with the use of flaps on a large heavy monoplane, they were initially omitted from the design. To compensate, the mid-set wings were set at a high angle of incidence (8.5°) to provide good take-off and landing performance. Although flaps were included late in the design stage, the wing remained unaltered; as a result, the Whitley flew with a pronounced nose-down attitude when flown with the wings in the cruising position, resulting in considerable drag.
The Whitley holds the distinction of having been the first RAF aircraft with a semi-monocoque fuselage, which was built using a slab-sided structure to ease production. This replaced the traditional tubular construction method employed by Armstrong Whitworth, instead constructing the airframe from light-alloy rolled sections, pressings and corrugated sheets. According to aviation author Philip Moyes, the decision to adopt the semi-monocoque fuselage was a significant advance in design; many Whitleys surviving severe damage on operations.
While the Tiger VIII engine used in the Whitley Mks II and III was more reliable than those used in early aircraft, the Whitley was re-engined with Rolls-Royce Merlin engines in 1938, giving rise to the Whitley Mk IV. Three Whitley Mk I aircraft, K7208, K7209, and K7211, were initially re-engined to serve as prototypes. The new engines are accredited with producing greatly improved performance. Other changes made included the replacement of the manually operated tail and retractable ventral turrets with a Nash & Thompson powered turret equipped with four .303 in (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns, the increasing of fuel tank capacity, including two additional fuel tanks in the wing. A total of 40 Whitley Mk IV and Whitley Mk IVA, a sub-variant featuring more powerful models of the Merlin engine, were completed.
The decision was made to introduce a series of other minor improvements to produce the Whitley Mk V. These included the modification of the tail fins and rudders, the fitting of leading edge de-icers, further fuel capacity increases, a smaller D/F loop in a streamlined fairing being adopted, and the extension of the rear fuselage by 15 in to improve the rear-gunner's field of fire. The Whitley Mk V was by far the most numerous version of the aircraft, with 1,466 built until production ended in June 1943.
The clear parts are thin with
well defined frame lines but are not all that optically clear.
decals are thin and in register and appear to be sufficiently
opaque with a flat finish. All but two of the smaller roundels
have a very minimal amount of excess clear film. The sheet
provides markings for two aircraft, one in the traditional green
and brown over black from # 102 Squadron, #4 Group from March
1940 and an all black aircraft from #10 Squadron, #4 Group from
December 1941. The sheet provides instrument panel and radio
face decals, a map decal for the navigators table and a few
instructions are the typical fare for the newer
Airfix kits, an A4 sized booklet 16 pages long and
stapled at the spine. The cover page has a brief
history and specifications in five languages. The
second page has some basic assembly instructions
and an icon chart. There is no parts map or color
chart. The color call outs are small circles
spread throughout the instructions with Humbrol
numbers only. Not very handy in my opinion, at
least color names would be helpful. The next
twelve pages have gray scale cad drawings with
colors used to show parts being installed. The
last two pages have the painting and marking
instructions. At least here color names are
supplied in addition to Humbrol numbers. Some of
the pages get fairly cluttered but the use of
After Market Goodies
I wasn't all that impressed with the decals for the instrument panel so I got this Eduard Zoom set mostly for the panels and seat harnesses. A few of the other items may be useful as well, only time will tell. I also got an Eduard Mask set [CX420].
This kit certainly is way nicer than the previous Airfix kit which I built many years ago and way better than the Frog or Matchbox kits. It's well detailed and molded and if its like their other new releases should build up easily as well. Recommended !
Links to kit build or reviews
Build/Review can be found here.
Famous Bombers of the Second World War by William Green
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