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Westland Welkin F.Mk.1

by Tom Conte


Westland Welkin F.Mk.1


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While the Welkin pasted into history without playing any notable role during World War Two, one its technological achievements still lives on today.

The aircraft was the British response to the high altitude threat of German aircraft. At the time a major hurdle to stratospheric flight was how to keep a pilot alive. Besides providing oxygen to breath, a pilot needs to operate in an environment equivalent to being under 10,000 feet in altitude or he would soon pass out. The designers at Westland developed a pressurizing system that maintained the pilot in reasonable comfort up to the service ceiling of 44,000 feet. It is this original concept in cockpit pressurization that the Welkin contributed to aviation and is still in use today.



The rest of the aircraft components were not as successful in accomplishing their design goals and had problems that could not be resolved before the end of the war. The armament consisted of four 20 MM cannons in a belly mounted tray. Power was provided by two Rolls-Royce Merlins driving superchargers. It was briefly considered for reconnaissance, but never was deployed in that role.



Hallam Vac 1/72 Scale Welkin


This is a nearly twenty year old Hallam-Vac 1/72 scale vacuformed kit. It came with decals, a clear canopy, metal landing gear, props, and engines exhaust. When I came across information about the aircraft even earlier, my first thought was that I had to scratchbuild it. I liked the looks of the long wings and its overall blue finish. Maybe my being a sailplane pilot had something to do with it. Like everything else the project got pushed back until I discovered the kit and bought it thinking this will be a quick and easy project.

The model is a fairly simple build but the challenge was to get the radiators intakes right. For streamlining, the engineers mounted the engine coolant radiators inside the wings. The air needed for cooling was brought in through openings in the wings leading edge between the engines and fuselage.

The modeling problem was that the kit’s plastic was too thin and soft and it was difficult to create the two openings. I was beginning to think I should have scratchbuilt the model starting with better material. One solution was to graft on a section of harder plastic after creating the opening by laminated the pieces. However filing the new section to match the wing’s profile was time consuming. The second solution, which although seemed much simpler almost turned fatal!



Superglues or CA when cured result in a hard material. The plan was to fill the inside of the wing with CA and when harden, use a power grinder to carve the opening. The second the grinding disk touch the wing however, I quickly recalled a hazard material class and realized the little puff of smoke coming from the model was a very deadly gas! The CA in superglue stands for cyanoacrylate, which when exposed to heat is not healthy at all. Who said that model building is not exciting! Needless to say, the intakes were completed by slow hand filing and left in a “good enough” condition.

The rest of the model went together quickly, I added a wooden spar to strengthen the long wings and opened the cannons’ ports and inserted plastic tubing. These were then blended into the belly. All of the metals parts were superglued into place after the paint was removed from their mounting location.



Painting and Markings


The Welkin was finished in Testor’s Model Master paints, given a gloss coat for decals, and finally sprayed in Testor’s Dullcote .






In the image below I have a Westland Whirlwind next to the Welkin for comparison.



Over the years, I have seen many discussions that it might be possible to convert the Whirlwind into a Welkin. That image should remove any thoughts in attempting that project. The Welkin’s the 70 foot wingspan in 1/72 scale results in the model’s wings being nearly a foot long.

Finally having a Welkin in the collection adds a totally different shape and color and a new piece of old technology.

Review and Images Copyright © 2002 by Tom Conte
Page Created 31 August, 2003
Last updated 17 March, 2004

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