At first glance the Westland Welkin looks like Westland’s earlier Whirlwind on Steroids, being powered by Rolls Royce Merlins rather than problematical Peregrines. However the two aircraft were developed to meet quite different requirements and specifications, and so despite appearances a clear evolutionary development is less apparent than say the Hawker Typhoon, Tempest and Sea Fury lineage. The Whirlwind met Air Ministry F.37/35 specification for a cannon armed fighter, whereas the Welkin was intended to meet F.4/40 for a high altitude fighter (later revised as F.7/41), although the high altitude requirement diminished as the Luftwaffe moved away from high altitude missions.
The Welkin suffered from a rather prolonged development linked to a combination of changing requirements and developmental problems. It suffered from a slow roll rate which limited its combat effectiveness (not surprising given its wing-span), and also experienced compressibility problems at high altitude associated with its rather thick aerofoil section and long wings. Westland spent a lot of time ironing out various troubles; refining the cabin pressurisation and adapting the Welkin, on paper at least, to meet other requirements such as a fighter bomber carrying two 2,000 lb bombs.
In the end not a single Welkin would fire its guns in anger, and like many mid-war projects that languished until the war’s end its design and concept would be overtaken by new developments. Two prototypes and 75 Mk 1’s were produced (26 without engines), one of which would be converted to the 2-seat night-fighter version known as the Welkin NF II to meet F.9/43. This last Welkin is the subject of Czech Master Resin’s (CMR) kit covered here.
Whatever the merits of the real aircraft, I for one was glad CMR has produced both versions of the Welkin as I like night fighters, and the Welkin NF II is quite an imposing looking aircraft given its sleek lines, long span and imposing undercarriage.
CMR’s Welkin NF II is a very straightforward kit coming in a zip-lock plastic bag containing the various resin parts in a second bag heat sealed to form various compartments along with two acetate canopies. Easily understood instructions with a painting and decaling guide are provided, and these are accompanied by a very good photographic walk around which includes cockpit interior shots.
The kit is moulded in CMR’s cream resin with very few pin holes, whilst the undercarriage legs are moulded in a stronger black resin material. This second type of resin is also used for the exhaust pipes for a reason I cannot determine. Clear resin parts provide the wing-top lights and porthole style windows in the fuselage sides adjacent to the radar operator’s position. The wings are one piece and include the engine nacelles but with separate radiator inlets, the fuselage is in two halves including fin and rudder, and the tail-plane is two further parts. Remaining parts are undercarriage doors, propeller spinners and blades, tail wheel and a target towing cable fixing that is enclosed at the very rear of the fuselage. A very nicely detailed cockpit tub, seats panel and radar/avionics boxes round out the parts package. Decal options for the prototype markings and later Westland “Hack” aircraft use are provided.
I examined the parts for any distortions or moulding faults that can sometimes be found with resin kits due to the method of production and temperature variations etc. In my case, and unusually for CMR, I did find a slight out-of round situation with the engine faces where the spinners were to mount. This was easily overcome by cutting thin plasticard discs to fix to the nacelle face, followed by a quick dab of filler to restore the circular profile. I did create one other problem for myself however…
I had not worked with the stronger black resin used for the undercarriage and exhausts, so I thought I would get a feel for it by “playing” with the exhaust stacks. Suffice to say, that having decided to drill deeper holes in the end of the exhaust I damaged two beyond repair. This was my fault, not the resin’s. Anyway, I considered scratch building replacements, but got lazy and grabbed some spare exhausts from a Hasegawa Lancaster. These were a bit thinner than CMR’s because the Lancaster’s exhausts are flatter than the Welkin’s which are rounder in section. As a result I had to line the grooves where the exhausts fit to make this difference less apparent. I can live with the styrene exhaust, although strictly speaking they are not quite right.
The cockpit interior went together well, and I was pleasantly surprised to find how well the clear resin porthole windows worked after just a little polishing (good to know as I have a CMR Avro York to do which has numerous clear resin porthole windows!). The fuselage halves were a good fit after just a little trimming of the cockpit tub, which then left me with the wings.
Initially I thought getting the wings to fit and hold might be a problem. But these were very well moulded, distortion free, and the instructions clearly show how high the fuselage should be above a level surface when the engine nacelles are resting on it. I drilled some holes to take some thick brass rod to reinforce the wing roots, but on reflection I feel this was un-necessary. Suffice to say that fitting the long span wings was very easy and presented no problems. Likewise the tailplane was fine, although I used a bit of filler to blend in the bullet-shaped fairing.
The Welkin’s undercarriage is a combination of very sturdy main legs with rather fussy doubled tubular bracing struts running to the rear of the undercarriage bays in the engine nacelles. The undercarriage itself has a very characteristic forward-swept stance, which CMR ensures you achieve by having moulded a substantial block at the base of the main leg that inserts into a corresponding indentation in the undercarriage bay. I found that the biggest challenge with the undercarriage was the patient removal of the unavoidable flash associated with its shape and the way it must be moulded. The black resin seamed a bit more difficult to clean up than the cream, but once painted I was pleasantly surprised with the result. Fitting undercarriage doors and tail were no-fuss operations, but pay careful attention to the paint demarcation lines on the doors between the underside yellow and upper surface grey.
The props are handed and I admit to often struggling with resin props. I was too lazy to prepare a jig to establish pitch and position and did my props by eye, and as a result I really need to do them again! I do think that perhaps manufacturers of both resin and styrene kits with separate prop blades could consider providing a jig like Quickboost do with their replacement props.
I usually cut my vac-form canopies out towards the end of kit build, but I learned a good lesson that I will apply to all kits with vac-formed canopies in future: Cut them out early and check fit before you close the fuselage halves, and if necessary slim or widen the fuselage for a good fit (as you cannot do much for fit adjustments with acetate canopies). When I came to fit the Welkin canopy I found it to be a little wide. I then recalled having to pare off some cockpit tub resin to close the fuselage halves, and so concluded I must have over-sanded the fuselage halves when “dressing” the fuselage edges to be joined on some wet and dry paper. If I had test fitted the canopy I would have realised the need for a small plasticard shim to widen the cockpit opening in compensation for too much sanding.
Painting was simple, and CMR’s decals went on well as usual with no problems experienced, and no solvent being needed.
Well all in all I enjoyed my Welkin NF II build. I don’t feel I did the kit full justice given my errors with the exhausts and canopy fit, but even so my Welkin has drawn quite a bit of approval and attention from friends viewing my model display cabinet. CMR’s kit definitely captures the presence of the Welkin NF II apparent in photos, and it stands out when displayed alongside other 1:72 models. For me and my purposes that is as good a definition of a successful modelling result as any. I hope to get around to building the Welkin Mk I at some stage as it looks quite different with its DH Hornet style single seat canopy, and I imagine it would be very similar to build as the NF II. This was my sixth CMR, and seventh resin build. To those who have yet to build a CMR kit I strongly recommend you do as they are far easier than might be thought and have always rewarded me with pleasing results.
Additional images, click to enlarge