Friends of The Helicopter Museum

Westland Whirlwind Mk.10, XD163, History and Restoration

Whirlwind XD163 History

Westland Whirlwind HAR Mk.10, XD163, code 'X', started life as the first production Mk.4, built at Yeovil in 1954 to provide an 8-seat transport for the RAF. It was powered by one Pratt & Whitney R-1340-57 supercharged radial piston engine, serving with No.155 Squadron as a troop transport, based at Kuala Lumpur in Malaya, after being shipped out to Singapore on H.M.S. Ocean. From early 1959, XD163 served with 275/228 Squadrons, on SAR duties, at Leuchars, in Scotland, and at Leconfield.

In 1962, at Westland's Weston-super-Mare factory, it was converted to Mk.10 configuration, with one 1050 shp Gnome H1000 turboshaft replacing the piston engine in a modified and lengthened nose, giving more power, reduced weight and improved reliability.
In 1964, as a Mk.10, XD163 was serving at RAF Akrotiri, in Cyprus, on SAR duties, followed by a two month detachment, in 1965, to the Khormaksar SAR Flight in Aden. It returned to the UK in 1966, for overhaul at Wroughton, and subsequent use by the Central Flying School (Helicopters), at RAF Ternhill and RAF Shawbury, with occasional detachments to RAF Valley. 
While serving with CFS, XD163 was sent to RAF Finningley for display at the Queen's Silver Jubilee Review, on 29th July 1977. It was withdrawn from active service in 1979, allocated maintenance serial 8645M, stored at Wroughton and acquired by Elfan ap Rees in 1980. 
XD163 remained at Wroughton, on loan to the Science Museum collection, until 6th April 1991, when it was collected by Friends members, Adrian Brimson and John Phillips (left), and transported to The Helicopter Museum for display in its 1978 CFS livery. Soon after arrival, at The Museum, a Gnome turboshaft engine was fitted and tail rotor drive components were installed. The flexible fuel tanks were re-fitted below the cabin floor and sundry other components were re-assembled or replaced.
Twelve years after arrival at The Museum, followed by a long exposure to the salt-laden seaside atmosphere, the Whirlwind was moved into the Restoration Hangar where conservation work re-started in July 2003. We followed its progress, with words and pictures, on these pages, until completion in 2008.

Whirlwind Restoration

XD163 was given a partial structural survey in June 2003. Following the survey it was decided that a comprehensive restoration was necessary, before it could be returned to static display.
The cockpit roof had suffered severe corrosion and daylight could be seen through it from inside. On 9th August Mike and James started preparing for the delicate job of removing the decayed roof and its glazing, while ensuring that sound structures beneath were not damaged in the process. Photo (right) by Mike Reading. It was later decided that all of the windscreen panels and frames would be removed for inspection, cleaning and repainting. Work started on 16th August to detach wiring looms and other items from these windscreen frames.
Work also started to remove the main rotor blades. Two came off successfully but the two taper pins securing the third blade had suffered more from corrosion, so were soaked in rust-removing fluid for a few days until a further attempt could be made. One of the two taper pins on the remaining blade was extracted on 16th August but the second pin was more stubborn and required a bit of differential thermal expansion, some days later, before it too could be extracted and the final blade removed.
All the fittings and wiring looms were stripped out of the interior of the cockpit. Photo (left) of XD163 on 20th August 2003, is looking across from the left side towards the rear bulkhead. This work was done in preparation for the removal of the whole of the cockpit canopy frame (right) which eased the task of cleaning off and inhibiting corrosion prior to the manufacture of a new roof top panel and complete re-painting.
The canopy frame was lifted off the fuselage on the 23rd August 2003 and the extraction of more than 400 rivets, which secured the roof panels, was under way on the 6th September (right). The corroded panels were removed from the frame on 13th September 2003.

Meanwhile the two tail rotor blades and hub had been removed and the pitch control mechanism was partially dismantled. The universal joint, part way down the tail rotor drive shaft above the tail boom, was found to be missing but a substitute was found and prepared for fitting.
Photographed on 27th August 2003, the instrument panel (left) was already tilted to the vertical and, three days later, was lifted clear with instruments still in place. With the cockpit canopy frame removed, access to the rear of the panel, to detach the many connectors, had been relatively easy.

In early October 2003 the tail rotor drive shaft sections were removed, repainted and replaced. One of the shaft support brackets was found to be fractured and this was removed and replaced by one from a donor Whirlwind. Meanwhile, work continued on dismantling some of the cockpit fittings and on repairing and cleaning the cockpit canopy frame which had been removed in August. In the following weeks the tail rotor drive shaft covers were re-painted.

In early December 2003 Mike Addicott overhauled and repainted the oil cooler (above left) and replaced it behind the main gearbox. The cooler securing brackets had also been cleaned and repainted (above right).
Later in December the bulkhead panels between the rear of the cockpit and the main gearbox were removed. These had corroded badly, due to entry of water from above, and were rebuilt by our sheet metal experts who, by February 2004, were also working on the replacement cockpit roof (above right). New volunteer, Stuart (above left), completed the painting of the canopy frame.
XD163 Restoration -- The Second 8 Months
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