TYPE: High-altitude Interceptor
ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only
POWER PLANT: Two Rolls-Royce Merlin 76/77 liquid-cooled engines, rated at 1,250 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 387 mph at 26,000 ft
COMMENT: The Westland Welkin was a British twin-engine heavy fighter from the Westland Aircraft Company, designed in 1940 to fight at extremely high altitudes, in the stratosphere. Westland had some expertise in twin-engine aircraft; its Whirlwind Mk.I escort fighter was in full production. The word Welkin means “the vault of heaven” or the upper atmosphere. As mentioned, first conceived in 1940, it was built from 1942–43 in response to the arrival of modified Junkers Ju 86P bombers flying reconnaissance missions that suggested the German Luftwaffe might attempt to re-open the bombing of England from high altitude. But the threat was never materialized. Consequently, Westland produced only a small number of Welkins. In total 77 aircraft were built but only few of these flew. Most of the aircraft were produced without engines. One sole aircraft was modified as Welkin II which had a lengthened nose to accommodate A.I. radar (Ref.: 23).