Faster and better armed than the Spitfire, the Whirlwind was the RAF’s counter to a new generation of armoured German bombers which it expected to meet in English skies in 1940. A few months after its first flight 1,000 Whirlwinds were ordered, but nine months later the RAF cancelled the entire programme. Just 114 were built, but they went on to have a distinguished three-year career from the uneasy months after the Battle of Britain to their final sorties against Hitler’s V-weapons sites in France. Based on fresh research, this new and overdue study throws new light on why the RAF had such high hopes for the Whirlwind, but was still prepared to cancel it, its designer’s efforts to save the programme and, above all, the aircraft’s operational record. Attacking railways, shipping, torpedo boats and airfields, often against fierce opposition, the Whirlwind squadrons flew with determination and style and saw themselves as a privileged elite within Fighter Command – the ‘fewest of the few’. Illustrated with rare and unpublished b&w from the period, it is of interest to aviation and military historians as well as scale modellers.