Sud-Aviation in France had developed its SA300 design as a medium transport helicopter in 1965 and this formed the basis of the SA330 Puma, to be built on production lines in France (by Sud-Aviation, and Aerospatiale from 1970) and the UK (by Westland). The other types involved were the Aerospatiale Gazelle and Westland Lynx.
Chris Whitley, e-mail, 04.02.2021 18:31
Good afternoon Jock, don't think I ever knew your first name. I was (eventually) Killick of our bunk-space on the Albion. I have a picture of you and the rest of the lads in our bunk-space - you with a bra on your head, hugging a stanchion with a finger covering a pin-up's boob. Great days. If you'd like a copy of the picture let me know. My favourite story about Jerry Vilku was of him, at the fun-fair one Flora Day, undoing his turban and flying it from the top of the Big Wheel. Great bloke and a sad loss
Neil "The Noo" Chandler, 17.05.2020 22:28
Hi Vic Are you still down under I lost touch with you and only just re discovered this page while researching the Wessie 5 that has been rebuilt near me and flying again. Best regards, Neil
Neil Chandler, e-mail, 17.05.2020 22:22
Hi Only just come across this and I was very good friends with Jerry as was with him on 848 and remember one time on way back from Sembawang with the Albion we stopped in Durban and it was aparthied times and going ashore was a real problem. He was a great guy and my WREN wife Sue, who worked in the Flying Clothing Store, knew him just well. If you read this please get in touch Many thanks Neil (The Noo)
Stewart William FORBES, e-mail, 17.05.2020 15:39
I was in Sharjah in 1970 (JT rigger) not sure which squadron, 72, 78. we had a Wessex return from an opp one day with his RH undercarriage brace sheared off and the wheel up by the jet pipe and burnt out. we had to build a platform out of bits and piece with old tyres on top. it took a while, 3 or 4 attempts and one in flight refuelling operation and a couple of crew changes as the captain had to hover 6 feet off the ground for a long time. the flight crews kept us in beer for a week after that anyone out there remember this
IAN SOMERS, e-mail, 24.11.2017 16:25
My Dads' last years in the FAA were at Culdrose. He had been on HMS Eagle one year. He was LEM (air) on the Wessex 1's. I can not remember which squadron he was with. He came home one afternoon with two photographs.
From the ground looking up at one of the Wessex coming down to touch down. The next photo showed the chopper on the ground right side collapsed and crumpled with right side undercarriage missing. Apparently as the aircraft was coming down the right side wheel fell off and bounced through the blades leaving the hapless pilot to just drop into the ground heavily before the thing had change to enter into a torque spin. He left all his photos when he passed away but I have not been able to find those of the wounded wessex. Is there anyone else still alive who remembers said incident.?
George Haloulakos, e-mail, 23.06.2017 01:52
One of the most famous aircraft in the Falkland Islands War was the Wessex HAS.3 (XP142) helicopter – affectionately known as “Humphrey” – stationed aboard the destroyer HMS Antrim. The Smithsonian Channel's Helicopter series has an episode titled "White Out" that presents a detailed first-hand account of how this helicopter was flown in the midst of icy blizzard conditions to complete what started as a special forces deployment, then became an evacuation when the weather worsened but turned into a rescue mission when two other helicopters crashed while trying to take off from Fortuna Glacier (islands of South Georgia). "Humphrey" was able to rescue all the special forces troops plus the downed helicopter crews! A few days later, this same Wessex helicopter was back in action, this time dropping depth charges on an enemy submarine. “Humphrey” is a testimony to a great aircraft handled with skill and uncommon valor!
Marcus Peake, e-mail, 25.08.2016 08:45
The Wessex 31A built for the Royal Australian Navy were not, strictly speaking, withdrawn from service. Twenty six of the twenty seven aircraft were converted to the 31B model, with upgraded engines and a better weapons system. The 31Bs were finally withdrawn from service in 1989, after some 36 years in service.
Dermot Collins[Jumper], e-mail, 23.12.2013 22:43
Joined 706 sqdn at Culdrose[LAMae] in 1962 with the first of the Wessex mk.1.Moved to 815 and did the far east 1963. Booted off Ark at Aden[ Nov] to support Radfan. Switched to Centaur Feb 1964 and back to Singapore. Anyone else remember?
ALLAN MORTON, e-mail, 27.09.2013 22:13
I remember the old Wessex helicopters that were used by the RAF Search and Rescue squadrons at Lossiemouth or Kinloss in the 80s and 90s when I was a member of Tayside Police MRT that operated in the Angus and Perthshire glens in Scotland.We flew in the Wessex on a few occasions up until,I think it was 1992,when they were withdrawn to be replaced by the Sea King.One memorable rescue would have been in the late 80s in the Angus glen of Glen Clova when we were asked to search a path called the Kilbo path ,in the middle of winter, for two 10 year dold boys and one of their fathers .This took pace in the middle of the night and we were helped halfway up the mountain along the path by a fantastic Wessex crew. There was some marvellous flying that night but as the aircraft could not enter the cloud we were obliged to jump from the hovering aircraft as it toughed ground with on front wheel onto a large rock and hovered,on what sounded like full power,whils we took the ten foot drop onto what was thankfully soft snow. Prior to that we had been flying about for a few minutes in a wonderful moonlit night ,a great memory.We found the missing climbers but they had to be taken out by a Sea King as the Wessex was away refuelling. The Wessex was a rudimentery workhorse but it did the job that night and I am sure there are three persons walking about Scotland this day that would not be alive without the actions of the Wessex that night.
Phil Williams, e-mail, 24.09.2013 04:15
I was an ABATA with RAN working on Wessex 31Bs .1971 to 1977.Does anyone know the main rotor blade weight? Would appreciate any answers.
Phil Williams, e-mail, 24.09.2013 04:10
I was an ABATA with RAN working on Wessex 31Bs .1971 to 1977.Does anyone know the main rotor blade weight? Would appreciate any answers.
Ricardo Aramendia, e-mail, 06.05.2013 05:23
Need a Wessex helicopter to buy contact 504 99855793
Colin Coombs, e-mail, 24.04.2013 18:27
At the latter end of my apprenticeship with WHL Yeovil I worked on the early Wessex Mk.1's,726,727,728etc. I think at that time the Napier Gazelle was started by external air bottles although shortly after the IPN starters were fitted. Changing a hot starter was no joke but not as bad as rigging the throttle box! Two years later I joined "D"sqdn. at A&AEE Boscombe Down where in the Spring of 1963 Wessex HC2,XR588 arrived for trials work. Following extensive instrumentation & the fitting of overload fuel tanks she flew to RAF IDRIS Libya for tropical trials. I recall that a Bucaneer was in the same hanger but it departed not long after we arrived.We had a very busy time with 588 with many problems. Our pilot was the late "Great"Flt.Lt. Charlie Verry.Charles Verry had an Aston Martin DB2. We suffered a lot of problems with erosion both on the main & tail rotor blades and also on the back stages of the compresssor resulting in many engine changes. Our mottoes were "Everything in our favour is against us & "All day & half the night".On our return to Boscombe we then prepared 588 for altitude trials at Chambery in the French Alps. After these trials 588 was used for towing trials on Salisbury Plain in conjuction with the Army. The pilot being Lt.Dave Creamer RN. Another great character (as all our pilots were), after having been through ETPS.I think I worked on 588 (A/E)for nearly 3 years & she has always had a place in my heart, WHAT A GAL!! In 1966 I went to Idris again this time with HC2 XR503, trying out the new nose door.After that it was off to Norway for icing trials. Another Wessex 2 in my heart was XT 679 with which I went to Mariagne for navigation trials. 679 was given the name of Pluto. Ialso worked on several Mk.5 Wessex,XS482 & 484 going to Canada, Norway,Denmark & Aberporth Wales ontrials work. Those were the days.
Dave Philpot, e-mail, 22.03.2013 21:41
I served on 845NAS 1969-71, 847NAS 1971 and 848NAS -971-1972 as a LA SE on HMS Bulwalk (845) Albion (845 & 848),RNAS Sembawang (847) and HMS Intrepid (847). I was ashore in Cyprus when Vic Warrington's aircraft crashed. I also remember the death of Jerry Vilku mentioned above. Much respect to Jamie Bauld above who I servrd with on 845NAS
Tim Watkin, e-mail, 24.02.2013 03:03
I was a pinky Tiff on both 707 NAS and then on a reformed 848 as part of a detached flight during the Falklands in '82. I always wondered if Bristow's or the FAA supplied the cabs for 'Full Metal Jacket'
J Gwynfor Jones, e-mail, 13.01.2013 14:38
I was the killick S.E. on 848 sqd from 11/69- 01/72 and we lost an aircrewman who was a Sikh by the name of Jerry Vilku in a Wessex 5 in Culdrose in 1970. It crashed into the sea
William Gray, e-mail, 07.11.2012 14:09
Hello, I am a student at the University of Liverpool studying Aerospace Engineering. I am currently doing my 3rd year project, it is on the simulation of a Westland Wessex. I am wondering whether anyone has any data on the rotorcraft, for example mass distributions, centre of gravity, blade twists, any technical data which could aid me in creating a simulation with high fidelity. Thanks a lot. Will
Simon Dobbins, e-mail, 03.05.2012 17:21
I have two framed picures of XR524 for sale on ebay if anybody is interested they are water damaged slightly but are nice pictures
Mark Shurmer, e-mail, 16.01.2012 21:21
I was aircrew on 1's and 5's between '74 and'80. 707 and 846 sqdns and DNR Display flight in 1978. Terrific aircraft with great reliability and very versatile in the SAR and Commando role. In answer to Mark Wolff above you could just about lift a 1 ton landrover if you were flying on fumes and into a decent wind. Great times. Hi to Al Cole and Jamie Bauld above. Jamie, Kieth March sends regards
steve jones, e-mail, 11.01.2012 00:33
Hi Al, I noticed you said a mk5 killed someone,well I know of another.I have server on mk3s(737)and finnished on mk5 at 772 at RNAS Portland,and remember I think in 1986 that a aircraft handler tripped over his laces and the pilot main wheel ran over him and he died later on of his injuries.I did the DNR flight for the RM Commando Display Team from 772 in 86 and had a great time and loved the old bird for many of its faults!!
Vic Warrington, e-mail, 01.01.2012 04:11
Just noticed your comment. The Wessex did kill someone:
XT774: I was crewman onboard Wessex HU Mk5 XT774: 845 Sqn, whilst landing underslung trailer on deck Of HMS Bulwark R08 off Cyprus. Lost power, heavy landing, entered ground resonance, port undercarriage collapsed, a/c rolled onto port side, A/B AB Hughes killed by debris and A/B W Willis injured, Bulwark off Cyprus, Cat HY 17may69 (S/L DP Dixon and PO VS Warrington).
Vic Warrington, e-mail, 01.01.2012 04:07
I flew in the WX5 from 67 until 76. Only crashed properly once! Not counting numerous Bird strikes, Engine failures and Wire strikes.
Al Cole, e-mail, 26.12.2011 23:49
The best thing about the Wessex 5 is that it never killed anybody! I was a grubber and local aircrewman, on the IFTU in the 60's; which became 848 in Albion and Borneo. I was then a (qualified) Aircrewman on 847 at Sembawang before getting commissioned and completing pilot flying training. Not surprisingly I became a Jungly and spent most of the rest of my time flying - you guessed it - Wessex 5s all over the world! Over 20-years with this aircraft, which I loved to bits.
Peter Behenna, e-mail, 18.12.2011 23:07
What type of helicoptor was used in the film "FULL METAL JACKET" where Marines being dropped off in the field in Viet Nam. Did Marine helicopter squardrons ever operate this type of aircraft?
Clive Hollins, e-mail, 21.11.2011 12:09
My apologies, A slip of the finger. Of course it was 845 Sqdn on the Albion. My confusion was that I was on the Albion twice. Once when it was a fixed wing carrier with 849C flight. At that time Albion carried Venoms,Seahawks, ASR Whirlwinds and Skyraiders. I believe that was the last fixed wing commission. After that I was posted to Boscombe down, Lee-on-Solent on courses then Brawdy. From there I went down to Culdrose again to the Wessex 845 Sqdn and back on the Albion for that little "Police Action" in the Far East. I was led to believe we would be doing anti submarine duties, but almost as soon as we formed up the ground crew personnel were asked to become aircrew as well as normal duties. The rest you know.
Neil "The Noo" Chandler, e-mail, 26.05.2011 09:58
Flew in the "5" as an aircrewman like Jamie above and was never let down. From Korea, Australia and South Africa to Norway (who could ever forget Clockwork!!) and the Med. Even Florida, Virgin Islands and Rockall. An amazing aircraft which has left many happy memories
Sue Hobbs, e-mail, 24.03.2011 23:05
I belong to an ATC sqn that has a wessex hu mk5. We need new wheels and tyres. Anyone know where we can get some?
Nigel Toms, e-mail, 03.03.2011 23:47
i trained and worked on mk 1/3/and 5s as a smelly then transferred to aircrewman and again flew mk1/3 and 5s before moving onto seakings/wasp etc . lovely aircraft and great fun climbing out onto the outside and climbing up to direct the pilot when speechless winching , health and safety would never allow that now
Jamie Bauld, e-mail, 23.11.2010 17:08
I had about 4 thousand hours flying in this aircraft on 814.826 sqdns royal navy and Ark Royal SAR Flight until the ship returned to Devonport to be scrapped and the last remaining Sqdn of wessex1 ,771 at Culdrose changed over to the twin engined version they had remained with the wessex1 as back up for Ark Royal SAR Flight very happy days and fond memories of ths lovely aircraft
alan thompson, e-mail, 03.11.2010 16:16
The only two squadrons on hms albion 1962-64 was 845 with Wessex and 846 with Whirlwinds. I was on 845 for the whole of that commission as a Armourer. The Wessex were armed with four .303 browning machine guns, two each side on platforms over the wheels. Also a gpmg mounted in the doorway. We also had in the last year SS 11 missiles one each side The above version is wrong
anthony cooper, e-mail, 03.10.2010 16:45
What a lovely helicopter we used g-aync in the film full metal jacket in all 43 flying hours she was showing her age though and needed some tlc however that and the whirlwind series 3 take some beating
peter weare, e-mail, 18.05.2010 07:58
I served on 707 at yeovilton after basic training. As they say, the only replacement for a Wx V is another Wx V!! I served as a smelly and in later years, after transferring to aircrew, flew on 771 (CU), 772 (PO)and Lee SAR. Does anyone know what happened to the Green Parrots which were based at Lee?
steve tingle, e-mail, 07.09.2009 20:05
I was an electrician on wessex v joining 846 sqdn in 1970 at culdrose until the squadron combined with 848 for the troop withdrawl from Malta in 1972 the squadron moved to yeovilton at this point i joined 848 which stayed at culdroseuntill thier embarkation onto Bulwark and mederterainian duties leaving 848 in 1973
Ali Brown, e-mail, 26.04.2009 06:58
After a rock climbing accident while serving on the RAF Leuchars MRT I was rescued by a Wessex from Leuchars and rushed to Glasgow hospital. I had brain surgery and lost a leg (smashed ankle & gangene). IXR524 was it's 'sister' back in Feb 1992 when I had my fall. I've a framed photo of XR524 flying over the Cuillins of Skye that came with me from Scotland. If anyone has A/C number or photos please email me for a chat. Flt Sgt Adrian Osborne was the Loady on that particular job. I punched him as he put me in the crib stretcher 'cause I was in so much pain! live in Canada now but that helicopter gave me, well, it gave me a second chance in life.
mutang Paturan, e-mail, 27.03.2009 05:12
I loved those choppers! I was a young boy when a squadron of them was station at Bario during the confrontation with Indenesia. I had my first helicopter flight in a Whirlwind though.
rick riley, e-mail, 08.01.2009 00:06
re Clive Hollins version of events, quite untrue, 849 nas at this period had just finished changing over from Sky Raider to Gannet aircraft and were the fixed wing variety!and used for Early Warning and COD duties.Now he may have been on 846NAS which was at Singapore when we in 815 first visited with our Wessax 1's 846 were using Whirlwinds. and then there was the other Commando squadro 845 so which one were you on shippmate?
wayne stone house wayne stonehouse, e-mail, 10.07.2008 20:23
Mark Wolff, e-mail, 31.01.2008 17:28
How much can it carry on external load
Clive Hollins, e-mail, 10.10.2007 21:15
Just read your write up on the Wessex. You say ".....848 Squadrons. The first of these to commission, in July 1961, was No.815; the Wessexes of No.848 Squadron were for commando assault duties aboard H.M.S. Albion, having the ASW gear removed to make room for 16 troops or 8 stretchers and a medical attendant in the main cabin."
In fact it wasn't 848 Sqdn on the Albion it was 849 Sqdn and although you are right about the AS gear being removed, we were never equipped for stretchers, only seating for the troops. The aircrew (of which I was one) were all volunteers combining ground duties with flying as cabin crew. We were trained in SAR, basic navigation and close combat weapons use, Although I do recall doing trials in Borneo of dropping hand grenades and mounting a machine gun in the open doorway with a sand bag 'emplacement' across the door! All my stretcher cases were on the floor of the helicopter, walking wounded sat on the seats on the port side of the cabin,very dead bodies (of the enemy I might add)were put as far aft as safe for the c of g of the aircraft and I breathed exhaust fumes rather than the stench.