The Bristol 173 was the first helicopter specifically designed for commercial operation and passenger transport in particular. The first prototype, which flew on 3 January 1952, was powered by two 520hp Alvis Leonides engines and could carry ten passengers. The tandem rotors were identical to those of the Bristol 171 "Sycamore". Trials were carried out with this aircraft in 1953, from the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle. The second prototype was similar to the first but was modified to test the characteristics and effects of two stub wings and later a four-bladed rotor. The Bristol 173 Mk.3, of which three were built, with capacity increased to 16 seats and Alvis Leonides Major engines, was offered to BEA.
Unfortunately, none of these aircraft succeeded in overcoming a series of developmental problems and subsequent projects undertaken by Bristol ó models 191 and 193 ó in response to Royal Navy and Canadian naval specifications were no more successful. However the Type 192, the prototype of which flew on 5 July 1958, was adopted by the RAF. In the initial configuration, this aircraft had a purely manual system of control and wooden rotor blades but power controls and metal blades were standardized on the fifth prototype built in 1960. That year, three pre-production aircraft were assigned to the RAF for a series of trials for which they were based at Odiham. Twenty-six of these helicopters, called the "Belvedere", were ordered and used for some years for military transport, not only in the United Kingdom, but also in the Middle and Far East. The "Belvedere" was withdrawn from service in March 1969.
The production Bristol 192s had an all-metal, skinned fuselage and an anhedral tailplane, compared with the dihedral one of the Type 173. The two rotors had four metal blades and the front wheels of the fixed quadricycle landing gear were self-castoring. The helicopter's maximum capacity was 30 seats or 2700kg internal payload. The instrumentation also permitted night flying.
G.Apostolo "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Helicopters", 1984
Ship-based development of Type 173 with modified fuselage, u/c etc. Three built but only used for static test.
Production version of Model 191 for RAF use with two cabin windows only, starboard cargo hatch, cargo hoist beneath fuselage, large anhedralled tailplane and powered by two 1465shp Napier Gazelle turboshafts. Prot. XG447 FF 5 Jul. 1958. 26 built.
In July 1958 the Bristol 192 made its maiden flight and this marked the successful climax to the development of the 173. As the Westland Belvedere this entered service with the Royal Air Force, though this was only after the 191 and 193 had been cancelled by the RAF and Royal Canadian Air Force respectively. The 192 was powered by two Napier Gazelle Series 2 engines derated to 920shp.
As the 192C it was tested by BEA and offered its 24 passengers a unique high-speed service between London and Paris.
On May 30, 1961, C T D Hosegood flew from London to Paris in 1 hour 41 min 28 sec and on June 2, 1961, from Paris to London in 1 hour 40 mm 55 sec. This is the equivalent of 202.32km/h outwards and 203.51 km/h on the return flight.
Bill Gunston "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Commercial Aircraft", 1980
Technical data for Bristol "Belvedere" HC.1
Engine: 2 x Napier Gazelle N.Ga.2 turboshafts, rated at 1092kW,
rotor diameter: 14.91m,
length with rotors turning: 27.36m,
max take-off weight: 9072kg,
empty weight: 5277kg,
max cruising speed: 222km/h,
service ceiling: 5275m,
range with 2722kg payload: 122km
|Nina duncan, e-mail, 10.02.2015|
My dad Ken halls..known as noddy to some was flight set on these.we were stationed at seleter and lived there for 3 wonderful years.my father sadly passed away 3 years ago..can anyone remember him?
|Ian Wilson, e-mail, 27.08.2014|
See earlier message, however e-mail address has changed. If Alex Crawford reads this and is still looking for info concerning maintenance at Kuching or in the field on ops eg.Simmangang and Sibu during the Confrontation. Putting fires out during engine start Avpin and cartridge system. Looking back thank goodness a war with no bbc or cnn around. We got on with the job in hand, non of the - please sir can we shoot back. Never had use my skills with the SLRs etc. Ian
|Reg Austin, e-mail, 25.03.2014|
I was a member of the design team under Raoul Hafner at Bristol Helicopters. People confuse the Type 173 and Type 192, Belvedere. The Belvedere was of almost twice the 10,000lb All Up Weight of the 173. The 173 was scheduled to have 2 Bristol Janus, 800 bhp engines but UK government stopped their development. With the temporary installation of two Alvis Leonides piston engines of only 550 bhp, the aircraft was underpowered and so, understandably, BEA cancelled their order for them.
The Belvedere was initially designed to use a Rover Neptune APU to start the engines and run ground services but the government again interfered and insisted, much against our advice, on our using the Av Pin starters for the 1,650 shp Napier Gazelles. It was these which caused the explosions which caused the two crashes of the Belvederes and loss of life. Sadly inept interference by technology-ignorant government officials finally killed off the British Industry and resulted in so many of our experienced aircraft people joining USA, French and German companies from whom we now import our aircraft!
|Montgomery, e-mail, 02.12.2013|
Was only in this chopper once.think 1965/66 Borneo argylls,,what really put me of that one comment was mad,o that is the widow maker.fk.crapping myself but where we were toning we made it,
|Alex Crawford, e-mail, 15.09.2013|
I am gathering material for a book on the Belvedere HC1 helicopter. I would like to hear from anyone who flew or maintained these helicopters in the field. Any help would be appreciated.
|Martin Bastick, e-mail, 13.05.2013|
I served as a Fld Amb dental officer in Brunei early 1962.I did Heart & Minds in the 5th Div.close to the Indonesian border.In May when pulling out teeth at Long Samado the headman at Long Pa Sia invited me to his longhouse- it was a fair hike. On arrival they had been Christianised - so no grog and topless dancing. Left early next day returning to Long Semado. The Belvedere calling at Long Pa Sia crashed killing all aboard @ 16 including 3 vital SAS , heard the explosion -"Jesus Saves".
|Dodger Noonan, e-mail, 29.01.2013|
During an exercise in Malaysia in 1966-67, Belvederes were tasked to move Landrovers and guns of 'A' Field Battery, RAA. One of these Belvederes had an engine blow up (literally, quite a loud bang). I was doing air traffic control liaison at the time and heard the pilot say "We've lost an engine, have to drop the load", and he released the underslung Landrover which pancaked from about 200 feet onto a flat piece of ground. The Belvedere landed safely, but the Landrover was flattened down to about 2 feet high. Wheels were horizontal, radio batteries were through the floor, radios were through the top of the batteries, not much was salvageable. We told the driver it was a "Member To Pay" event as he was responsible for the Landrover. Wish I could have recorded his response.
|Chris Bousher, e-mail, 23.10.2012|
I was in Aden between '63 and '65 where my dad (M.Plt Stan Bousher) was a Belvedere pilot on 26 sqdn. He was injured in an avpin explosion at Khormaksar in 1964. There is an authoritative book on the introduction of helicopters into the RAF, including lots of stuff about the Belvedere - 'RAF Helicopters - the first twenty years' by W.Cdr John Dowling (isbn 0-11-772725-3). Out of print now but I got a copy via Amazon. Well worth tracking it down if you're an anorak about these things like me.
|Shona Berrisford, e-mail, 15.07.2012|
My father M/plt AT Davidson flew these in both Singapore and Aden. I have never forgotten the day I watched one drop out of the sky from the swimming pool at Khormaksar. Awful!
|Sandra (Chidgey) Arthur, e-mail, 07.02.2012|
My father, Ron AK Chidgey was a radio technician with 66 Sqn from 64-67
He served one year unaccompanied tour in Borneo and then a further 18 months in Singapore . I have a photo of 5 belevderes in formation taken on 12 April 1965. I writing a junior fiction book based on my days experience in Borneo and would love to hear from anyone that may have known my Dad or perhaps has any photos or photo of him. Have a number of stories that can share - will post later.
|Mike Brundle, e-mail, 04.02.2012|
My only brother was killed in July 62 along with 5 others, seems just like yesterday
|Dave Branchett, e-mail, 23.01.2012|
I served on 66 Sqdn as a sergeant Engine fitter from 1967 to 1969 when we disbanded. Best tour I ever had, from my first flight I was hooked, and loved the whole thing. Very tricky aircraft to maintain but we revelled in it because we were the only people in the world who had them and the morale was the highest I ever experienced. Any ex 66 from that time please contact me, I'll be chuffed to hear from you.
|Brian Mitchely, e-mail, 18.01.2012|
Hello all, I am really enjoying reading your stories. It sounds like I am surrounded by my Grandfather. Thank you all for your service, and your stories.
|Sim Morrison, e-mail, 19.11.2011|
Anyone recall Belvedere Poem? Around 1965 there was a poem written about the Belvedere and it was in either Air Clues or the local MEAF equivalent. I remember I cried laughing when I read it in Aden, wish I had kept a copy. It was a ditty relating the noise and the way things used to fall off the machine. Anyone got a copy?
|Michael Maylor, e-mail, 12.11.2011|
I remember the crash near Gutersloh in '62 I was 14 back then.It was a lovely day (I was at the the camp outdoor swimming pool) when two Belverdere aircraft passed low over us having just taken off. Minutes later sirens were sounding and RAF chaps running.. My friend and I jumped on our bikes and headed to the crash site not far away.. We could'nt take it in.. everything destroyed of one and the other helicopter parked closeby.A Very Sad Scene.
|kevan stewart, e-mail, 02.08.2011|
I travelled aboard the last belvedere to fly in singapore at the disbandment fly-past of 66 squadron at R.A.F Seletar. This aircraft is the one on display at the R.A.F museum Hendon. I managed to srounge many flights on these aircraft while I was a member of the Air Training Corps based at Seletar until I left in 1970
|shoes, e-mail, 17.06.2011|
I've a nice photo if someone can tell me how to post it.
|Vic Moulder, e-mail, 27.05.2011|
My experience with the Belvedere was back in 1962 or 3 whilst being extracted from an operation on the Malay Thai border area by a RAF Belvedere as an Infantryman with 2ND Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, we the best part of our platoon borded and were flying at night over thick jungle in extremely bad weather when we had to make a emergency landing, the skipper to his credit found a clearing, unfortunately it was occupied by a small Kampong [village] we came down pretty hard doing some damage as I can recollect, eventualy we found trucks and were extracted back to base, the word we had back was that the aircraft had run out of fuel, and that the Flt Sgt had not refueled ? anybody out there have any recollections of this incident ?
|Jimmy Scott, e-mail, 01.04.2011|
72 Sqdn at RAF Odiham was my 1st posting after Boy/Entrant training at RAF St Athan. It was a very exciting time in my life. A brand new aircraft and a chance to be a real mechanic. Jesus, we learned fast!! This was no easy task, even a blade change required team work. I learned a lot, very quickly, and thank the Belvedere for giving me an excellent 'foundation' in Airframe skills.
|Alison Armes, e-mail, 25.03.2011|
My dad was killed in the crash on 30/7/62 his name was Roy Mitchell. I am doing a bit of research on it as it is 50 years next year. If anyone has any information please contact me. Is it true the helicopter had metal fatigue after lifting the spire on Coventry Cathedral?
|Ian Wilson, e-mail, 24.02.2011|
Finally found more on 66 based at Kuching. I served with 66sqdn exactly the same period as Bill France. 12 months in Kuching was something else.
Must have flown on more than 60 flights, blade tracking etc due to vibrations, flights to Bau Lake, Kapit, Sibu, Simmangang etc. Even put 2 fire out on start up lovely stuff Avpn and carts starting system. Even flew down to the docks took the blades off and 3 days at sea (again) Singapore blades on and flew to Seletar. Final trip was in a DH Heron FM-1024 I think 3,5 to Singapore VIP flight. How time flies,finally stopping work in 2012 after 46 years in aviation. Last asignment is here in the Netherlands working for Martinair Engineering. ps Several test flights to 5000feet now that Belvedere flying Bunny Austin was our CO thru thick and thin with him. Years later whilst at Odiham we met again I ended up on 230 sqdn Pumas he was now a WC.
|mike wallace, e-mail, 14.01.2011|
I agree with M Winslow;I have a photo of 11 Belvederes in formation over the Malacca Straits, probably in early 1967.I was on 26 sqdn at Khormaksar(4/4/65 to 15/12/65)then 4 Belvederes were taken to Seletar on board HMS Bulwark arriving shortly before christmas 1965, to join 66Sqdn.I left 66 Sqdn in July 1967 for the UK, after many happy times and a spell in Kuching to boot!!
|john lewis, e-mail, 15.10.2010|
I served with 29 commando in borneo and looked after the pad at gunung gajak had many a belvadier ,s aeriel sitting above my head as it only just fitted onto the pad with its tail hanging over the edge of the hill great times
|John Edwards, e-mail, 30.08.2010|
I can go back a little further than you service men.
I first met the Belvedere when it was still a pile of parts on the bench in Westlands at Weston super Mare.
My first task, together with my companion fitter, was to construct the most complex piece, known as station 0, that was the main mounting for the front undercarriage and the nose joint.
It took a few months and numerous trips to the drawing office but as it was the prototype thatís not surprising.
I went on to do lots of different parts including I put the floor in every single one of the 26 aircraft thatís a lot of rivets.
I moved then to the development department and built the first pilots bubble door, I donít think it was put into production though.
I went on loan to EDL (Electronics Development Laboratory) and built there the slip rings which were mounted on the rotor head for rotor blade strain gauge work and I also mounted instrumentation on the hydraulic jacks in the flying controls to monitor valve movement.
When I joined EDL permanently I balanced all the Rotor synchronizing prop shafts,
Spent many hours watching over the flying controls fatigue rig and doing calibration runs on de-icing jets for rotor blades
The Belvedere was known in the workshops as the Bevelgear
|Mike Brown, e-mail, 11.04.2010|
In Aden (1963/1964) the Belvederes had the next block of buildings to my Shackleton squadron and we provided volunteers to man the waist gpmg's. It was always said that if you saw a Belvedere starting up you watched closely so that in the event of an avpin fire you could be a witness at the inquiry rather than on the Board. Sadly we lost one Belvedere in the Mukeiras area, the others were shipped out to the Far East on one of the carriers.
|Owen O'Mahony, e-mail, 10.02.2010|
I flew the Belvedere with 66 Sqn at Seletar as a first tour pilot from 1967 to disbandment in March 1969. I was also Sqn Adjutant. It was indeed a "widow maker" but I do remember some very interesting and challenging jungle flying particularly taking the RAAF Nurses from Butterworth for regular "Dinghy Drill" to some isolated beach. Several search & rescue missions, the last was finding the 34 Sqn Beverley which crashed on a hilltop in bad weather. The only clue was a broken branch and hole in the tree canopy no more than 6 feet diameter. That was very poignant for me since I knew some of the crew and had flown on Belverleys as an Air Signaller some years earlier. Sadly, there wasn't any well organised Squadron association and everybody disappeared into the "ether"; there were also a few that we didn't need to stay in contact with. There are not many of us left now - I know how to contact three other pilots. Overall - fond memories
|Mick Winslow, e-mail, 22.01.2010|
I served with 66Sqn until disbandment in 1969. Just to put the record straight we did manage to get all 12 aircraft in the air at once, this happened after the 2 belvederes in Kuching returned to Seletar to rejoin 66 Sqn. Just prior to the Sqn disbandant in 1969 we had 11 belvederes in formation flying around Singapore, we should have had all 12 but one let us down with starter problems. It was quite a sight to see, I was a passenger on one of them. The only two places to see a real one are in the Science Museum in Manchester and the RAF Musueum in Hendon.
I have quite a few photos of Belvederes during my 2 year time spend on 66 Sqn.if any one is interested.
|Ken Anderson, e-mail, 10.01.2010|
I served with the Army in Borneo 1965-66. We were reliant on the Belvedere for tasking our Green Archer Radars and Silent Generators around the 1st Div Sarawak.
I've a nice photo if someone can tell me how to post it.
|Richard Knight, e-mail, 23.12.2009|
My dad was a prototype fitter at BAC Weston working on the original 171's (rigs and fliers) then worked on the 192. He was proud to have been a part of the project. He regularly put in 16 and 18 hour days just filing rivets by hand for the first rigs. I still have a few old photos in my attic somewhere
|LES LUCAS, e-mail, 23.12.2009|
I was posted to RAF Odiham to Belvedere Trials Unit before we got the pre prodution aircraft.We flew in the lord Mayor of London show. put steeple on Coventry Cathedral . before going to Singapore. i flew as crewman many times over MALAYSIA . 4 good years with this aircraft
|maurice gibson, e-mail, 03.11.2009|
I was stationed at R A F Seletar from feb,66 to Christmas and
was priviledged to a flight with 66 sqn Belvederes ,Bless em.
I was at Kuching At the time only for about 60 days I had a
great time also at 389/390 m u.I was an acc room waller.
GRD/ELECT.I have some slides .
|Bill France, e-mail, 14.09.2009|
I had the pleasure of working on Belvederes at the SRTCU, RAF Odiham in '65 and on 66 Sqdn at Kuching from Dec '65 thru Dec '66. The occassion for getting 6 into the air was for a fly past to commemorate the squadron's 50th anniversary. The ensuing party was on 2nd July, which was by coincidence my 21st birthday - so a party I remember very well, most of it at any rate. The Belvedere may have been a bit of a dog to work on and it certainly had a reputation, mostly earned from its travails in Aden, but when it was working it was a good solid workhorse. I have many fond memories of those days.
|Olly Holbrook, e-mail, 06.07.2009|
I served with 26 sqdn. detachment at RAF Kuching.Please can we set the record straight.Despite what the RAF says,we were the main body of Ground and air crew @ Kuching in 63/4 with a few 66 and 72 sqdn wallahs.The Belvedere I loved one of 'em even had my last 3 as reg No.476
|Colin A J Bain, e-mail, 05.07.2009|
I flew on the Belvedere helicopter as crewman and managed to complete over 287 flying hours. All the flying was carried out in, Brunei, Labuan and Borneo from 62 to 64. It was a great experience with blades breaking etc. I did loose a few friends especially Johny Williams those whose memorial is in the jungle in North Borneo. I remember fondly of Denise Ottwell who lost his life in Germany. It was an experience to remember especially on ambush positions with the Ghurkas, SAS and 41/42 Marine Commandos at libving at simbang camp in Kuching. Our main task in order of priority when suppliyng the troops in the field were mail first, beer second and food if possible. Anyone out there during 62 to 64?
|Carl Gavin, e-mail, 02.06.2009|
My Dad, Vincent was aircrew on these aircraft in Aden, Mum always said his hair went white overnight because of them. Stories about of pilots starting them with their legas out of the cockpit in case they had to runa away, something to do with the starte cartridges and Magnesium airframes!
|Robbie Burns, e-mail, 03.03.2009|
I served with 22SAS in Borneo and we did not hold "The Widow Maker" in very high esteem due to the fact that one of them crashed in Borneo killing all the command group of a Squadron. It was also persistantly broke down & there were always maintainance problems and we were left hanging about DZs after long ops when it failed to appear. Thank god for the Wessexes and the Whirlewinds...even the occasional Scout. Their performance in Aden wasn't too great either. I usualy tried to position myself at the door or an escape hatch for a quick exit if things went pear shaped, but having said all this it was a Belvedere pilot who performed an amazing bit of airmanship, flying front on into a rock outcrop at right angle on top of a Gunong (mountain) in Malaya he then inched that big machine almost parrallel to the rock with the door facing us where we literaly threw our sick trooper into the arms of the medic and winchman. Our guy was suffering from Leptospirosis and Malaria and had lost about half his body weight it was touch and go survival wise and I believe the Belvedere was the only plane available at the time.He was flown to the nearest local hospital given appropriate treatment and survived...It was a course in slimming I wouldn't recommend, I was his troop medic. Diagnosing his condition confirmrd the quality of medical training we recieved in Hereford.
|Terry B, 08.02.2009|
I was on 66 sqdn in 1966 and I was amused to read Mike Winslows comment, we may have had 12 aircraft but the best we ever managed in the air at the same time was six, if I remember rightly it made local headlines ,six out of six for sixty six or some such nonsense, all that said 66 sqdn was good fun and I was sad to leave.
|Jan Czumaj, e-mail, 17.01.2009|
I lived at Seletar in the 60's ,My Father worked at 390 MU on these Aircraft.From our house no1 Swallow street Seletar we have cinefilm of this helecopter flying near our house as we were near the threshold of the main runway.I remember seeing the shell of one that had caught fire on the runway.Didn't they have problems with the cartridge starter? Happy days with also the Blackburn Beverly that also seen as they approched to land at Seletar.We came home in 1964 by Comet , I later went back to Singapore an served with 103 Squadron as their medic when they went on exercise from Tengah.Happy days.
|Terry Garmonsway, e-mail, 03.01.2009|
I served in Malaysia with 1RNZIR Band based at Terendak Garrison (near Malacca or Melaka) from Dec 1967 to Dec 1969. We also filled the roles of infantrymen, specifically forming a part of what was known as "Headquarters Defence Detatchment" in our Battalion. It was in this capacity that we came into contact with 66 Sqn's Belvederes on "Exercise Crown And Glory" in 1969. We were ferried from a footy field within "Wellington Lines" at Terendak to our destination in these flying sausages. Climbing into a Belvedere with full battle kit, 7 days rations and SLR was a mission in itself with the entry at head height and only a narrow ladder to use in this endeavour. Exiting at our destination in a jungle clearing was another matter after a very uncomfortable flight on a bare, slippery flat floor. The chopper, already perched atop high wheel struts, landed with its forward and aft wheels on small rises in the terrain, but straddling an indenture between the rises. With all that heavy gear we had no option but to jump to the ground, a jump of somewhere around eight to ten feet. That doesn't sound like much when you're looking up but that distance begins to look fearful when you're looking down! Thankfully long grasses helped to cushion our impact with the ground on exiting. This, I am pleased to say, was our only experience with Belvederes. Several months later, in South Vietnam, we flew from Luscombe Field, Nui Dat to a forward firebase, Firebase Discovery, aboard a US Forces Chinook. Although the Belvedere and Chinook both were in development phases around the same time comparisons between the two help to explain why Britain's aero industry ground almost to a halt. But... to your credit, 66, you flew us safely. And I thank you sincerely for that!
|tony p, e-mail, 25.11.2008|
Need help my dad was flying on belvedres in borneo in the 62,63 John Pattinson, With Eddie Lewis. 66sqn Looking for special xmas present,Dad has loads of photo's and will share.
|Mike Ottewell, e-mail, 22.10.2008|
Well to my knowledge this helicopter had some issues. My elder brother lost his life in the accident at RAF Gutterslough, Germany in July 1962. There was another Belverdere lost in Borneo, about the same time.
Looked to be as amazing (or even more) as the CH-47.
If they had go ahead with it,the RAF and the UK Army would be less dependent of USA technology.
|Richard Walker, e-mail, 05.11.2007|
I saw the Belvedere prototype in operation at the BAC airfield at Filton Bristol, and also in subsequent Air Shows at the airfield. Was the Belvedere the first twin rotor helecoptor of this type?
|Derek Hale, e-mail, 22.09.2007|
Working with the Whirlwind Sqn at RAF Kuching as an MTD often went out to Whirlwinds which had made emergency landings normally because of gearbox problems. After the techs had stripped the aircraft of everything possible engine,gearboxes, rotorhead, etc the Belverdere would be able to pickup the stripped aircraft and carry it back to Kuching quite a sight to see a Flying Longhouse as we called them with a Whirlwind as an underslung load.
|leslie frank windsor, e-mail, 24.04.2007|
i flew many times with 66 aircraft at seletar during my time there i was known as the flying rockape as i used to scrounge flights all the time i loved flying in the belvederes and have many happy memories of this brilliant helicopter it never got the recognition it deserved best wishes and thankyou for the memories les w. ex 15 field squadron raf regiment.
|Mick Winslow, e-mail, 19.01.2007|
I served as groundcrew on 66 Sqn, RAF Seletar, Singapore on the last operational Belvedere Sqn from 1967 to its disbandment in 1969. This aircraft was a very difficult aircraft both to maintain and to fly, but proved to be very successfull with the army in Malaya and supported the army on all there major excerices.This was the only heavy lift helicopter in service at that time and 66Sqn operated 12 aircraft until its final disbanbment.
Do you have any comments concerning this aircraft ?
FACTS AND FIGURES
© The first Belvedere suffered noise
and stability problems - rectified by
redesigning the rotor hubs and tailplane.
© On 24 August 1952 the prototype for the
Belvedere series made its maiden flight.
© The prototype was demonstrated at the
Farnborough air show in September 1952.
© British European Airways leased a
Belvedere briefly but never used it in
© The first production aircraft with Gazelte
engines made its initial flight in July 1958.
© The Belvedere had a long career, ending
its RAF service in March 1969.
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