After acquiring a licence in 1956 to manufacture the Sikorsky S-58 helicopter, Westland imported one of these aircraft in HSS-1 configuration. Given the British serial number XL.722, this aircraft was test-flown for a time with its original 1525hp Wright R-1820-84 engine before being modified to accept a 1100shp Napier Gazelle NGa.11 gas turbine. In its new form it was flown for the first time on 17 May 1957, and was later joined by two pre-production Wessex HAS Mk.1's for Naval trials; the first of these flew on 20 June 1958. The HAS Mk.1 went into production in 1959 for the Royal Navy as a submarine search and strike helicopter equipped with dipping Asdic and provision for one or two homing torpedoes. Powered by a 1450shp Gazelle Mk.161 engine, it began service trials with No.700H Flight in April 1960 and has since been delivered to Nos. 706, 737, 771, 815, 819 and 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. Alternatively, a slung load of 1814kg can be suspended from an under-fuselage hook. From January 1967 the Wessex Mk.1's have been joined in service by the HAS Mk.3, which is powered by a 1600shp Gazelle Mk.122, and has an extended rotor head fairing and large dorsal radome. Twenty-seven HAS Mk.31's supplied to Royal Australian Navy since August 1962 are similar to the HAS Mk.1 apart from their 1540shp Gazelle Mk.162 engines.
All other Wessex variants so far announced have two coupled Gnome engines in place of the single Gazelle. These include the RAF's HC Mk.2, flown for the first time in production form on 5 October 1962 and entering service with No.38 Group in February 1964; the Navy's HU Mk.5, for which two orders have been placed and which entered service in summer 1964 as a commando-carrier assault transport; twelve Mk.52's for the Iraqi Air Force, three Mk.53's for the Ghana Air Force, and one Mk.54 for the Brunei government. Seven Wessex Mk.60's have been built for Bristow Helicopters Ltd. These are 10-passenger commercial equivalents of the Mk.2 and operate in support of the oil and gas drilling rigs in the North Sea.
K.Munson "Helicopters And Other Rotorcraft Since 1907", 1968
In 1956, Westland, who held the license to build the Sikorsky S-55, acquired the license for the more modern S-58. The powerplant of the latter was considered unsatisfactory and the British firm began a partial redesigning of the American aircraft to enable a 1100shp Napier Gazelle NGa. 11 turbine to be installed instead of the original 1525hp Wright R-1820-84 radial. Thus transformed, one might have assumed that the helicopter was underpowered, but the nature of turbine engines is such that- it was in fact ideal. The slight loss of power was offset by greater reliability, a reduction in vibration and weight, easier maintenance and a lowering of specific fuel consumption.
The Royal Navy immediately ordered the new helicopter as the Wessex HAS Mk.1, to replace the older Whirlwind HAS Mk.7. The aircraft was basically similar to the Sikorsky S-58, but the nose profile was altered as a result of the installation of the turbine which, in the first production version, was a 1450shp Gazelle NGa.13. Later Wessex (Mk.2 and 5) were powered by twin Rolls-Royce Gnome engines and employed as troop transports. Westland built 356 Wessex in all (including those for the civil market): the HAS Mk.1 version for the Royal Navy; the HC Mk.2 tactical transport version for the RAF; the HAS Mk.3 antisubmarine version with 1550shp Gazelle NGa.18 turbine; the HU. Mk.5 for various roles on the Navy's commando carriers; the HAS Mk.31 for the Royal Australian Navy; the Wessex Mk.52 for the Iraqui Navy (12); the Wessex Mk.53 for Ghana (3); the Wessex Mk.54 for Borneo and the Wessex Mk.60 commercial version.
G.Apostolo "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Helicopters", 1984
The company's success with the Whirlwind led to licence negotiations with Sikorsky to build the S-58, for Westland considered that this somewhat larger helicopter had excellent development potential with the introduction of turbine powerplant. A single example was imported and modified initially by the installation of an 820kW Napier Gazelle NGa.11 turboshaft engine, but the prototype and pre-production examples of the Westland Wessex had as powerplant the 1081kW Napier Gazelle Mk 161. The initial production version for the Royal Navy began to enter service on 4 July 1961, and the type was subsequently built in several variants. In 1993 the Wessex is in service only with No. 22 Sqn, RAF, on SAR duties, and The Queens' Flight at RAF Benson.
Wessex HAS.Mk 1: Royal Navy ASW version with Napier Gazelle Mk 161 powerplant
Wessex HC.Mk 2: high-performance development of Wessex HAS.Mk 1 for the RAF with two coupled Bristol Siddeley Gnome Mk 110/Mk 111 turboshafts, each rated at 1007kW; used primarily as transports (16 troops) or air ambulance (eight stretchers)
Wessex HAS.Mk 3: advanced Royal Navy ASW version with 1193kW Napier Gazelle Mk 165 and a comprehensive automatic flight-control system
Wessex HC.Mk 4: two aircraft as Wessex HC.Mk 2 but with VIP interiors for service with The Queen's Flight
Wessex HU.Mk 5: troop-carrying assault helicopter for the Royal Marine Commandos; similar to Wessex HC.Mk 2
Wessex HAS.Mk 31: 27 built for Royal Australian Navy, similar to Wessex HAS.Mk 1 but with 1174kW Napier Gazelle Mk 162 flat-rated to 1148kW; delivery began in August 1962 and when later given updated ASW systems became redesignated Wessex HAS.Mk 31B
Wessex Mk 52: 12 similar to Wessex HC.Mk 2 for Iraqi air force
Wessex Mk 53: three similar to Wessex HC.Mk 2 for Ghana air force
Wessex Mk 54: one similar to Wessex HC.Mk 2 for service in Brunei
Wessex Mk 60: civil version seating 10 to 16 passengers according to role, 15 survivors in rescue operations, or as an air ambulance can carry eight stretchers, two sitting casualties and a medical attendant
D.Donald "The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft", 1997
The Westland Wessex is a turbine-powered development of the Sikorsky S-58.
Wessex HAS. Mk 1: Initial production version, developed for the Royal Navy, with one 1,450shp Napier Gazelle 161 turboshaft engine. Re-engined with a 1,100shp Gazelle NGa.11, flew for the first time 17 May 1957. Withdrawn from service.
Wessex HC. Mk 2: High-performance development of the Mk 1 with two coupled 1,350shp Bristol Siddeley Gnome Mk 110/111 turboshaft engines. Power limitation of 1,550shp at rotor head. Prototype converted from Wessex 1, flew for the first time 18 January 1962, and the first production model (XR588) 5 October 1962. Still in service.
Wessex Mk 3: Similar to Mk 1, but with 1,850shp Gazelle NGa.18 165 turboshaft engine. Not in service.
Wessex HCC. Mk 4: Queen's Royal Flight helicopter.
Wessex HC. Mk 5: SAR helicopter of the Royal Air Force based in Cyprus.
Wessex HU. Mk 5: Similar to Mk 2, for Commando assault duties from carriers of the Royal Navy. Design work began in April 1962 and construction of the prototype was started in May 1962. In service with A&EE (1) and 84 Squadron Akrotiri Cyprus (5).
Wessex HAS. Mk 31: Generally similar to Mk 1, but with a 1,540shp Gazelle Mk 162 engine. Ordered for the Royal Australian Navy for anti-submarine duties from HMAS Melbourne. Withdrawn from service.
Wessex Mk 52: Similar to Mk 2, for Iraqi Air Force. Withdrawn from service.
Wessex Mk 53: Similar to Mk 2, for Ghana Air Force. Withdrawn from service.
Wessex Mk 60: Civil version in service with Uruguayan Navy.
DESIGN FEATURES: Main and tail rotor each have four blades. Blades attached to hub by taper bolts. Main rotor blades fold manually. Rotor brake fitted. Shaft drive to main rotor through double epicyclic gear. Shaft drive to tail rotor through intermediate and tail gearboxes. Tail end folds to port and forward for stowage. Tail rotor carried at tip of vertical stabilising fin. Small horizontal stabiliser inset in leading-edge of fin.
STRUCTURE: All blades of light-alloy extruded spar and light-alloy bonded trailing-edge structure. The fuselage is a light-alloy semi-monocoque structure, with steel tube support structure for main rotor gearbox.
LANDING GEAR: Non-retractable tailwheel type. All three units fitted with Westland oleo-pneumatic shock-absorber. Dunlop wheels, tyres and hydraulic disc brakes. Tubeless treaded mainwheel tyres, size 6.00 x 11. Tailwheel tyre size 6.00 x 6.
POWER PLANT: (Mk 2): One Bristol Siddeley Gnome Mk 110 and one Gnome Mk 111 turboshaft engines, with Type 10 coupling gearbox. Rated at 1,350 shp per engine; 1,550shp at rotor head. Two flexible fuel tanks under cabin floor, total capacity 1,409 litres. Provision for carrying two 500 litre auxiliary tanks in cabin for ferry purposes. Refuelling point in starboard side of fuselage. Oil capacity 9 litres per engine, 19 litres in main gearbox.
POWER PLANT: (Mk 5): One Bristol Siddeley Gnome Mk 112 and one Gnome Mk 113 turboshaft engines, with Type 11 coupling gearbox. Otherwise as for Mk 2.
ACCOMMODATION: (Mk 2): Crew of one to three according to role. Up to 16 passengers in main cabin, on folding troop seats, or up to eight stretchers in banks of four. Doors on each side of flight deck and on starboard side of cabin.
ACCOMMODATION: (Mk 5): Crew of one to three according to role. Three fixed troop seats, and either 13 removable folding seats or eight stretchers, or 1,814kg of freight.
SYSTEMS: Compressor bleed air for heating. Ambient air circulation by fan. High-pressure hydraulic system for powered flying controls and 272kg capacity hoist. 24V DC electrical system, with two 6kW generators.
Jane's Helicopter Markets and Systems
Technical data for Westland "Wessex" HC.Mk.2
Engine: 2 x Bristol Siddeley "Gnome" Mk.110 or Mk.111 turboshaft, rated at 1007kW,
main rotor diameter: 17.07m,
length with rotors turning: 20.04m,
take-off weight: 6123kg,
empty weight: 3767kg,
max speed: 212km/h,
range with max fuel: 769km
|Ricardo Aramendia, raramendia1=hotmail.com, 06.05.2013|
Need a Wessex helicopter to buy contact 504 99855793
|Colin Coombs, deebo=talktalk.net, 24.04.2013|
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, davephilpot1950=me.com, 22.03.2013|
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, chp_dispatch=ntlworld.com, 24.02.2013|
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, gwynfor47=hotmail.com, 13.01.2013|
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, sgwgray=student.liv.ac.uk, 07.11.2012|
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, simon.dobbins=sky.com, 03.05.2012|
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, mark.shurmer=wanadoo.fr, 16.01.2012|
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, s7eve6\, 11.01.2012|
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, vicfranwarrington=bigpond.com, 01.01.2012|
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, vicfranwarrington=bigpond.com, 01.01.2012|
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, a.cole757=btinternet.com, 26.12.2011|
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, naska44=aol.com, 18.12.2011|
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, m5chh=btinternet.com, 21.11.2011|
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.
|p, myabercrombieandfitch=msn.cn, 11.06.2011|
iam looking to purshase these helicoter wessex.
|Neil "The Noo" Chandler, rail9.sncf=virgin.net, 26.05.2011|
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, sue_hobbs=rocketmail.com, 24.03.2011|
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, nigel.toms=yahoo.co.uk, 03.03.2011|
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, wessex1=hotmail.co.uk, 23.11.2010|
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, lfx951348=aol.com, 03.11.2010|
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, ynot.cooper =yahoo.co.uk, 03.10.2010|
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, peter.weare=bigpond.com, 18.05.2010|
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, diver_steve2000=yahoo.com, 07.09.2009|
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, alibrown=shaw.ca, 26.04.2009|
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, rajaparan=yahoo.com, 27.03.2009|
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, randm.3=netzero.com, 08.01.2009|
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, waynestonehouse, 10.07.2008|
|Mark Wolff, mark.wolff-donitz=soilsco.uk, 31.01.2008|
How much can it carry on external load
|Clive Hollins, m5chh=btinternet.com, 10.10.2007|
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.
|RICARDO ARAMENDIA, raramendia=hotmail.com, 29.09.2007|
iam looking to purshase these helicoter wessex.
Do you have any comments concerning this aircraft ?
FACTS AND FIGURES
© Australia's navy flew 27 Wessex
helicopters on anti-submarine duties
starting in August 1962.
© Westland's first prototype, a rebuilt
Sikorsky S-58, flew on 17 May 1957.
© Users of the versatile Wessex include
Australia, Brunei, Ghana and Iraq.
© The Wessex had top priority and in 1960
Westland halted work on a larger
© A Wessex fired AS.12 missiles at an
Argentine commander in the Falklands.
© Australia's Wessexes used Gazelle
engines instead of coupled Gnomes.
All the World's Rotorcraft
Virtual Aircraft Museum