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Westland Dragonfly HR.5  705 Sqn FAA,

RNAS Lossiemouth SAR Flight 1961.

Mach 2 - 1/72 with BRITAVIA DECALS

Kits of the Dragonfly (or it’s Sikorsky equivalent) are a little thin on the ground.  This is French company Mach 2’s recent offering, converted to represent an early Royal Navy SAR aircraft.

Early Helicopters……..

Dragonfly,  Sycamore, Wasp, Scout, Whirlwind

The UK version was powered by a 500 Hp Alvis Leonides rotary piston engine, giving it a reasonable margin of power for use as a SAR aircraft.  Fifty one were also used as fast passenger transports, including that owned by British European Airways, who operated the world’s first scheduled helicopter passenger flights.

Dragonflies first saw duty as plane guards, operating from the RN’s carriers.  In this role they effectively replaced an entire escort ship that would otherwise be required to sit aft of the carrier and pick up pilots from any aircraft that crashed into the sea on launch.  Later they were also deployed as local SAR Flights at the RN’s main air stations.

Sikorsky’s S-51 model was one of the world’s first truly practical helicopters, making its first flight in 1943.  In 1946, Westland Aircraft gained a licence to manufacture the S-51 in the UK, thus beginning a long and highly successful link between these two pioneering companies.  Westland named their version the Dragonfly and supplied it mainly to the RN (although the RAF also operated a few), where it replaced the earlier R-4 and R-6 types.

Most Dragonflies were built as the HR.3 variant, with a number of new build improved HR.5s added in the late 1950s.  Most of the earliest HR.1s and HR.3s were eventually converted to HR.5 standard.

Dragonflies remained in service until the mid 1960s, a truly remarkable length of service for what was in effect a first generation helicopter design.

Bristol Sycamore HR Mk.14, 275 Sqn SAR,

RAF Thornaby, 1953.

Glencoe Models 1/72 (own decals)

With its wooden blades and immensely powerful Alvis Leonides piston engine, the Sycamore was one of the first really practical helicopters and continued in service worldwide until the 1970s.

RAF Thornaby was home to one of several RAF detachments pioneering the use of helicopters as SAR platforms, and was also where my father did part of his National Service, working on Sycamores!

Link to Sycamore Build Page

Westland Scout AH.1, 3 Cdo Bgde Air Sqn,
Royal Marines, Falklands 1982.
This is the Airfix kit once more in its (almost) natural state. I added some scratch parts to the engine, plus my own decals and removed the rear doors, but otherwise it is "out the box"

The Westland Scout entered service with the Army Air Corps and Royal Marines 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron in 1963, serving right up until the mid 1990s.
Similar in design to the Naval Wasp, but with a skid undercarriage and non-folding tail, it saw operational service in Borneo, Aden, Oman, Rhodesia, Northern Ireland and the South Atlantic.

Twelve aircraft deployed to the Falklands in 1982, six each with the Royal Marines (3 Cdo Bgde Air Sqn) and Army Air Corps (656 Sqn AAC). Used for casevac, light transport, ammunition resupply and special forces insertions, they played a major part in the operation to recover the islands, including the firing of twelve SS.11 missiles by three Scouts (1xAAC, 2xRM) hovering 100m apart on the ridge overlooking Stanley Racecourse, which successfully destroyed a battery of 105mm Argentine howitzers, bunkers, an ammunition dump and command post.

One Scout aircraft from 3 Cdo Bgde, Scout XT629, became the only Argentine air-to-air combat victory of the war when it was destroyed by cannon fire from 2 Pucaras north of Goose Green on 28th May 1982, resulting in the death of its pilot, Lt Nunn Royal Marines and resulting in severe injuries to his crewman.

Westland Wasp HAS.1 829 Sqn FAA,

HMS RHYL Fishery Protection/Cod War 1978.

This is the Airfix kit with the very nice Airwaves conversion set and Model Art Decals. My first ever flight was in a Wasp, during my initial term at BRNC Dartmouth in 1980. Strapped in to the rather uncomfortable rear bench seat, we took off, flew around a bit, autorotated down to just above the ground (leaving our stomachs behind), then we were winched up and down to the ground. Fantastic!

Link to Build Page

Link to Wasp & Scout Reference Pictures (warning - large files)

The Royal Navy pioneered the use of small ASW helicopters from Frigates with the Westland Wasp, a navalised version of the Army's Scout helicopter, built by the former Fairey Aviation division of Westland. A number of landing gear types were trialled, including skids and suction pads, before settling on four small castored wheels on spindly outriggers, rather like the legs of an insect in flight. Wasps seldom flew with their front cabin doors fitted, as pilots valued the ability to exit the aircraft quickly if it ditched! Later in its career, it sprouted distinctive flotation bags above the doors, which only added to its wasp-like appearance in flight.

This particular aircraft flew fishery protection patrols from HMS RHYL just after the second Cod War between the UK and Iceland, and carries the international Fishery Protection pennant on its side.

Generally a popular and effective aircraft, if woefully lacking in range payload, and safety, the Wasp served the RN well as its primary front line ASW asset from 1964 until 1988. Wasps were capable of carrying a number of weapons types, including French SS11 and AS12 anti-ship wire-guided missiles, or Mk 44 (and later Mk 46) anti-submarine torpedoes. It pioneered the successful MATCH concept (Medium-range Attack by Torpedo Carrying Helicopter), where the weapon carrying helicopter was vectored onto a sonar or radar contact by its parent ship, at a far longer range than the ship's own weapons could reach. The aircraft was also (just) capable of carrying a single Nuclear Depth Bomb, on what would have undoubtedly been a one-way flight.

AS12 armed Wasps from HM Ships PLYMOUTH and ENDURANCE struck and immobilised the Argentine submarine Santa Fe during the 1982 Falklands War.

Westland HAS.22 Whirlwind. Flag Officer Naval Aviation "Admiral's Barge"

781 Sqn FAA, RNAS Lee on Solent, 1961.

Although the HAS.22 was mor epowerful than the HAR.21. It rmeianed woefully short of power reserve in the ASW role.   With the arrival of the HAS.7, a number of aircraft were converted to the VIP transport role.

Airfix, OOB. From the days when we had lots of real Aircraft Carriers and aircraft dedicated to VIPTAX. Gopping colour (by RN Tradition, Admirals write in green ink, thus Admiral's helos are green .......????).

#Dragonfly #Sycamore #Wasp #Scout #Admiral #protector

Westland HAR.1 Whirlwind.

HMS PROTECTOR Antarctic Survey 1956

The ten early HAR.1 Whirlwinds built by Westlands were based on the HO4S US Navy variant, with power provided by a 600 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp rotary engine.  These were found to be badly underpowered and were quickly replaced by the 700 hp Wright Cyclone powered HAR.3.

Nevertheless, they were well suited to the Antarctic Patrol role, embarked in the Ice Patrol Ship HMS PROTECTOR during the late 1950s and early 1960s and painted in a non-standard Black and Orange colour scheme to improve visibility in the snow.

Italeri with scratch conversion and Rotorcraft/home made decals.

The italeri H-19 kit is superbly engineered, but needs quite a few changes to make it into a British machine.

Westland HAR.3 Whirlwind.

HMS ARK ROYAL SAR /Ships Flight 1956

The Whirlwind HAR.3 introduced the more powerful 700 hp Wright Cyclone engine.

Twenty five HAR.3s were built, replacing the Westland Dragonfly in the SAR role ashore and afloat.  Despite the uprated engine, they were still badly underpowered with a limited load capacity in all but very cold weather and were replaced by more powerful, torpedo armed HAS.7 aircraft from 1957 onward, with the last HAR.3s leaving front-line service in around 1963.

The aircraft depicted by this model is XG572 / 971, a HAR.3 used as HMS ARK ROYAL's Plane Guard / SAR aircraft. Delivered in 1955, it was written off after an accident in 1961 near RNAS Culdrose, when the tail struck the ground and became detached.

Airfix with Model Alliance decals and scratch detail improvements. Link to build page

Westland AH.1 Sioux.

40 Commando Air Troop, Royal Marines, Sembawang, Singapore, 1968

The Bell Model 147 H.13 Sioux first flew in 1947, seeing service with the US Army in Korea and Vietnam (subsequently featuring in the well known MASH TV series) and in 1965 Westland began licence production of a variant for British Army and Royal Marines use.  RM Sioux initially served with Commando Air Troops in the far east, seeing action during the so-called Indonesian Confrontation and based out of Sembawang Air Base in Singapore. After returning to the UK in 1971 the Air Troops were combined into 3 Cdo Air Brigade, flying out of RM Coypool in Plymouth, until they were replaced by Westland Scout AH.1s  in 1974.

Italeri with scratch conversion and home made decals.

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Sikorsky R-4B Hoverfly 1, 771 Sqn FAA,

RNAS Portland 1945.

MPM - 1/72 with spare decals

So far as I know this is the only 1/72 injected R-4 kit available.  It’s a typical  early short-run MPM kit, which requires some care and skill to build, especially the vacform cockpit sections.

The R-4 was the first true allied helicopter, undergoing initial trials at sea in 1943. Recognising its potential as an ASW convoy protection weapon, Britain ordered 240 of them for use by the RN and RAF, but with the end of WW2 this order was reduced to 45, most of which went o the Fleet Air Arm.   The US Army and USCG also used R-4s, the former for jungle rescue in Burma and the latter for coastal partols.

Limited in the ASW role by their small payload, precluding a useful weapons load, the RN’s R-4Bs were used in a variety of Fleet Requirements roles (such as radar calibration) and as ASW aircraft until eventually replaced by the much more powerful Dragonfly.

#Hoverfly #HAR3 #Tengah

Sikorsky HAS.21 Whirlwind.

848 Sqn FAA, RNAS Sembawang / RAF Tengah, 1953.

The Whirlwind continued Westland's successful alliance with Sikorsky, partly funded by the US Govt's MDAP programme to assist NATO allies. The first HAR.21 and HAS.22 variants were US built airframes and saw active service in Malaya and as the RN’s first ASW helicopter squadrons.

With these early variants powered by Pratt & Whitney Wasp (HAR.1/21) or Wright Cyclone (HAR.3/HAS.22) piston engines, Westland substituted the British Alvis Leonides engine to produce the ASW torpedo armed HAS.7, which replaced the Fairey Gannet from the late 1950s.

A final naval variant (the HAR.9) was converted from HAS.7s for SAR and Ice Patrol duties, Fitted with a single Rolls Royce Gnome turbine engine, it remained in RN service until 1977.

Airfix with minor modifications and my own decals.  Link to build page