First flight 22 Jun 78
Assigned to 22, 78, 202 and 203 Squadron
The Westland WS-61 Sea King is a British licence-built version of the American Sikorsky S-61 helicopter of the same name, built by Westland Helicopters. The aircraft differs considerably from the American version, with Rolls-Royce Gnome engines (derived from the US General Electric T58), British-made anti-submarine warfare systems and a fully computerised flight control system. The Sea King was primarily designed for performing anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions. A Sea King variant was adapted by Westland as troop transport known as the Commando.
In British service, the Westland Sea King provided a wide range of services in both the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. As well as wartime roles in the Falklands War, the Gulf War, the Balkans conflict, the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War, the Sea King is perhaps most well known in its capacity as a Royal Navy Search and Rescue (red and grey livery) and RAF Search and Rescue Force (yellow livery) helicopter. The Sea King was also adapted to meet the Royal Navy’s requirement for a ship-based airborne early warning platform.
XZ597 was one of a small number of Sea Kings to be painted Dark Sea Grey for duty in the post-war Falkland Islands.
Joining the Historic Helicopter team has resulted in this Iconic aircraft being returned to flight and she is now registered with the CAA as G-SKNG. She is currently featuring in the BBC1 Sunday evening drama program “Vigil”. Her sister ship at the HH base G-CMDO will feature in an Apple TV film called Invasion launching on October 22nd.