Constructors Number WA483
First flight 3 Oct 66 by Mr LCE De Vigne
707 Sqn Culdrose (uncoded) 6 Feb 67
848 Sqn (“Z”) by 7 Mar 67
The Westland Wessex was a British-built, turbine-powered development of the Sikorsky S-58/H-34. It was developed and produced under license by Westland Aircraft (later Westland Helicopters). One of the main changes from Sikorsky’s S-58/H-34 was the replacement of the piston-engine powerplant with a turboshaft engine. The Wessex was the first large mass-produced helicopter designed around the use of a gas turbine engine. Early models were powered by a single Napier Gazelle engine, while later builds used a pair of de Havilland Gnome engines.
The Wessex was initially produced for the Royal Navy and later for the Royal Air Force; a limited number of civilian aircraft were also produced, as well as some export sales. The Wessex operated as an anti-submarine warfare and utility helicopter; it is perhaps best recognised for its use as a Search and Rescue helicopter. The type entered operational service in 1961, and had a service life in excess of 40 years before being retired in Britain.
Joining the Historic Helicopters she underwent a 15000 man-hour 24-month restoration to return to flight following over 32 years on the ground.
She flew in the Netflix series the Crown.
Built at Westland Helicopters, Yeovil and first flown on 3 Oct 1966
Helicopter Holding Unit RNAY Fleetlands 20 Oct 1966
707 NAS 6 Feb 1967
NASU RNAS Culdrose 2 Mar 1967
848 NAS 7 Mar 1967
Underslung loadd lost in flight over Salisbury Plain 16 Mar 1967
NASU RNAS Culdrose 22 Mar 1967
RFA Resource Flight 23 May 1967
NASU RNAS Culdrose 6 Jun 1967
848 NAS 4 Sep 1967
HMS Albion 12 Mar 1967
847 NAS 2 Jul 1969
Sembawang 18 Nov 1969
NASU Sembawang 7 Jan 1970
847 NAS 24 Feb 1970
Port engine ran down, precautionary landing HMS Bulwark 4 Mar 1970
NASU Sembawang 15 Apr 1970
847 NAS 19 Oct 1970
NASU Sembawang 23 Feb 1971
848 NAS 10 May 1971
Transmission oil pressure failure, precautionary landing 10 Miles northeast of Brunei tower 20 May 1971
Flotation can cover lost in flight, Desert des Agriates, Corsica 26 Nov 1971
Stbd engine failure prior to landing HMS Bulwark 6 Dec 1972
NASU Yeovilton 9 Jul 1973
848 NAS 4 Aug 1973
Stbd engine throttle runaway up, Vieques, Puerto Rico 11 Feb 1974
NASU Yeovilton 1 Sep 1974
RNAY Fleetlands 17 Dec 1974
848 NAS 15 Jan 1975
RNAY Fleetlands 1 May 1975
NASU Yeovilton 9 Jul 1975
848 NAS 22 Sep 1975
NASU Yeovilton 26 Mar 1976
846 NAS 30 Mar 1976
NASU Yeovilton 27 Jul 1976
771 NAS 1 Jun 1979
845 NAS 6 May 1982; airfreighted from Yeovilton in Heavylift Belfast G-BEPS to Base Flight, Ascension Island arriving 12 May 1982
Returned to UK in RFA Oliver 28 Nov 1983
NASU Yeovilton 19 Dec 1983
RNAY Fleetlands 7 Mar 1985 – for refinish
NASU Yeovilton 3 Apr 1985
Marshalls of Cambridge for refinish 3 Jun 1986
NASU Yeovilton 30 Jun 1986
RNAY Wroughton 6 Jun 1986 (reserve for 771/772 Sqns)
Air Engineering School Lee on Solent by road 12 Apr 1988
Shepperton Film Studios by road 5 Sep 1991
Air Engineering School Lee on Solent by road 9 Sep 1991
Air Engineering & Survival School HMS SULTAN by road 6 Nov 1995
Static display at International Festival of the Sea, Portsmouth 24 Aug 1998
Air Engineering & Survival School HMS SULTAN by road 2 Sep 1998
Dec 2008 allocated to RN Historic Flight Total Flying Hours 2776:05
Sold and transferred to Historic Helicopters on 5 Jul 2017
Successful completion of restoration to flight by Historic Helicopters 15 Feb 2019
The 1970 Bhola Cyclone was a devastating tropical cyclone that struck East Pakistan (later to become The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh) and the State of West Bengal, India on 12 November 1970. It was the deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded, and one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern times. Up to 500,000 people lost their lives in the storm, primarily as a result of the storm surge that flooded much of the low-lying islands of the Ganges Delta. This cyclone was the sixth cyclonic storm of the 1970 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, and also the season’s strongest, reaching a strength equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.
The cyclone formed over the central Bay of Bengal on 8 November and travelled north, intensifying as it did so. It reached its peak with winds of 185 km/h (115 mph) on 12 November and made landfall on the coast of East Pakistan that night. The storm surge devastated many of the offshore islands, wiping out villages and destroying crops throughout the region. In the most severely affected Thana, Tazumuddin, over 45% of the population of 167,000 was killed by the storm.
The exact full death toll will never be known, but it is estimated that between 300,000 and 500,000 people lost their lives.
International aid was dispatched from many countries including ships of the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary. During November and December 1970 HMS Intrepid supported relief efforts in the region.
Anchored in the Bay of Bengal she was constantly sending food, clothing and medical supplies from HMS Triumph and herself to locations ashore, where they were distributed to isolated islands in the Ganges Delta by her LCVP’s and LCM’s. In addition a large number of Assault Boats and Wessex Helicopters of 847 NAS were taken on by HMS Intrepid for the Operation.