Westland Wessex HU5 XT761

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.