Corgi AA37607 Royal Navy Westland Wessex HU.5 Helicopter - XT474, 771 NAS, RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall, 1979 (1:72 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The Westland Wessex is a turbine-powered version of the Sikorsky S-58 "Choctaw", developed under license by Westland Aircraft, initially for the Royal Navy, but later for the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Wessex was built at Westland's factory at Yeovil in Somerset. The name Wessex had also been used for a fixed wing light transport of 1930, a modification of the Westland IV.
The first Wessex, a HAS.1 flew in 1958, and they entered anti-submarine duties in 1961 with the Royal Navy. Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm anti-submarine examples (HAS Mk.1, HAS Mk.3) used the Napier Gazelle engine, a turboprop engine developed into a turboshaft. This made the Wessex the first helicopter to have a free-power turbine, where the power shaft is not physically connected to the compressor shaft.
The design was adapted in the early 1960s for the RAF, and later Royal Marines, to become a general-purpose helicopter capable of troop-carrying, air ambulance and ground support roles. In contrast with the HAS.1, it used twin Bristol Siddeley Gnome engines (not a free-power turbine). These marks (HC Mk.2, HCC Mk.4, HU Mk.5) had a single large exhaust on each side of the nose, the Gazelle-powered examples having a pair of smaller exhausts on either side.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Royal Navy Westland Wessex HU5 Helicopter assigned to the 771 Naval Air Station. Sold Out!
Rotor Span: 9 inches
Release Date: November 2010
Historical Account: "Soldiering On" - In 1969, 771 Naval Air Squadron re-equipped with the Wessex HAS-1 at Portland; previously they had operated the Whirlwind and ran the Search and Rescue (SAR) Flight together with their responsibility for Fleet requirements of Flag Officer Sea Training.
In 1974, they moved to RNAS Culdrose, where they remain to the present day. In 1979, the Squadron re-equipped with the Wessex HU.5 and was responsible for the SAR commitment from Culdrose. The squadron also provided training for those destined for SAR duties.
The Wessex remained with 771 NAS until it was replaced with the Sea King Mk4 in 1988. Following retirement XT474 was stored for some years at the Fleetlands Air Museum but following its closure in 2001 the aircraft was eventually scrapped in April 2004.