FlyPast Classics: Rotary legend

Malcolm V Lowe describes the development and service of the Westland Wessex helicopter, which represented a leap forward in power and capability for the RAF and Royal Navy

Airframe XM299 was the first of nine pre-production Wessex employed for development flying and many trials associated with the family’s overall programme. It later became the test bed for the Gnome engine installation pioneered for the RAF’s Wessex HC.2.

A growing acceptance of rotorcraft by Britain’s Royal Navy (RN) and RAF emerged in the years following World War Two. One of the established aviation companies that recognised the potential of becoming involved in rotary-wing development and manufacture was Westland Aircraft of Yeovil, Somerset, which created a fruitful relationship with an emerging giant in the new rotorcraft world – the US firm Sikorsky. This led to Westland producing various derivatives of Sikorsky designs, which kept the British military supplied with viable and competent helicopters during the Cold War.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Enjoy the following subscriber only benefits:

  • Unlimited access to all KeyAero content
  • Exclusive in-depth articles and analysis, videos, quizzes added daily
  • A fully searchable archive – boasting hundreds of thousands of pieces of quality aviation content
  • Access to read all our leading aviation magazines online - meaning you can enjoy the likes of FlyPast, Aeroplane Monthly, AirForces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, Aviation News, Airports of the World, PC Pilot and Airliner World - as soon as they leave the editor’s desk.
  • Access on any device- anywhere, anytime
  • Choose from our offers below