Merlin magic

Three decades on from the first flight of the EH101, Ian Harding visited Leonardo’s Yeovil facility to reflect on the type’s ongoing success, while Tom Williams headed to RAF Valley to see Royal Danish Air Force Merlins in action in the mountains.

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A Royal Navy Merlin HM2 from the now disbanded 829 NAS conducts winch operations on the flight deck of the Type 23 frigate HMS ‘St Albans’. A total of 30 HM1s were upgraded to HM2 standard with a redesigned cockpit and aircraft management computer system, a total rewiring of the aircraft and a new open-architecture tactical mission system. Crown Copyright

Developed in the 1980s as a joint project by the then Westland Helicopters in the UK and Italy’s Agusta, the EH101 (now AW101) Merlin was designed to meet both countries’ requirements for a modern medium-lift naval helicopter to replace the Sea King.

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