The Saunders-Roe Skeeter was a post-war British helicopter with a protracted development, but, as Malcolm V Lowe explains, it blazed a trail through its design and British Army employment

Among the pioneers of rotarywing evolution was Juan de la Cierva who, although Spanishborn, was to play an important role in Britain’s early helicopter industry. Towards the end of World War Two and immediately after the cessation of hostilities, the company that bore his name began formulating several helicopter designs. Important among these was a two-seater for possible military use. Designated the W.14, this eventually transformed into the Skeeter family, and the type became pivotal in the establishment of frontline ‘chopper’ training and operations in the British Army.

The first Skeeter built by Saunders-Roe following its take-over of Cierva during 1951 was WF112, seen here wearing a prototype ‘P’ marking. It was a Mk.3 and underwent various development work and early service trials. KEY COLLECTION


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