Wessex HC2

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1 year

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Good morning all, This is my first post here and I'm hoping you may be able to resolve a couple of Wessex related questions I have. In fact I have rather a lot of them but more of that later. While doing some research on SAR Wessex I came across two aircraft which are clearly ex-SH cabs painted up in SAR Yellow; XR498 currently residing at Cosford and XR528 which has found sanctuary at Morayvia in Scotland. Of the two I think XR498 colour change will be most straightforward to explain as I think it was destined to be a gate guard at St. Mawgan (I found a couple of photos of it freshly painted from June, 2016 and it seems to have arrived at Cosford in May 2017) but why choose an ex-72 Sqn SH cab? I have evidence of it being coded 'X' in 1999 but what happened to it after it retired? XR528 is a bit more complex as it seems to have been all round the houses since being retired.
  1. 72 Sqn/T Mar 1989 to Mar 1997 (but it also appears with 60 Sqn markings in September, 1996)
  2. W.S.F./H.M.F. by January, 1998
  3. G.I. St Mawgan by March, 1998
  4. A2711/DD G.I. Culdrose March, 2001
  5. H.M.S. Sultan 2002
  6. Lyneham February 2007 to Fire Dump May 2007
  7. S.O.C. December, 2008
  8. Little Rissington approx 2011 to January, 2017
  9. Morayvia thereafter.
In fact it has had a pretty miraculous escape all things considered. The info is just patched together off the internet so don't take it as gospel. I'm thinking that it turned yellow at St. Mawgan somewhere between 1998 and 2001. Does anyone have any information about this period? I have a pet theory that the recently retired ex-22 Squadron aircraft were put in storage and would have been reactivated in the event of an event of sufficient magnitude to warrant their return for casevac or something similar . This would mean that only the ex-SH airframes were available for things such as instructional duties and gate guards. Obviously this may be total nonsense..... I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks, Tramatoa
Original post

Member for

13 years 1 month

Posts: 9,689

When was the Wessex last used in the SAR role (about the time the last batch of Sea King HAR were delivered? Edit: 1996) and what happened to the airframes when they were retired? Those that weren't scrapped or sold abroad may already have made it into museums? I'm guessing your answer is no more complicated, as you suggest, that the availability of 'fresher' airframes being released as they were retired from active-duty or from 'secure' storage? Apart from the obvious colour-scheme and winch, what (external) differences are there between a 'HC' and a 'HAR' Wessex?

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15 years 9 months

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Nearly all of the SAR and SH Wessex were flown to Fleetlands for storage between 1996 and 1998 (I was there) with some (including the 2 FTS aircraft and finally the 84 Sqn aircraft) to Shawbury up to 2003. There was never any intentions to reactivate them as far as I know. XR498 went to Shawbury while XR528 went direct to St.Mawgan as a GI airframe. St.Mawgan had a penchant for painting their GI airframes yellow, such as ex-RN Sea King XV709.

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10 years 1 month

Posts: 44

Tramatoa Here is what Morayvia know about XR528 at the moment. If anyone can add any further info it would be appreciated.
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[TD]Westland Wessex HC Mk2 XR528
Construction Number WA/150
04/11/64 First Flight
10/12/64 Delivered to RAF
07/06/65 Shipped to Aden to join 78 Sqn RAF Khormaksar reportedly Coded F
25/11/67 Shipped to RAF Sharjah on HMS Intrepid arrived 04/12/67 to rejoin 78 Sqn
04/02/70 Airfreighted to UK arrived 15 MU RAF Wroughton for overhaul
18/09/71 Reported as being Coded BZ at Abingdon BofB Airshow probably operating with 38 Gp Air Training Sqn
31/07/79 Noted aboard RFA Bacchus in Portsmouth Harbour Coded BZ operating with 72 Sqn
1979-08/87 RAF Sek Kong 28 Sqn coded A
03/87 Departed Sek Kong (still as 'A' with 28 Sqn) for survey work in Australia (with XR527/C) arriving at
Webb Dock Melbourne Victoria on 09/04/87 aboard container ship 'Asian Pearl'. After reassembly both
were flown to Laverton on 14/04/87 and onwards to Edinburgh SA two days later. Survey work took place
at the Atomic bomb test area at Maralinga SA and lasted around 3 months; thereafter both machines
were returned to the UK
15/11/87 RAF Benson into the care of the Wessex Servicing Flight.
01/95 XR528 was one of the Wessex on the strength of 72 Sqn which was given a name to commemorate those
carried by the Sqn's Spitfires in WW2. XR528 was coded 'T' and had the name 'The Pride of Newport'
painted on the cabin door
10/09/96 60 Sqn Benson coded T
05/97 72 Sqn coded T
07/97 Painted Yellow by RAF St Mawgan painters but never used as a SAR helicopter
03/98 RAF St Mawgan as GI aircraft
03/01 RNAS Culdrose for use by SFDO/School of Flight Deck Operations and allocated 'A2711/DD'
23/02/06 HMS Sultan Gosport for instructional use with Air Engineering & Survival School/AESS
(Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering).
01/07 RAF Lyneham and by 05/07 was in use with the Fire Section for crash rescue training.
06/11 Left RAF Lyneham for Little Rissington for use as a SERE trainer
16/08/17 By road to new owner Morayvia Kinloss Moray
[/TD]
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13 years

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18/09/71 Reported as being Coded BZ at Abingdon BofB Airshow probably operating with 38 Gp Air Training Sqn 31/07/79 Noted aboard RFA Bacchus in Portsmouth Harbour, Coded BZ operating with 72 Sqn
It was a 240 OCU cab, I used to work on her, 72 Sqn at the time were all coded Alpha..... 18 Sqn in Germany were Bravo's and the OCU in the UK were Bravo's as with being in different countries you wouldn't get a mix up. Xr528 in HK https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...8Sqn_1983.jpeg With 60 Sqn https://abpic.co.uk/pictures/registration/XR528 72 sqn https://www.aviationphotocompany.com...9AD4#h2f28ae65

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13 years

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Apart from the obvious colour-scheme and winch, what (external) differences are there between a 'HC' and a 'HAR' Wessex?
All Wessex had winches, they were removed and fitted dependent on role, such as trooping, but generally the winch was a standard fit, Most HAR tended to have the step removed and you could get caught up in it when winching, they also had a removable rubber cabin liner to protect it from salt water, I think there might have been an extra external light but don't quote me on that and some had the SACRU removed. It's been a while, as for schemes, often done for training , gate guard duties with a SAR unit or simply for a show, take Newark's Wessex, the nose door in red is incorrect, it was simply shoved on from stock so it had a serviceable door on it./
Profile picture for user wessex boy

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14 years 2 months

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All Cabs had an external light that could be controlled by the Captain with a joystick on either the collective or Cyclic (memory is hazy) The Shawbury cabs had the winches removed but we had a gantry for attaching a Rope for roping or abseiling, we also had the step so we could pose efficiently. I don't know the histories of the cabs above, join the Westland Helicopter group on Facebook, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience there
Profile picture for user Sabrejet

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9 years 8 months

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Cab? Not in my day. A modern term?

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13 years 1 month

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I thought it was a Fleet Air Arm thing (although obviously not); I've heard it applied to Sea Harriers and ship-borne helicopters during the Falklands Conflict, so not a 'modern term' now, but I'm sure it pre-dates that!
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Cab? Not in my day. A modern term?
We called them Cabs in person and Buses on the radio (Army Voice procedures for Ops channel) in the late '80s
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Not a RAF thing then: that explains it. We used 'Walter' most/all of the time. 'Cab' sounds like a NATO Potato/Cabbage Militaire term.
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Yes RAF, and they still the term used today at Odiham/Benson, we never called them 'Walters' could be a squadron thing, when were you on them? I clealry remember the CO at Shawbury coming into the crew room to grab a couple of instructors one morning saying "We've got to send 3 cabs to Lockerbie...." (Not a good mission unfortunately)

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13 years

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All Cabs had an external light that could be controlled by the Captain with a joystick on either the collective or Cyclic (memory is hazy) The Shawbury cabs had the winches removed but we had a gantry for attaching a Rope for roping or abseiling, we also had the step so we could pose efficiently. I don't know the histories of the cabs above, join the Westland Helicopter group on Facebook, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience there
I seem to think the SAR cabs had an extra external light aft of the cabin underneath that shone fwd and down, the landing light could as you say be controlled from the stick, plus a light for the winch operator to see the cable and also some on the legs.

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Profile picture for user Sabrejet

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Yes RAF, and they still the term used today at Odiham/Benson, we never called them 'Walters' could be a squadron thing, when were you on them? I clealry remember the CO at Shawbury coming into the crew room to grab a couple of instructors one morning saying "We've got to send 3 cabs to Lockerbie...." (Not a good mission unfortunately)
22 SnAR. :)
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Cab? Not in my day. A modern term?
in use at least from ‘86 onwards.
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1 year

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Thanks for the information regarding the aircraft, it seems to make sense that they were painted at St Mawgan as they would have had large stocks of SAR yellow paint to hand. I can imagine the painters would probably have sprayed the hangar cat yellow if it sat still for long enough. Still, I was surprised at how early this happened. Looking at the history of XR498 it is nothing short of miraculous that it’s still in one piece and it seems to have continued its lucky streak in finding its way to Morayvia where it is finally getting a bit of TLC. Nimgen, thanks for taking the time to post, I’’’d never heard of SERE, but it explains some of the comments from its time at Little Rissington about occasional visits and quantities of bullet cases lying around on the floor.
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As an aside, I was on Wessex from 1986 to 1991 and the term ‘cab’ was only used to describe SH aircraft, as in my first post. I never heard it used on 22 Sqn. Walter would be used in the singular, more than one Wessex and you would use the term ‘Wessii’ which is a very old way of describing plural units from the RFC usage of Albatrii (possibly from schoolboy Latin). I never heard anyone use Wessexes or the like. A Sea King was just a Sea King although their personnel were known as ‘Queenies’, a Chinook was a ‘Wokka’ or a ‘Portaloo’ and a Puma was just a French thing with rotors that went the wrong way round. Hope that’s cleared that up..........