16 April 2018: Haynes Publishing is this month releasing a new manual which looks at the Westland Wessex helicopter – the mainstay of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force’s rotary-wing inventory throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The Westland Wessex Manual provides a unique insight into operating, flying and maintaining the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force’s HAS Mk. 1, HC Mk. 2, HAS Mk. 3, HCC Mk 4 and HU Mk. 5 variants of this most ubiquitous and fondly regarded of helicopters, which has earned its rightful place in the history books.
Acquiring an array of affectionate nicknames during its 44 years of service such as ‘The Westland Fun Bus’, ‘Walter’ and ‘Flying Palm Tree’, the rugged, charismatic and versatile Westland Wessex served with distinction for both the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force during this time.
Loved by all who flew and maintained it, this robust and adaptable helicopter certainly had longevity when it came to flying. Indeed, a few examples of the Westland Wessex were still in use well into the first few years of the 21st century. The final Wessex in British military use was retired from the RAF in 2003 after 43 years of service.
Talking about the highly revered helicopter, author Lee Howard commented: “As the third of four helicopter designs anglicised and built under licence from Sikorsky by Westland Aircraft Ltd (later Westland Helicopters Ltd) of Yeovil, the Westland Wessex was originally intended as an aerial platform from which to wage anti-submarine warfare.”
Lee continued: “However, the Wessex saw it all – and proved itself as an all-round, versatile, robust and capable helicopter having been adapted to undertake a multitude of diverse roles. It saw action in major operations around the world, from the jungles of Borneo, through the Falklands Conflict of 1982, the frozen wastes of Norway, trooping operations in Northern Ireland, Search and Rescue around the UK and Cyprus and policing of British territories in the Middle and Far East. It also took part in humanitarian operations and even royal transportation roles.
“That many of them were subsequently sold abroad to continue flying with foreign air arms is testament to the Wessex’s reputation and versatility. It not only equipped the Royal Australian Navy but also was successfully exported to a number of foreign air forces, and played its part in the early days of exploration and extraction of North Sea oil and gas in civilian hands.”
Illustrated with more than 280 photographs and technical schematics, this title joins two other Haynes manuals written by Lee Howard, including the Westland Sea King HU Mk. 5 Manual and Westland Lynx Manual.
About the author
Accomplished aviation historian, author and photographer Lee Howard has nearly 30 years of experience in military helicopter engineering. He has a special interest in the Fleet Air Arm and has co-written several books on the subject. Lee is author of the Haynes Westland Sea King HU Mk. 5 Manual and Westland Lynx Manual and is a regular contributor to the specialist aviation press. He lives in Somerset.
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