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What is it about the Wessex that makes people so fond of it?

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What is it about the Wessex that makes people so fond of it?

Old 25th May 2004, 07:28
  #21 (permalink)  
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Smart selection of pics John, although I can't for the life of me work out what the techie(?) on the right of the first picture is doing.

When we Crabs on 72 were preening ourselves for having had the first mil Wessex to pass 5000 hours, Westlands sent a congratulatory/BZ which ended up in the linebook (whatever happened to that...?). It said all the usual pleasantries, noted that the highest-houred RN airframe had reached just over 4500 hours - oh, and Bristows fleet leader (newer aircraft than ours) had just passed 13,600... )
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Old 25th May 2004, 08:16
  #22 (permalink)  

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And 13,600 was a very significant figure for Wessex drivers........

Along with 2,700, 710 and 26,750....

Blimey, what still-surviving brain cell did they come out of!
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Old 25th May 2004, 09:52
  #23 (permalink)  
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Sad bunch of Junglies

For those who truly appreciate the wonders of the Wessex you had to have some time in on the Mk3.

This amazing machine had a cockpit full of gadgets and gizzmos to make the editors of "STUFF" magazine weep. In 1969 we had a fully coupled two-lane autopilot with 4 axis capability. Fully integrated nav-displays that make today's stuff look like Meccano. A fantastic platform for IFR and for those who chased submarines in the fog at 150 feet rad-alt it was the perfect chariot .......................... with some minor drawbacks .......... or not so minor ........ like it only had one engine. Not only that but the one engine was a Napier (later Rolls Royce) Gazelle turbine! Still we didn't know any better in those days and we just thought that having 2 engines meant there was twice as much chance of one failing!! It was also a bit short of fuel ............ 1 and a half hours at most. We thought that this meant you didn't have to worry about when you were next likely to be near a loo ..... then some ratbag invented IFR (in flight refueling) . In the case of the Wx3 this meant you had a refueling nozzle next to the entrance door to the cabin and instead of being allowed to go backto "mum" when you ran out of juice you had to stop by at your local friendly frigate, where, unable to land, you winched up the refueling rig and plugged in. To avoid restricting the frigate's freedom of movement they were allowed to weave around with you in your Wx being towed around like a dog on a lead...... which was not a lot of fun at night????

Still .... fond memories of this a real Wessex, properly painted Blue and Yellow and not disguised as a dog-turd (We loved you really).

Anyone got any Wx3 photos? John Eacott??

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Old 25th May 2004, 12:20
  #24 (permalink)  
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Cool Anyone got any Wx3 photos?


Yes, last one in the run above I'll find some more (after I resize this lot, they're all 800 x 600 and too big. Sorry!).

On top of all the wonderful gizmos on the HAS3, the rheostat control of the transition signals was a joy to behold, on a dark and gloomy night when it hadn't been used for a couple of weeks and had a touch of surface corrosion to spike the signal

IFR? Wasn't fuel state Lamb about 20 minutes, and Chicken (IIRC) 12 minutes? To which Flyco would inevitably "Roger, remain in the port wait" How much faith did we have in those fuel gauges!!!!
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Old 26th May 2004, 04:25
  #25 (permalink)  
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Was the BarAlt Hold on the Wessex autopilot rigged the same as on the American H-34 piston powered version....like vented into the cabin...so that when the crewman opened the cabin door in flight....!!! Amazing how quickly the manifold pressure could change when you had your eyes shut!
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Old 26th May 2004, 11:45
  #26 (permalink)  
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the linebook (whatever happened to that...?).
72 is now a Tucano Sqn at Linton on Ouse, all the stuff went there, here's an email I got recently...

Hi mate,
Yes, we struck up the old colours about 12 months ago. I left the RAF in Jan. They
re-badged the Linton sqns like they did with Valley, who have 208 and 74.
208 being basic Hawk and 74 Tac Weapons. Funnily enough, was the
old Linton 1 Sqn boss, was 2ic, and there were a few other
ex-72 mates(myself included) who were kicking around the bazaar at the
time(Don't know if you know them). Because 72 had only folded about 12
months previously, all the sqn history, books, paraphernalia was intact and
in one piece. was the outgoing boss so it was fairly seamless.
Some minor royal pitched up to Linton, there was a whole load of flag-waving
and blighters marching around with guns, and hey presto, FOLA lives! The
creamies took to the FOLA thing like ducks to water, I re-instated FLAG and
the bar was trashed. Some things never change.

In stark contrast was the old Linton 2 Sqn who became 207(I think)Sqn.
Somebody found a small cardboard box at Admiralty House with their
memorabilia, consisting of a couple of old piccys and a rubber duck. No
history, ergo no savoir faire, as the Frogs would have it. You should see
all the stuff they have on 72. Diaries, the lot. Even Exercise Green Blade.
Lots of stuff from our era in NI in the photo albums which I didn't know
1000hrs MTV
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Old 26th May 2004, 13:29
  #27 (permalink)  
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Was'nt it because it was full of Scout bits!!
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Old 26th May 2004, 19:07
  #28 (permalink)  

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Never flown in one or even sat in one, but will carry to my grave the wonderful sight of a 72 Sqdn Wsx flying at about 45ft down the avenue at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire jinking slightly sideways to get away from the rugby posts and then doing a serene climb and such a delicate wingover type move with the big side door open and loads of legs and arms waving like mad, and then doing it all again, how in gods name that big bird stayed in the air when it seemed that I could see every rotor blade as they turned was beyond me, I eventually traked down the driver and wrote to him, and in reply I had a most wonderful letter of explanation as to how and why he had carried out those manouvers on that day, a very lasting memory of what sounds like a truly good helicopter!
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Old 27th May 2004, 11:46
  #29 (permalink)  
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Thanks everyone for brilliant posts on our beloved machine. Why can't the other threads on Rotorheads be conducted with such knowledge and good humour?
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Old 27th May 2004, 13:37
  #30 (permalink)  
Just a numbered other
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Ahhhh the Wessex!

I suppose time dulls the memory, only leaving the good bits, but I loved the thing. All the frights were self induced, (one JFR induced!) except the time I extended a training sortie at Merryfield so as to return to VL with 300lbs MLA fuel, only to have both engines flame out as I taxied onto stand. So much for the gauges!

For Lu Z, I beleive the Gnome was a license built T58 anyway, so we even pinched that from the septics. I was always amazed that the US services stuck to the pistons for so long.

Delivered a few to Lee-on-Solent at the end of their lives, and see one now and again (XT770) in a paint ball park a couple of miles from here. A paint ball park indeed, and repainted in pseudo camouflage. Yuk.
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Old 28th May 2004, 20:25
  #31 (permalink)  
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As a maintainer, Wessex Vs were the only aircraft which brought on sickness during flight. I was so glad of autostab in the Seakings. On a flight from VL to Valley I sat with my back to the door, opposite the crewy who was sat on the breadboard. I coughed up my lunch onto his map. He pushed my head out of the door and shut it on my neck where I continued to plaster the side of the cab. I remained outside for about half an hour in a February slip stream. I couldn't get back in because I thought the crewy had his foot on my neck. In fact my ear defenders had got cought. I could have come back in anytime.

Spent many an hour asleep on the flotbag, or if not asleep, shouting "Up Pole!".

1981 Air Day rehersal at Points West VL. I count 18 WX

A couple of Wessy Flares. A number of Seaking IV TRs were written off during the conversion

Norway Winter 1981. Splendid cam. Even when the a/c had departed the puddles of OM15 were a dead give away. (and in summer the piles of pink poo paper next to 4 foot silver birch stumps)

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Old 28th May 2004, 23:58
  #32 (permalink)  
Just a numbered other
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Spent today thinking of another Wessex trip some while back.

I was teamed up for a rush job to take the RUC's boss from NI to somewhere sneaky, and wound up in a crab Wessex2. On way home we spotted a Nuke submarine cruising southwards between Isle of Man and NI.

I talked the Captain (and if you knew the late Roy C, you'll know it wasn't hard) in to wiring it most regally. Several close and low flybys later with many a wing over and torque turn thrown in, we continued to Aldergrove whereupon he's dragged off for a boll*cking.

Should only do that sort of thing in a pusser's Mk5. Even Fishheads have the nouse to hate crabs

Thanks for the pics 965. I'm flying one of those! Talking of autostab, the wessex had one too.

I always used to wonder, if the Mk5 was equipped with the Mk 19 autopilot, what utter sh1te mks 1 to 18 must have been
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Old 30th May 2004, 15:31
  #33 (permalink)  
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Ark Royal seem to remember XT770 was one of our Green Parrots at the VIP Flight 781 Sqdn Lee on Solent in Mid 70's. Will check logbook tomo. What a sad end.
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Old 18th Apr 2008, 08:37
  #34 (permalink)  
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Someone will be along in a moment to tell the story.

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Old 18th Apr 2008, 10:05
  #35 (permalink)  
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In my mind a series of photographs we had in 72 Sqn's scrapbook, said more about the Wessex than any words could:

First photo had Walter flying the Queens Own into the Narrow Water ambush site
Second had the much larger second IRA bomb going off, obscuring the Wessex in dust, bricks and other debris
The third has the old girl, still in the hover, shaking off the blast like a dog just out of the water.

The cynical would probably say that the explosion wasn't that close, but that's what the Wessex was like, you felt it would always look after you.
Between two 72 Sqn tours in the 90s I was fortunate enought to fly the HH60J. Nothing like as fun and satisfying as the Wessex, a Ford Escort with a fancy stereo, compared to Westland's wonderful old Bentley.
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Old 18th Apr 2008, 20:51
  #36 (permalink)  
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Big wheeled undercarriage, tailwheel especially.
Although not particularly powerfull, it had plenty of power in reserve if you neede to overtorque it.
Great handling - it gave you plenty of advance warning if you were overcooking it.
and somehow its limitations meant that you really had to do your pilots stuff to get the best out of it.
All in all a truly enjoyable way to fly.
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Old 18th Apr 2008, 23:24
  #37 (permalink)  

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First photo had Walter flying the Queens Own into the Narrow Water ambush site
Second had the much larger second IRA bomb going off, obscuring the Wessex in dust, bricks and other debris
The third has the old girl, still in the hover, shaking off the blast like a dog just out of the water.

The cynical would probably say that the explosion wasn't that close, but that's what the Wessex was like, you felt it would always look after you.
I think it was close enough to have its windows blown in. The Captain, an ex-colleague of mine, once told me that he is certain that if he had been flying anything else that day he would not be alive. He got an AFC for his part in the aftermath and is still flying today.
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Old 19th Apr 2008, 06:54
  #38 (permalink)  
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Similar thing happened in 85 at Crossmaglen where the mortars came in over the fence as the Wessex was in the hover - the crewman saw one coming and shouted a warning. The captain grabbed a handful of lever and as it climbed one of the bombs rolled under the aircraft and went off blowing the windows in. Walter still flew away, much to the chagrin of the boyos who must have thought they really had one that day.
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Old 19th Apr 2008, 07:23
  #39 (permalink)  
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The Wessex.....such fond memories.

And some not so fond.......like 5 engine failures in 18 months (500 hours). And electro-hydraulic windscreen wipers that smeared hydraulic fluid on the outside of the screen giving the opposite effect to that desired.

Best bits were the huge mainwheels and brick shithouse undercarriage. Once got caught out one very dark night in S. Armagh with a fog bank rolling in. 12 troops needed picking up but it was obvious that if I did it in 2 runs, as per the flypro, 6 would have been left behind for a miserable soggy night out. Road moves were out at that time. Had too much fuel to lift all 12 troops so thought a MAUM running take-off at night from an unrecce'd field was a good idea! The old girl did the business and those huge mainwheels skipped over the ruts and bumps until translational lift kicked in. Great machine.

I wonder if the Puma will be remembered as fondly? Into RAF service only 6 (?) years after the Wessex and still going strong - and forecast to 2020 I believe (?). Had I been flying a Puma that night in S. Armagh, we'd have stuck 12 on board and not had any concerns about whether we'd have enough power to get airborne.

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Old 19th Apr 2008, 07:27
  #40 (permalink)  
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much to the chagrin of the boyos who must have thought they really had one that day.
Their luck had obviously improved when they managed to blow the tail off a Lynx in later years.
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