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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 22nd Aug 2011, 21:18
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White Tops aka Green Parrot

I'm not entirely sure of the rotary path followed by the White House but I think its something along the lines of .. Bell 47J Ranger (USAF), Bell 205 and then onto the Sikorskys (how many different types prior to the Sea King I am unaware) with a transfer of responsibility to the Marine Corps somewhere along the way.

I am even less sure when the well known 'white top' colour scheme came into vogue but had always assumed this to be an exclusively American configuration.

You might imagine my surprise then to discover that the RN had a number of Wessex assigned to VIP duties which donned a similar green and white motif!


Westland Wessex HU5 XT772 serving with 781 Naval Air Squadron at Lee-on-Solent seen here at Southend (Rochford) in January 1979 (Photo: Richard Vandervord)

Evidently these VIP ships were nicknamed 'Green Parrots'. Does anyone have insight as to some of the VIP work these craft would have undertaken?
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Old 22nd Aug 2011, 21:43
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...or Admiral's Barges.... Says it all really...
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Old 23rd Aug 2011, 11:29
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The Green Parrots

Excellent photo Savoia - good find!
I was lucky enough to spend 2 years based at Lee flying the Green Parrots from 73-75.
At the start they were XS450 and XT770. XT772 replaced XS450 in May 74.

Tasks were varied but often out of Battersea with various Admirals or Cabinet Ministers. Destinations from Isles of Scilly to Scotland, though Naval establishments and Ships obviously predominated. Lord Mountbatten was a regular passenger and never failed to send a short thank you note.

Unusually for the RN we flew with Comms Guy left hand seat to handle the Decca and our lavish avionics suite of ARC52 with VHF frequencies instead of the usual PTR 170 UHF of normal MkVs. We also carried a Wren Hostess in the back to look after our passengers who sat in the unusual comfort of a Club seating layout complete with table. The fact our Wrens wore stockings was a regular Flight Safety issue but was easily rebuffed by saying that I wasn't prepared to ask Admiral's wives to remove their tights, so our girls should keep their stockings, though silk would perhaps be better than nylon!

In addition to our bread and butter tasks we used to pick up miscellaneous jobs. Photographing the Harrier landing on HMS Fearless off Greenwich; Air Day displays; Red Devil Para Drops; odd electronic trials; in fact anything that couldn't be laid at anyone else's door!

The position carried the additional bonuses of being Self Authorising, much to the consternation of some Commanders Air and that any visits by the Trappers (Standards Flight) invariably consisted of us taking them on a London Heli Route famil to see the sights instead of the usual GFP/IF ordeal.

A fantastic job, excellent memories and a few good stories for the bar!
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Old 23rd Aug 2011, 13:25
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Does anyone have cockpit layout of the then RAE Bedford Wessex configured for testing the first gen of Multi Function Displays please?

Until the AW101 Merlin demonstrator for AAR during trials with AMI KC-130J, I didint realise that we had experimented with AAR with rotorcraft let alone the Wessex!

Are there any more details on AAR trials for the Wessex, any papers around?

Cheers
Chopper2004
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Old 23rd Aug 2011, 14:55
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Managed to amass FOUR half crown/sixpence episodes in TWO days Wessex flying. returning from Winter/Icing trials in the 70s. Eventually ended up in a playing field at North Foreland being hosed down by the local Fire Brigade as an antidote to possible Foot-and-Mouth infection!!! Think mid December temperatures!!
Fond of the Wessex??? Hmm, I'll 'take the Fifth' - to (mis)quote our transatlantic cousins - especially as a long-time and TOTALLY committed fan of the Whirlwind -all versions. Someone once suggested to me that the Wessex was just a Whirlwind with SAS - Never!! compared to the ultra-light cyclic input on the Whirly, the Wessex was a big lumpy pudding stirring experience - even SAS out, it lacked finesse.
Given the previous posts, maybe one should consider taking cover!!
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Old 23rd Aug 2011, 22:26
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Nigel O - aka YAK - Where do you think you are sitting in the photo of C flight?

I know most of them and do not recognise you.

D
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Old 23rd Aug 2011, 22:46
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My memory isn't as good as yours as I can't remember which flight I was in! I find the photo a bit indistinct but I thought that maybe me next to McHaffey but I guess not. Is that Mike Smith in the middle?
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Old 24th Aug 2011, 08:41
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As mentioned, the photo is atrocious and for which I apologise (ripped from some blog in deepest darkest cyberspace!). But, I 'think' the white cirlce is John 'Chalky' White and the orange circle Patrick McHaffey! Any other names please send them in so we can identify this motley crew!

John Whale wrote: I have several of her that if anyone was interested I would post.
John, it would seem as though there are several Rotorheads whose experiences involve the Albion and I would have thought that a shot or two of the lady at sea would be in fine order. I'm sure Senior Pilot is not averse to the odd ship, especially as she was a helicopter carrier! You never know, perhaps SP is ex-RN!

Re: The Albion photo I posted, you can either 'right click and save' or PM me your email address and I'll mail it to you. The version posted on PPRuNe is only slightly different from the original in that I modify the constrast, colouring and 'sharpness' of all the images I post.

More Albion ..


One of the girls from the Billy Smarts Circus sits on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Albion wearing one of the sailors caps during a performance for the crew. (Notice how the chaps have to be restrained by a rope, lol!)
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Old 24th Aug 2011, 13:57
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North Weald Airshow 1993

North Weald Air Show summer 1993 72 Sqn Wessex on show





My one and only visit to North Weald
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Old 24th Aug 2011, 20:39
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Very much enjoyed Sandy's reminiscences of his time with 781 Sqn and to know that he shares, along with my godfather, a number of handwritten notes from the late great Lord Louis 'Dickie' Mountbatten. (Ferranti's aircraft were at the Dickie's disposal for the better part of a decade and were, I suppose, the civilian helicopters he used most often).

I was sure the 'Green Parrots' would have frequented Battersea (given the nature of your work) - did you use the congested little helipads or remain out on the pier?


Earl Mountbatten arriving at Cammell Laird's shipyard in Birkenhead on 16th August 1962, courtesy of Fleet Air Arm Westland Wessex HAS1 XM923, to attend the launch of HMS Ajax (a Leander-class frigate which carried a single Westland Wasp on board)

[Of HMS Ajax; In 1964, she deployed to the Far East, becoming leader of the 24th Escort Group returning only in 1968. In 1970, she became the Gibraltar guard ship, a required deployment at that time due to the tense fears of invasion by General Franco. Later that year, Ajax began modernisation that lasted to 1973, having her 4.5 inch turret replaced by an Ikara anti-submarine missile system. GWS22 SeaCat (2x4) was fitted aft and 40mm guns were mounted amidships. Just prior to her decommissioning Ajax escorted the HMY Britannia during her 1985 tour of Italy.]

Looking at the Green Parrots, they seem to be fitted with the same VIP cabin windows as those used by the RAF's Queen's Flight in their day:


RAF Westland Wessex HCC4 XV732 of the Queen's Flight at Manchester's Ringway airport on 16 May 1975 (Photo: Shaun Connor)

Sandy mentions the interior of the Green Parrots and which, I suppose again, were similar to that of the Queen's Flight (below):


The interior of Wessex HCC Mk4 XV733 formerly of the Queen's Flight

As shown above, the Queen's Flights ships were not normally configured in a club arrangement, but one imagines that this could have easily been arranged if required.


I was hosted for a day at Benson in 1991 courtesy of their CO, a chap by the name of Hugh Rolfe, and got to see both 'Rainbows' for myself. A great outfit with a great bunch of chaps. Hugh mentioned that HM was not overly fond of the blitterblats (I believe she has warmed slightly to the 76 in recent decades) and that she rarely flew in them. However, some months prior to my visit, they had flown HM from Balmoral to BP when Gulf War One kicked-off.

Last edited by BrandiNettIB; 25th Aug 2011 at 23:37. Reason: Test
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Old 26th Aug 2011, 07:22
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More of Osborn's Navy ..


Westland Wessex HU5 XS479 of 848 Squadron off the Yemeni coast in November 1967 (Photo: Joe Barr)

Another Wessex from 848 attached to the Albion. This one involved in the British withdrawal from Aden.

Icing Trials: Was it 'Chalky' (John White) who told me one day on the pads at Brooklands that he was involved in icing trials with the Wessex which resulted in an almost unrecoverable Nr droop - or was that someone else?
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Old 26th Aug 2011, 09:00
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Nigel

Pilots in the front row left to right.

Chalky White - Mike Smith - Colin Howgill - Pat Mcaffey and me! I think the rest of the front row are other trades various.

D
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Old 26th Aug 2011, 09:34
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AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 26th Aug 2011, 09:37
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Cornish Jack

the Wessex was a big lumpy pudding stirring experience - even SAS out, it lacked finesse.
You should have taken the stick trim out to get nearer to a Whirlwind! I do agree though that the nicest to fly - if not to do a job of work in - was the Whirlwind 9. Engine offs into dispersal with a full SAR crew in the back? No problem!

D
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Old 26th Aug 2011, 09:47
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Wessex Bits!

Bast0n, what a great shot of the Albion and how accommodating of the ground crew to get the Wessex to behave so well even to the point of spelling-out the name of the carrier, great stuff!

Would anyone care to educate me on the two 'bits' identified by the yellow arrows. I'm guessing the pod is an auxiliary fuel tank and, if so, what is the black contraption atop the tank? The second (a pipe? protruding from the belley at a 45 angle) perhaps an oil vent?


Westland Wessex HU5 XT469 at Bassingbourn Barracks on 28th May 1978 (Photo: Mick Bajcar)
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Old 26th Aug 2011, 10:31
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Savoia

Black contraption above the tank is the stores carrier for hanging whatever from and the two pipes underneath are the fuel jettison pipes, an item that the WX 2 did not have for a long time.

D
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Old 26th Aug 2011, 10:52
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I wasn't too sure if that was me but with that high forehead I should have guessed it was you! Colin looks very like Gordon Bradley, my mistake. Which flight was I in, John Rawlins was the leader but I don't remember the others.
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Old 26th Aug 2011, 11:39
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The photo above so reminds me of being a young lad (PO on the tail set me off)...living in Weymouth, but come the summer holidays..going over to the mini beach at Portland Castle with my mum....sitting on the stone wall at the end of the threshold of HMS Osprey and waving to all the crews landing or taking off....didnt care if they didnt wave back....just was fascinated by all the aircraft.

my mum did her part too by sunbathing in a bikini....which if memory serves me right...led to a lot of slow approaches and always off centreline...which pleased me no end.... Wessex Mk 3 & 5s...Wasps....

Chris.
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Old 26th Aug 2011, 11:48
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AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH TWO !!!!!!!!!


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Old 25th Sep 2011, 10:45
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Bast0n that's a brilliant shot.

Dave Gash wrote: The SAS fitted to the Wessex 60 Series 1 was a Ferranti Type FAS-2W embodied to modification ATL/GEN/004. It consisted of 3 Gyro amplifiers P/n 64-55530 or FAS-A2-W. A control unit P/n 74-80-025. An Adaptor unit P/n 64-55490 or FAS-TI-W and three normal Servo motors WB5-73-2903.

Its reliability was quite good after we learnt the lessons from G-ATCA's crash at Swansea Airport (9 Sept 1972) except for a onerous check every seven days.
David thanks for this. I was unable to discover anything substantive about ATCA's demise, in fact all I could source was this brief note in Flight International:


Flight International 14th September 1972

What exactly happened please? They were conducting low-level hover trials .. and it burst into flames!!!

G-ATCA in better days; from post 507 on page 26 of the Nostalgia Thread:


Westland Wessex Mk 60 G-ATCA over Ford's Dagenham plant on 9th July 1970 en-route to Belgium to deliver the one millionth Ford Cortina car

.
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