• American design • Piston and turbine variants • Military service
Early Whirlwinds were licence-built
Sikorsky S-55s, with Pratt & Whitney Wasp or Wright Cyclone piston engines. Westland soon replaced the US engines with the more powerful Alvis Leonides Major, a two-row radial which gave improved performance. Then, in 1958, Westland decided to build a version using the Gnome, a licence-built version of the General Electric T58 turboshaft. The result was a much more capable machine.
Popular in export markets ►
This WS-55 Senes 3 was among a number of Whirlwinds oxported to both civil and military users. Ghana’s air force was among military customers who also included Austna. Canada. France. Jordan. Spam and Yugoslavia.
A Navy ASW
Royal Navy HAS. Mk 7s wero tho first British helicopters used for front-line anti – submanne v/ork.
A Search and rescue
In RAF and Royal Navy service. SAR was a major Whirlwind role. The type often co-operated with RAF rescue motor launches.
◄ WS-55 Series 3
Some examples of this civil version of the lurbine – powerod WS-55 were, like this aircraft, converted from piston-engined aircraft.
FACTS AND FIGURES
► Westland built a total of 364 S-55s under licence between 1953 and 1966, including 68 WS-55 civil aircraft.
► Bristow Helicopters’ Series 1s were used for ‘flying crane’ and oil rig support duties.
► British airline BEA used WS-55s between central London and Heathrow airport.
► Most turbine-powered WS-55 Series 3s wore converted from piston-engined Series Is and 2s.
► WS-55s were used from tho 1950s in tho Falkland Islands for whaling operations.
► In 1955 a Whirlwind on delivery was flown 5000 km (3.100 miles) to the Persian Gulf.
Westland’s Wessox performs
solidly in every task a holicoptor can undertake. The popular British-built version of the Sikorsky S-58 entored service in 1961 and since then has appeared on ship decks, on battlefields and In many countries and climntes. With its stalky fuselage and jutting nose, the turbine – powered Wessex is easy to recognise. This ageing machine remains in operation as a tactical support holicoptor.
▲ Australian Wessex
The Royal Australian Navy usod the Wessex in the anti-submarine role. This ono has the radar removed, but the fairing remains m place.
22 rescue you ►
Serving in tho search – and-rescue role with No. 22 and No. 202 Squadrons, the Wessex has rescued hundreds around tho British coastline.
▲ RAF support role
In support of the army, the RAF still uses the Wessex in tho tactical support rolo. it will bo replaced by tho EH. 101 Merlin in 1998.
◄ Navy gunship
One In four Wessex HU Mk 5s was configured as a gunship with rocket pods and missilos.
► Australia’s navy new 27 Wessex helicopters on anti-submarine dutios starting In August 1962.
► Westland’s first prototype, a rebuilt Sikorsky S-58, now on 17 May 1957.
► Users of the versatile Wessex Include Australia. Brunoi, Ghana and Iraq.
► The Wessex hod top priority and In 1960 Wostland halted work on a larger •heavyllft’ helicopter.
► A Wessex fired AS. 12 missiles at an Argentine commnndor In tho Falklands.
>■ Australia’s Wessexes used Gazolle engines instoad of coupled Gnomes.