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Scout


By Arpingstone at en.wikipedia [Public domain],
from Wikimedia Commons

The Westland Scout (originally called the Sprite) and the naval-variant (the Wasp) were both developed from the Saunders-Roe P.531, itself a development of the Skeeter. After Westland acquired Saunders Roe, it took over the P.531 project. The initial MoD development contract was for a 5 to 6 seat general purpose helicopter. Most of the Scouts produced were supplied to the Army Air Corps, though the Army also loaned some of these to the Royal Marines (see 3 CBAS). About 140 Scouts were built for the British Army, mostly at the Fairey Aviation Division factory at Hayes. The Scout was used by UK forces for tasks including anti-tank, casualty evacuation, liaison/transport, observation and search & rescue . They saw operational service with UK forces around the world, including Aden/Radfan, Borneo, Brunei, the Falklands, Hong Kong, Malaya, Northern Ireland, Oman and Rhodesia. Although originally acquired as a "utility helicopter", by the time it was due for replacement its main role was anti-tank, in support of NATO in northern Europe. In that role, it was replaced in UK armed forces service by the Lynx.

Development


By TSRL (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

The first prototype, G-APNU, flew in July 1958. The first version that met both RN and Army requirement, the P.531-2, flew on 9 August 1959 with a Bristol Siddeley Nimbus engine. A de Havilland Gnome engine-equipped version was also trialled, starting 3 May 1960. The production Scout AH.1 used a Rolls-Royce Nimbus engine (RR having acquired Bristol Siddeley by that time). The engine was rated at 1,050 shp (780 kW) but torque limited to 685 shp (511 kW), to match the limits of the transmission and rotor system. Extensive theoretical design and practical testing was carried out to provide an undercarriage that was tolerant to ground resonance. The first Army Scout AH Mk 1 flew on 4 August 1960, a powered-controls version followed in March 1961 and deliveries started in early 1963. Following trials ranging from Canada to Khartoum and Nairobi, the airframe was released for operations between -26C and ISA+30C in 1964.

Role equipment

Behind the two front seats was a three-seat bench, although this could be replaced with a four-seat bench when fitted with modified/bulging rear doors. It could be fitted with a Lucas hoist which had a lift capacity of 600 lb (270 kg), powered by engine bleed air. The Scout could carry an underslung load of up to 1,5001b (680 kg)

In the casualty evacuation role (CASEVAC), the Scout could carry a stretcher internally or two on externally mounted pods.

The Scout could be fitted with two, skid-mounted, forward-firing (L8A1 GPMG) machine gun packs, electrically operated, and fired by the pilot. These were both aimed at a pre-set convergence angle, carried 200 rounds of ammunition and were mounted on a tubular spar that was fixed between the front and rear undercarriage legs. Aiming was by a rudimentary system of drawing a cross on the windscreen with a chinagraph pencil. Alternatively, it could be fitted with a pintle mounted machine gun in the rear cabin, operated by a door gunner. in the port or starboard position.

For night time reconnaissance, the Scout could carry four 4.5-inch (110 mm) parachute flares as well as two smaller parachute flares for emergency landings at night.

Scout fitted for SS11 missiles

In the anti-tank role, from 1969, it could carry four Nord Aviation SS.11 anti-tank wire-guided missiles. Target acquisition and missile tracking was provided by the Avimo-Ferranti AF.120 roof-mounted stabilised sight with 2.5x and 10x magnification. The SS.11 was fired for the first time, in action, during the Falklands War in 1982 and became obsolete five years later. The TOW-equipped Lynx that replaced it had an extra 1,000m range and could fire twice as many missiles without reloading.

Flotation gear was available from 1971, based on a requirement for the Hong Kong based Scouts to fly for extended periods of time over water.

In Northern Ireland, the Scout was fitted with the Marconi Heli-Tele gyro-stabilised aerial surveillance system in the late 1970s. The system weighed around 700 lb (150 kg) and took up about half the rear cabin. A Spectrolab 'Nightsun' 3.5 million candle power searchlight could also be fitted.

Trials

A wide variety of weapons and equipment were evaluated by the AAC's Development Wing at Middle Wallop, although many were never adopted. Amongst these were the 7.62mm General Electric Minigun and the two-inch rocket pod. The rocket pods were mounted either side of the central fuselage section on the multi-spar weapon booms and both smooth tube and fin-stabilised rockets were tested, although the accuracy was described as "indifferent".

Studies were also carried out for a pintle mounted M2 Browning machine gun in place of the standard 7.62 GPMG, and the French AME.621 20mm cannon.

In another trial, a Bendix R.100 lightweight weather and ground-mapping radar was installed, which had a range of eight and forty miles. This was mounted behind the fibreglass nose access panel along with a small viewing screen in the cockpit. The radar antenna was moved further forward later in the development to improve downward scanning.

During the development of the WG.13 Lynx, the Scout was used as a testbed for the composite construction semi-rigid Lynx main rotor heads as the Scout had the nearest size rotor, making its first flight on 31 Aug 1970.

The Scout was used for initial trials of the Swingfire/Hawkswing anti-tank guided missile from 1972, with a view to it being used on the Gazelle and Lynx. The Franco-German "Hot" and the the US "Tow" were also being evaluated.

Some operational events, accidents and incidents

1963 May 10, XP851: (651 Sqn, UK) "Suffered engine failure during winching trials at Yeovil, Somerset while on loan to the MOA. It force landed into a field adjacent to the airfield and rolled upside down in the soft ground. The pilot was uninjured but the aircraft was later deemed to be damaged beyond repair"

1964 May 26: (Aden/Radfan) The CO of 3 Para, Lt Col Anthony Farrar-Hockley, used a Scout to reconnoitre the Wadi Dhubsan area, Radfan. The aircraft was hit by enemy fire and the pilot made an emergency landing behind enemy lines. Farrar-Hockley rejoined the unit and was awarded the Bar to his Distinguished Service Order for his leadership. The aircraft was subsequently recovered.

1964 Jul 15, XR596: (656 Sqn, Malaya) After a fuel pump failure, it crashed into the jungle near Kluang airfield in Southern Malaya, killing both crew members.

1964 Nov 17, XP892: (3 Flt, Cyprus) Following a tail rotor failure at 40ft it crash-landed at Ktima heli-pad, Cyprus . Both crew were injured when the main rotor struck the cockpit

1965 Feb 23, XP889: (AACC, UK) "Crashed and rolled onto its side on Sidbury Hill near Everleigh, Wiltshire after engine failure during take off following a precautionary landing to re-select radio channels. The engine failure was caused by a blockage in the fuel pipe"

1965 May 15, XP854: (18 Flt, BAOR) "The engine failed due to blocked oil filters. During the subsequent autorotation at Oberhausen, West Germany the pilot pulled up the collective lever early to avoid some houses. This lost him main rotor speed which resulted in a heavy landing. Of the three crew the pilot was slightly injured. To Westlands for repair but declared a write off. Allocated to TAD043 at Middle Wallop"

1965 Sep 20, XR599: (7 Flt/656 Sqn, Borneo) Went missing during a 40-nautical-mile (74 km) night flight from Lundu to Kuching, the mission being to transport a local communist suspect to the Sarawak capital for interrogation. At 23:00 hrs the aircraft was posted as missing and a search and rescue mission was mounted. Although the aircraft and the remains of the pilot, the escort rifleman and the suspect were never found, a fisherman later dredged up small parts of the aircraft wreckage. On 23 September, The Straits Times newspaper speculated that the Scout may have been hi-jacked by the prisoner who had somehow managed to capture his escort's weapon and then ordered the pilot to either fly out to sea or over the jungle towards the Indonesian border until they ran out of fuel. Tragedy struck a second time on 25 Sep when an RAF Whirlwind of 225 Sqn, searching over jungle for XR599, crashed killing the five crew.

1966 Jan 03, XR638: (21 Flt, UK) The aircraft encountered engine problems caused by the inadvertent closure of the fuel cock in mistake for the heater control, during a delivery flight from Wroughton to Middle Wallop. The aircraft subsequently lost height and crashed tail first at Marlborough, Wiltshire. It then caught fire and burnt out killing the two crew.

1966 May 16, XR634: (8 Flt, Aden/Radfan) pilot error whilst landing, spinning twice before hitting the ground. Although initially repairable this aircraft was subsequently damaged beyond economic repair when it was dropped by the RAF Wessex sent to recover it.

1967 May 05, XT635: (13 Flt, 653 Sqn - Aden/Radfan) flew into a hillside during a night patrol at Jebal, 5 May 1967, killing the two crew from 13 Flight 653 Squadron AAC, Lt David Anthony Morgan, RASC/RCT and Cpl Christopher Timothy Gibb, REME (23), and the two passengers: Anthony John Dunn, 45 Commando, Royal Marines (24) and Taff Iles, also known as John, Royal Engineers, serving with 22 Special Air Service.

1967 May 30: (Aden/Radfan) A Royal Engineers convoy had come under attack from around 30 men in the Wadi Matlah in the South Arabian Federation. Two Scouts set out to the area, one armed and one for casulty evacuation. The armed Scout was fitted with a fixed firing GMPG on each skid, operated by the pilot, plus a side door pintle-mounted GPMG operated by the air-gunner. Flown by Lt David John Ralls, RCT, it came under fire but returned it and marked the enemy's position with a smoke grenade. He then guided in three Hawker Hunter ground-attack aircraft onto the enemy positions. The Scout then came under fire from another location, this time from near a cave. Lt Ralls led the incoming RAF Wessex helicoper, with Royal Marines on board, to a site above the cave. Stopping to pick up four casualties from the ambush position, Ralls returned to the base at Habilayn to refuel. But the aircraft was so badly damaged by enemy fire that it was assessed as no longer airworthy and so Ralls and his air gunner had to take a different Scout back to the ambush area. Halls was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions that day.

1967 Jun 06, XV120: While serving with 10 Flt, Bulford, the aircraft crashed into the ground at the corner of Long Cross housing estate at Felton near Bristol Airport, just before 9 am whilst flying in mist. The pilot, Captain Norman Wallace (28) and the two other occupants, Brigadier George Butler (49) and Lance-Corporal John Carr (19) were killed in the crash.

1967 Sep 03, XT641: (Aden/Radfan) went down in the mountains in Wahidi of Radfan, during a 50-mile flight. The aircraft appears to have been destroyed on the ground and the pilot (Staff Sergeant John Francis Baulcomb) and the British political officer (Major Peter Frederick Gooch), on board, were believed to have been killed by local tribesmen. The other passenger, the "Hakim", or head of government, of Wahidi was not found.

1968 Jan 30, XT625: (11 Flt, Malaysia) The aircraft suffered an engine failure and force landed into the jungle near Gerik, ten miles (16 km) from Butterworth, Malaysia. The aircraft rolled onto its side, trapping Cpl Galloway, REME, who drowned. Capt Crof, the pilot, and RSM Smith were injured but escaped the crash.

1968 Feb 01, XT615: (13 Flt, Oman) Following at engine failure at 900 feet, the aircraft autorotated but touched down its port skid first, on sloping soft ground, then bounced and landed on its starboard side, injuring two of the four occupants.

1968 Apr 20, XT622: (7 Flt/4 Wing, Malaysia) Engine failed on approaching Kangar Kahang in the Johore State resulting in a heavy landing that injured two of the four occupants.

1968 Aug 01 Sioux XT123 of 13 Flt crashed at Sharjah, Oman, and was subsequently written off when it was dropped by the Scout that was attempting the recovery.

1969 May 14, XR640: (6 Flt, UK) The aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision during take-off at Chattendon Barracks, Rochester, Kent. The pilot of the Scout, and the two occupants of the Sioux, XT802 of 3 RTR Air Sqn, were killed: Brigadier David Allott (44), Warrant Officer H. Jones (38) and Sergeant David Rogers (25). L/Cpl Sindall and Spr Pedley Royal Engineers were awarded the BEM for gallantry in attempting to rescue the occupants.

1974 Apr 12, XR636: (664 Sqn, Northern Ireland) The aircraft flew into rising ground at Rich Hill near Portadown, County Armagh, killing the pilot, WOII D C Rowat.

1974 Jun 19, XR631: (652 Sqn, BAOR) Hit wires during a photographic sortie at Vogelsang, West Germany. The aircraft crashed and caught fire but the four crew escaped safely.

1976 Jan 09, XV133: (662 Sqn, Northern Ireland) Flying into low cloud at night, the pilot became disorientated and crashed near Crossmaglen, Armagh, resulting in both the pilot and the passenger being killed.

1978 Apr 10, XV132: (655 Sqn, Northern Ireland) the aircraft crashed into Lough Neagh, in about 35 feet of water, after flying into a snow storm. Both the pilot and the passenger, a 17-year-old cadet, were killed.

1978 May 12, XP904: (654 Sqn, BAOR) caught fire after crashing into a wood near Lippstadt, killing the two crew. It has been suggested that the lack of forward speed and rotor speed may indicate that the fuel cock was mistakenly closed, instead of the heater control. These two controls were positioned next to each other.

1978 Dec 02, XW614: (659 Sqn, Northern Ireland) The pilot became disorientated during a night sortie using night vision goggles and crashed into Lough Ross, killing the two crew (Captain Stirling and Corporal Adcock).

1982 May 28, XT629: (3 CBAS, Falklands) During the Battle of Goose Green, as Lieutenant Colonel H. Jones lay dying, his men radioed for urgent casualty evacuation. However, the Scout helicopter sent to evacuate Jones was shot down by an Argentine FMA IA 58 Pucara ground attack aircraft. The pilot, Lieutenant. Richard Nunn RM was killed and posthumously received the DFC, and the aircrewman, Sergeant. Belcher RM was badly wounded in both legs.

1982 Jun 08, XR628: (656 Sqn, Falklands) suffered a main rotor gearbox failure whilst in a low hover over MacPhee Pond. XR628 had taken cover as two pairs of A-4 Skyhawks from Grupo 5 approached, these aircraft later attacked the RFA LSLs Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram at Bluff Cove. Once the threat had passed and the pilot began to climb away, the main gearbox failed at the main input drive and the aircraft made a forced landing at the lakeside in around four feet of water. The two crew were picked up another 656 Sqn Scout piloted by Capt J G Greenhalgh later that day. The aircraft was eventually recovered and airlifted to Fitzroy by Sea King on 11 June, but was subsequently written off on its return to the UK. Following research at the National Archive, Kew, it has been determined that XR628 was the same aircraft that was shot down, 26 May 1964, carrying 3 Para CO Lt Col Farrar-Hockley.

1982 Jun 14,: (3 CBAS + 656 Sqn, Falklands) During the Battle of Mount Tumbledown, an Argentine 105 mm (4.1 in) pack howitzer battery dug in to the west of Stanley Racecourse was firing at the Scots Guards as they approached Mount Tumbledown. As the guns were out of range of the Milan anti tank guided weaponss of nearby 2 Para, their second in command, Major Chris Keeble, contacted Capt J G Greenhalgh of 656 Sqn AAC on the radio and requested a helicopter armed action (HELARM) using SS.11 missiles to attack them. As he was engaged in ammunition re-supply, his Scout was not fitted with missile booms. This was in order to reduce weight and so increase the aircraft's lift capability. Greenhalgh then returned to Estancia House, where his aircraft was refuelled, fitted out, and armed with four missiles in 20 minutes with the rotors still turning. An 'orders group' was then held with the crews of two Scouts of 3 CBAS and Captain Greenhalgh took off on a reconnaissance mission, while the other aircraft were fitted out and readied. Within 20 minutes he had located the target and carried out a detailed reconnaissance of the area. He fired two missiles at the enemy positions and then returned to a pre-arranged rendezvous to meet up and guide in the other two Scouts. The three aircraft, positioned 100 m (330 ft) apart, then fired a total of ten missiles (nine missiles hit, one failed) from the ridge overlooking the Argentine positions 3,000 m (9,800 ft) away and succeeded in hitting the howitzers, nearby bunkers, an ammunition dump and the command post. The Argentine troops returned mortar fire, a round landing directly in front of Greenhalgh's Scout

Popular culture

The Scout featured in the 1982 film, Who Dares Wins, starring Lewis Collins. Some of the flying scenes caused consternation for co-star Maurice Roeves, due to his chronic fear of heights. The aircraft were provided and flown by No. 656 Squadron AAC. A 'wrecked' Scout featured on a beach scene in a 2008 Royal Marine recruitment film. The 45-second advert was filmed in Brunei and featured Malay actors posing as terrorists. The film, which cost £1million, was later withdrawn due to the inference that Malaysians could be involved with terrorism.

Variants

  • Saunders-Roe P.531 - Prototype.
  • Saunders-Roe P.531-2 Mk.1 - Pre-production aircraft.
  • Scout AH.1 - Five/six-seat light utility helicopter for the British Army


Technical specifications

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1965–66

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 or 2
  • Capacity: 3, 4 or 5 passengers depending on number of crew and rear door/seating configuration
  • Payload: 1,500 lb (680 kg) (under-slung load)
  • Length: 30 ft 4 in (9.25 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 11 in (2.72 m)
  • Disc area: 816.9 ft² (85.90 m²)
  • Empty weight: 3,232 lb (1,465 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 5,300 lb (2,405 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Rolls-Royce Nimbus 101 turboshaft, 1,050 shp (783 kW) (derated to 685 shp (511 kW))

Performance

  • Never exceed speed: 132 mph (115 knots, 213 km/h)
  • Maximum speed: 131 mph (114 knots, 211 km/h) at sea level
  • Cruise speed: 122 mph (106 knots, 196 km/h)
  • Range: 315 mi (274 nmi, 507 km)
  • Service ceiling: 17,700 ft (5,400 m)
  • Hover ceiling: 12,500 ft (3,800 m) (in ground effect)
  • Rate of climb: 1,670 ft/min at sea level (8.50 m/s)
  • Disc loading: 6.48 lb/ft² (31.6 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.13 hp/lb (0.21 kW/kg)

Armament

  • Guns: 1 or 2 x L7 GPMG machine guns
  • Missiles: 4 x SS.11 anti-tank guided missiles

Notes

Sources

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  4. "1966 losses" by UK Serials reource centre (accessed: 24 Nov 2014)
  5. "1967 losses" by UK Serials reource centre (accessed: 21 Nov 2014)
  6. "1968 losses" by UK Serials reource centre (accessed: 24 Nov 2014)
  7. "1974 losses" by UK Serials reource centre (accessed: 25 Nov 2014)
  8. "1976 losses" by UK Serials reource centre (accessed: 25 Nov 2014)
  9. "1978 losses" by UK Serials reource centre (accessed: 24 Nov 2014)
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  11. "3 die in blazing helicopter, crash in fog near houses" The Times (7 Jun 1967 ; accessed: 24 Nov 2014) page: 3
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  42. "Photo caption", Flight International (23 November 1972 ; accessed: 21 Nov 2014) page: 734
  43. " Royal Marines advert 'portrayed Malaysians as terrorists'" by Tomas Bell The Telegraph (30 May 2008)
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  47. "Stop fighting call by S Arabia Army" by Jerome Caminada The Times (7 Sep 1967 ; accessed: 21 Nov 2014) page: 4
  48. "Through a glass, steadily" by John Bentley, Flight International (4 Feb 1971 ; accessed: 21 Nov 2014) pages: 176-177
  49. "Was missing helicopter hijacked?" by Geoffrey Geldard, The Straits Times (23 Sep 1965 ; accessed: 21 Nov 2014)
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  56. "WG.13 Test-bed Flies" Flight International (10 September 1970) pages: 384-385
*Wikipedia article ratings, in order of quality: Stub, Start, C, B, GA
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