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G-AZBY Westland Wessex 60 Series 1 c/n WA740 - Bristow Helicopters - London-Gatwick Airport in the UK - 21 July 1971 Bristow Helicopters

The Westland Wessex 60 is a medium-weight multi-role utility helicopter, powered by two 1,350 shp Bristol Siddeley Gnome H1200 Mk 660 turbine engines and accommodating up to 16 passengers and 2 crew. The British built Westland Wessex is a development of the single piston-engined Sikorsky S-58 also known as the CH-34. The Sikorsky S-58 was built under license in the United Kingdom by Westland Aircraft from 1958. This company introduced the Westland Wessex with a turbine engine supplanting the original piston engine. The Wessex prototype flew first on 20 June 1958 and the model entered service in 1961 with the Royal Navy. The Wessex 60 Series was a civil variant of the Royal Navy's Wessex Mk.5 and the R.A.F.'s Wessex H.C.2. The first Westland Wessex 60 Series 1 (c/n WA199) was registered G-ASWI with Westland Aircraft Ltd., Yeovil, on 2 September 1964. This helicopter was temporarely registered G-17-1 and entered the CAA files as G-ASWI as a Westland S58 Series 2; Westland Wessex Series 60 and finally as a Westland Wessex 60 Series 1. The aircraft was operated as company demonstrator until it was transferred to Bristow Helicopters Ltd., on 22 April 1970. Early 1965, Bristow Helicopters Ltd. was the launch customer when they ordered three twin-engined Westland Wessex 60 helicopters at a total cost of £750.00, including all spares. A total of twenty Westland Wessex 60 Series 1 aircraft were built, with Bristow Helicopters Ltd. and its affiliates like  Bristow Helicopters (Nigeria) Ltd.as main operator.

The 1971-built Westland Wessex 60 Series 1 c/n WA740 was a long range version, powered by two Rolls-Royce Gnome H1200 turboshaft engines. On 21 July 1971, the helicopter was registered G-AZBY with Bristow Helicopters Ltd., Redhill Aerodrome, Redhill, Surrey, and seen at London-Gatwick Airport the same day. Registration G-AZBY was cancelled as exported to Nigeria on 18 November 1980. In Nigeria, the Westland Wessex was registered 5N-ALR with Bristow Helicopters (Nigeria) Ltd., Lagos. On 1 December 1981, the Wessex 60 was restored to the UK-register as G-AZBY with Bristow Helicopters Ltd., Redhill Aerodrome. The helicopter was temporarely unregistered and operated as G-17-5 and registered G-AZBY again. On 10 September 1982, Wessex 60 G-AZBY was sold and registration G-AZBY was cancelled as permanent withdrawn from use on 23 November 1982. After the aircraft was withdrawn from use, the airframe started a new carrier, this time as a movie prop in Stanley Kubricks's 1987 Vietnam film 'Full Metal Jacket', painted Marine green to represent USMC' Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw s/n EM16. Although the Wessex was a licensed derivative of the Sikorsky H-34, the Wessex substituted two gas turbine engines for the H-34's radial air-cooled piston engine. This resulted in a much longer and less rounded nose than that of the Sikorsky H-34. The movie was filmed partly at the former Army base Bassingbourn Barracks, just outside Royston in the UK. The next stop of the airframe was the International Helicopter Museum, Weston-super-Mare, where the aircraft was displayed in open air in it's Marine colours used in the film. Since, Westland Wessex c/n WA740 moved to New Zealand and arrived in Christchurch in the Marine colours that it had used in the film "Full Metal Jacket". The Wessex never received an official NZ registration and was stored in derelict condition in open air in Christchurch. The Wessex was sold, painted pink, marked as "ZK-IDL" and used as an advertising tool with large white Discount Liquor titles and parked at the car park of the Imperial Discount Liquor store in Christchurch. Here it slowly deteriorated and became a doss-house for street kids. On 13 January 2007, the airframe was brought by road to the Ferrymead Aeronautical Society at Ferrymead, Christchurch, where it is stored in open air since.

page last updated: 24-01-2013
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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