XA 862

Westland-Sikorsky WS55 Whirlwind HAR1 XA862

History of Whirlwind XA862

12-11-52     XA862 was the first Whirlwind off the Westland production line. First tethered hovering trials were carried out at Yeovil and research at Yeovil indicates that three short free flights were also made on this date  (of 5 minutes, 7 minutes and 6 minutes respectively).The aircraft was then used as a ground transmission test rig for 150 hours.
15.8.53         Flown at Yeovil and continued with manufacturers trials until mid 1954.
6.54              Fitted with a new engine.
25.8.54         Delivered to Gosport Helicopter Holding Unit (HHU), the aircraft being  taken on charge the following day.
10.10.54       It was passed to 705 squadron at Gosport presumably for pilot
familiarisation.
15.12.54       To Westland’s at Yeovil for the installation of mine sweeping gear.
25.2.55          Returned to 705 sqdn for trials of this equipment.
n. Back to Westland’s for inspection.
18.5.55          Again back to 705 at Gosport, the code ‘/704 being applied during September ’55.
1.11.55          The squadron moved to Lee on Solent and XA 86 was recoded ‘/527 during  the great January 1956 recode. It has been reported that later in 1956 ‘862 bore the code ‘T/527’ and in 1957 ‘N/527’ but both of these are unconfirmed.
19.3.57          The mine sweeping gear was removed during the course of a periodic inspection.
29.1.58          Transferred to Lee on Solent HHU.
10.2.58          Moved for overhaul to Royal Naval Aircraft Yard Donibristle.
17.2.59          To Fleetland’s where XA862 was placed in storage.
18.7.59          Transferred to HMS Protector ship’s Flight at Lee on Solent.

Note;  From movement record card MR46/1983; Conflicting evidence has been unearthed regarding the movements of XA862 between 9.57 and 2.59. This shows a transfer to HMS Protector Ships Flight on 12.9.57 at  Lee on Solent, a return to RNAY Fleetland’s on 26.5.58, and a further  transfer to 701 Sqdn ‘P’ Flight on 31.7.58. If XA862 was with Protector’s      Flight over the two winters of 1957/58 and 1958/59, it should have been as a spare aircraft only but at present there must be some doubt over its ‘ownership’ during that period.

1.8.59             Returned to Fleetland’s.
18.8.59           Transferred again to HMS Protector Flight.
7.9.59             Service with Protector Flight was curtailed when it was called to Naval  Aircraft Radio Installation Unit (NARIU) at Lee on Solent for lightweight  radio (UHF) trials. This equipment was used when the aircraft was transferred to RNAS Brawdy to assist in the massive recovery operation of the wreckage of Handley Page Victor B2 prototype XH668 which went into the sea off  St Brides Bay, Pembrokeshire. This search lasted for well over a year but XA862 had returned to Lee on Solent before then.
10.59              There are unconfirmed reports of the aircraft carrying the code ‘PO/769’ but this is considered unlikely.
1.2.60              Transferred to 700 Sqdn at Yeovilton for unspecified trials.
  27.5.60          
15.7.60            Joined HMS Protector Ships Flight at first based at Lee on Solent and later at HMS Osprey (Portland) for Flight flying facilities, including  practice deck landings on Protector off Portland Bill.
5.9.60              XA862 was returned to Lee on Solent, still with the Flight.
14.10.60          Back to Fleetland’s AHU but almost immediately passed out to 700 Sqdn  at Yeovilton for flying trials in connection with the workup of the  Brazilian aircraft carrier ‘Minas Gerais’.
28.11.60          Returned again to Fleetland’s AHU.
13.7.61             To 771 Sqdn
19.7.61            Back again to Fleetland’s for unspecified modifications.
31.7.61            To 781 Sqdn at Lee on Solent.
2.3.62              Transferred to NARIU at Lee On Solent for fitment of  NSM.
24.4.62             Returned to Fleetland’s for a final time for storage.
17.5.66             Struck off charge.
25.5.66             Allocated the maintenance serial number A2542/E4551 as a class II  instructional airframe. It remained at Fleetland’s until at least 1969. Noted with the Apprentice Training School there June 1967 to June 1969.
7.70                  Reported with NARIU at Lee on Solent.
7.71                  Noted at Admiralty Experimental Unit at Haslar.
By 1973           It was reported in a derelict condition at Seafield Park, by which time it  had acquired a ‘rescue’ colour scheme. This was presumably used as a  ground training aid for Naval Hospital nurses at Seafield Park.    
12.6.75             Returned to Lee on Solent and was dumped there for some time.
12.1.76             Taken to Wroughton by road.
15.5.81             Departed to the Midland Air Museum at Baginton although in pretty  poor condition.
May 1991         To Imperial Helicopter Museum (IHM), Weston Super Mare on loan by  this date
ate Unknown Taken to the Fire Crash Rescue training area at RAF Colerne by IHM.The aircraft was partially burnt and then finally scrapped.
July 2005          Before XA862’s remains  were removed by the scrap man YHPG  recovered the cockpit section for restoration as a stand alone exhibit  to record the history of this important aircraft. It is thanks to the RAF  Colerne fire team that this part of ‘862 survived.
Note;                 When first off the construction line the civilian identity G-AMJT was obtained but this does not appear to have been taken up.

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