Westland-Sikorsky WS55 Whirlwind HAR10 XP345
History of Whirlwind XP345
24-1-62 : First Flight.
1-2-62 : Delivered to CFS Turnhill coded W-L in camouflage paint scheme.
Left : XP345 at Ternhill (Photo Derek Jones)
21-12-66 : Category 4 flying accident occurred when the engine failed forcing a landing in Snowdonia during which the aircraft rolled over.
7-3-67 : Sent to Westland’s at Old Mixon for repair.
1-7-67 : Allocated to 202 squadron at Leconfield coded M and in ASR yellow. Further investigation is being undertaken but 345 is known to have been involved in operations rescuing injured seamen from trawler `Delga One’ in treacherous waters off of the east cost. It also carried out rescues inland during the bad winter of 68/69.
1-3-68 : Around this date we believe 345 was posted to the detachment of 202 at RAF Leuchars in Fife for approximately 6 months.
30-9-68 : XP345 returned to Leconfield and was shown as active in Leconfield operations log.
Right: XP345 exercising over Bridlington RAF marine craft unit
9-9-70 : Allocated to 1563 flight based at RAF Akrotiri , Cyprus. At this time the air sea rescue duties were carried out by 1563 flight and UN support helicopters operating from Nicosia were provided by a detachment from 203 sqdn.
17-9-72 : 84 Squadron reformed, 1563 flight became `A’ flight at Akrotiri. B flight was formed and took up UN duties at Nicosia.
6-2-73 : One of B flights Whirlwinds was wrecked at Nicosia when the star unit seized causing the loss of one blade. This resulted in `345′ being transferred from A flt to B flt at Nicosia where she served in SAR yellow with a blue UN band for some time.
(Above: 345 in SAR yellow and blue UN band. (Photo Mike Lloyd))
Right: Re supply mission to UN Dancon contingent (photo Sean Ekburg).
12-11-77 : 125 passengers and crew rescued from sinking ferry `Ertuk 1′ off Kyrenia. We are told that the whole squadron, both A and B flights were involved and we therefore expect 345 was included, (we would like to hear from anyone who was involved to confirm this). Continued with routine UN and miscellaneous missions and was the flight commanders aircraft with `Sqdn Ldr R.E Wedge’ emblazoned on the fuselage sometime around 1979/80.
Above: Ready for operations at Nicosia(photo Reg Wargent).
1-3-82 : B flight disbanded with the closure of Nicosia. The final flight of RAF Whirlwinds took place on this date with a fly past of RAF Akrotiri. XP345 was part of this formation and flown by the then flight commander of B flight, flt lt Reg Wargent with co pilot sqd ldr Bertie Cann. As the last aircraft of the formation to land ‘345 has the honour of flying the last operational flight of a Whirlwind in RAF service.
Having retired from service `345′ passed to Alexandra barracks in Dhekelia. It was given airframe maintenance number 8792M.
12-8-86 : Returned to RAF Shawbury pending sale.
The cabin area has been re-clad in aluminium due to extensive corrosion of the original magnesium skin.
The cockpit area has been completely refurbished using original Whirlwind spares.
The restoration took 10 years and involved 40,000 man hours to complete. Finally XP345 was ready for its big day.
Members of the 84Sqn association attended the rollout. Among their number
was Wing Commander Mike Chapell one of 84 Squadron’s former o/c’s and
Sqn Ldr Reg Wargent the last pilot to fly XP345.
`345′ is now on long term loan to Y.H.P.G and is based at the Aeroventure Museum, Doncaster. If anyone has information not shown in the website we would be pleased to hear from them .To put the icing on the cake the group were notified that Westland Whirlwind
XP345 has been awarded the 2009 Transport Trust’s prestigious ‘Ron Wilsdon’ Award for the restoration.