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Westland Wessex HC.2, XV721/H ‘Hotel’, RAF No.72 Squadron, ‘Westland Wessex HC.2 35 Years of Active Service’, 1964 – 1999, RAF Aldergrove, Northern Ireland
As world conflicts have evolved since the end of the Second World War, it could be argued that the helicopter has become the most flexible and invaluable asset available to any air arm. Able to perform a multitude of military tasks no other type of aircraft is capable of undertaking, the helicopter is now at the forefront of any conflict, humanitarian, or rescue situation, wherever they occur in the world.
One of the machines that transformed the operational capabilities of the modern military helicopter in the UK was the Westland Wessex – based on the US designed Sikorski S-58 ‘Chactaw’, Westland engineers replaced the original piston engine with a turboshaft powerplant, which amongst other benefits, allowed the aircraft to carry much greater payloads. Entering service with the Royal Navy in the early 1960s, the Wessex proved to be a huge improvement on the earlier Westland Whirlwind and began to serve the fleet in such varied roles as anti-submarine warfare, supply and general utility tasking, along with the vital search and rescue support.
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