Aviation Historian 28
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C.Gibson - What's French for Fait Accompli..?
The fifth WG13 Lynx prototype, XX153, made its first flight on April 12, 1972, and set several speed records over various distances that summer
A total of 13 WG13/Lynx prototypes was built, including the first for the Army, skid-equipped XX153, seen here holding station as the first of the Royal Navy’s wheeled examples, XW469, peels away during a photo-sortie.
The first five WG13 prototypes were painted in various mostly bold colours, the first, XW835, wearing a vivid yellow overall scheme, while the third, XW837, wore a similar scheme in scarlet, as seen in this Westland publicity photo. The second prototype, XW836, was grey; XW838 (the fourth) was blue and the fifth, XW839, was orange.
Westland’s WG13 was designed to be a twin gas-turbine helicopter capable of fulfilling the joint requirements of the British and French services. Although the nose section of this full-scale mock-up of the skid-equipped Army version is blunter, the shape of the later Lynx is clearly discernible.
The prototype SA 340, F-BOFH, at the 27th Salon International de l’Aeronautique et de l’Espace in June 1967. It is fitted with a standard tail-rotor configuration in place of the later SA 340/341 Gazelle’s fully shrouded 13-bladed “fenestron” arrangement, designed to increase efficiency and offer up to a five per cent power saving.
Gazelle AH.1 XX399 was operated by various Royal Marines units from 1975, and is seen here in July 1980.
The third SA 341 Gazelle in the four-aircraft pre-production batch was originally registered F-ZWRI for its French test programme; it was sent to the UK as a pattern and evaluation machine for use by Westland and the Army, for which it was given the serial XW276.
The Puma HC.1 entered RAF service in June 1971 with No 33 Sqn, four examples of which are seen here in step formation in an early promotional photo.
Puma HC. 1 XW204 of No 33 Sqn operates in its element at low level during a sortie in October 1971. Since its introduction into RAF service earlier that year, the Puma has seen extensive operational service in theatres all over the world, including Northern Ireland, Africa, Belize, Kuwait, Iraq, the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.
The second of the two prototype SA 330s, F-ZWWO, at the Paris show in June 1965. The first prototype had made the maiden flight of the type on April 15 that year. The RAF saw the SA 330 as an ideal replacement for its Whirlwind HAR/HC.10s and Wessex HC.2s in the Support Helicopter role and set about acquiring the type.
The first Westland-assembled Puma, XW198, made its maiden flight from the company’s Hayes factory on November 25, 1970, before being delivered, along with XW199, to the RAF’s No 240 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Odiham.