Air International 1997-01
G.Swanborough - Wyvern: Westland's Bedevilled Dragon
Sole surviving W.34 Wyvern TF.1 VR137 is exhibited at the Fleet Air Arm Museum Yeovilton, Somerset. Seven Rolls-Royce Eagle 22 piston-engined TF.1s were built and all but VR137 flew. Sold to the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield in November 1950, it was used extensively for ground vibration tests and airframe system demonstrations before ultimately passing on to the FAAM.
Of four TF.2 prototypes ordered to Specification N.12/45, only VP120 was powered by a R-R Clyde turboprop, the others were fitted with AS Pythons. First flown on January 18,1949, it was delivered to Rolls-Royce at Hucknall on July 4, 1949 for trials and latterly went to RAE Farnborough on September 11, 1950 for crash barrier trials until being struck-off-charge in February 1951. It is seen here undergoing an engine test.
"Вайверн" TF.2
First production Wyvern TF.2 VW867, wearing prototype markings, seen fully ‘bombed-up' with centreline torpedo and underwing rockets en route to the SBAC show at Farnborough in September 1950. First flown on February 16,1950, VW867 replaced second prototype TF.2 VP113 in the test programme. Used by the A&AEE Boscombe Down for deck landing trials and also by Westland and Armstrong-Siddeley at Bitteswell, it was eventually broken-up at Yeovil in 1955.
Vortices stream off the wingtips of a Wyvern S.4 of 830 Squadron, photographed in 1956. The aircraft is believed to be WN336/‘372/J’ which was later burnt-out in a hangar fire aboard HMS Eagle on November 18, 1956 when a Sea Venom inadvertently fired its 20mm cannon, hitting WN336's drop tank and starting a fire. Two days later the wreck was pushed off the bows of the carrier and committed to the deep.
Wyvern S.4 VZ758/‘188’ heads a formation of 813 Squadron examples from RNAS Ford in 1953, shortly after the unit re-equipped with the type, replacing its earlier Blackburn Firebrand TF.5s.
Wyvern S.4 VZ749/‘272/E’ of 813 Squadron on board HMS Eagle around 1956/7. Initially retained by Westland and then used for trials by Rotol, the aircraft joined 813 Squadron on November 28, 1956, and remained with the unit until April 18, 1958 when it was flown to AHU Lossiemouth for storage and subsequently struck-off-charge on September 23, 1959 and scrapped.
Wyvern S.4s of 813 Squadron at RNAS Ford in 1955 with wings folded and engines running. The nearest aircraft is VZ793/’126/J’. Note the coloured tailplane finlets, which were dark blue with a single white diagonal stripe on the majority of aircraft, although the senior pilot’s aircraft carried two stripes and the CO’s had three.
Prototype W.34 Wyvern TS371 first flew on December 23, 1946, powered by a Rolls-Royce Eagle 22 piston engine. Note that it lacks a wing-folding mechanism, cannon armament and ‘sting’ type arrester hook. It is seen here during its fatal last flight on October 15, 1947 in the hands of Peter Gamer - failure of the pitch translation bearing resulted in the airscrew stopping and the aircraft was burnt out in the ensuing unsuccessful wheels-up, dead-stick landing near Yeovil.
This view of a TF.2 clearly illustrates the Wyvern’s outer wing and tailplane dihedral and eight-bladed propeller.
TF.2 VW867 crashed at Merryfield on January 8, 1952 due to asymmetric flap operation. Flown by Harald Penrose, the aircraft rolled inverted before it was crash landed. Damage was, however, relatively minor and it was subsequently repaired.
Westland Wyvern S.4
Three-view drawing of the Westland W.35 Wyvern S.4.