||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (May 2010)|
|First flight||29 August 1960|
|Status||Retired from active service|
|Primary users||British Army
Royal Australian Navy
Royal Jordanian Air Force
South African Air Force
|Number built||About 150|
|Developed from||Saro P.531|
- 1 Design and development
- 2 Operational history
- 3 Accidents and Incidents
- 4 Popular culture
- 5 Variants
- 6 Operators
- 7 Specifications (Scout)
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Design and development
Both the Scout and the Wasp were developed from the Saunders-Roe P.531, itself a development of the Saunders-Roe Skeeter. With the acquisition of Saunders Roe, Westland took over the P.531 project, which became the prototype for the Scout (originally called Sprite) and the Wasp.
The P.531 was developed with the 635 shp (474 kW) Bristol Siddeley Nimbus and the 685 shp (511 kW) de Havilland Gnome H.1000 engine, which flew from 3 May 1960. The production Scout AH.1 used a 1,050 shp (780 kW) Rolls-Royce (RR having acquired Bristol Siddeley by then) Nimbus 101 engine, torque limited to 685 shp (511 kW), and achieved its first flight on 29 August 1960. The Nimbus power ratings were 1,050 shp (780 kW) for five minutes, 685 shp (511 kW) for one hour and 650 shp (480 kW) could be maintained up to 7,000 ft (2,100 m) at 30 degrees Celsius.
The Scout has a rigid tubular skid undercarriage with two oleos connecting the rear cross-tube to the fuel tank rear bulkhead. Despite appearances the oleos act in tension, not compression, damping the reflex action to prevent the aircraft bouncing and ground resonance when landing. Energy absorption on landing is mainly through the two cross-tubes. Additional rigidity is given to the undercarriage through diagonal struts connecting the rear cross tube to the main fuselage longitudinal webs. These struts also help stiffen the airframe vertically and laterally, and are fitted with quick release pins to allow access to the fuselage access panels. The rear cross-tube is anchored centrally and the front cross-tube is fixed to the two main fuselage longitudinal webs. The port skid also acted as a storage tube for the long HF aerial, the skid was accessed via a screw-fixed cap at the rear. The vertical spigot at the front of each skid is used to mount ballast weights to alter the aircraft's centre of gravity.
Behind the two front seats was a three-seat bench, although this could be replaced with a four-seat bench when fitted with modified rear doors (see main photograph). It was used for general light work including observation, liaison, training, and search and rescue. When fitted as a light attack helicopter it carried either two, skid-mounted, forward-firing machine gun (L8A1 GPMG) packs or a single pintle mounted machine gun in the rear cabin. The pintle mount was available in both port and staboard mountings. The gun-packs, which were both aimed at a pre-set convergence angle, carried 200 rounds of ammunition and were mounted on a tubular spar that was fixed between the front and rear undercarriage legs. In the anti-tank role it could carry four guided missiles (the Nord SS.11). The sighting unit was the AF.120, the result of a joint venture between Avimo and Ferranti and had x2.5 and x10 magnification. The APX Bezu sight unit was also evaluated but rejected, although it was adopted for use on the Westland Wasp. Additional testing and trials were carried out with the Hawkswing(initially known as Airstrike Swingfire) missile. Initial firings were carried out in early 1972, to test the system for the Westland Lynx, the associated AF.530 sight was subsequently trialled in 1974. The Hawkswing system was cancelled in 1975 due to its manual control system (MCLOS) compared to the semi-automatic (SACLOS) system utilised by its rivals HOT and TOW. In the casualty evacuation role (CASEVAC), the Scout could carry two stretchers internally or two on externally mounted pods, the co-pilots seat could also be reversed to allow an attendant to face the casualties.
Although the general design of the aircraft was robust, with an airframe fatigue life of 7200 hours, the cockpit ergonomics were less than perfect. An example of this was the cabin heater switch being mounted next to the fuel cock. Unfortunately this led to the loss of at least four aircraft when the pilot misadvertantly closed the fuel cock instead of switching off the cabin heater, causing the engine to shut down. The autorotational qualities of the Scout have also been described by some pilots as 'startling'. In service trials and testing were carried out by the AAC's Development Wing at Middle Wallop, Hampshire. A wide variety of weapons and equipment were evaluated, although many were never adopted. Amongst these were the 7.62mm General Electric Minigun and the two-inch rocket pod. The rocket pods were mounted either side of the central fuselage section on the multi-spar weapon booms and both smooth tube and fin-stabilised rockets were tested, although the accuracy was described as 'indifferent'. Studies were also carried out for a pintle mounted M2 Browning machine gun in place of the standard 7.62 GPMG, and the French AME.621 20mm cannon. Another was the installation of a Bendix R.100  lightweight weather and ground-mapping radar, which had a range of eight and forty miles. This was mounted behind the fibreglass nose access panel along with a small viewing screen in the cockpit. The radar antenna was moved further forward later in the development and a small, pronounced nose cone was fitted onto the panel.
During the development of the WG.13 Westland Lynx, two Scouts were used as testbeds and fitted with full-scale, semi-rigid Lynx main rotor heads, despite the fact that the WG.13 rotor diameter was greater by around three metres. The first test flight was achieved 31 August 1970. A prototype MBB BO 105 also used a Scout main rotor head and blades during the development phase, unfortunately this aircraft was destroyed due to ground resonance during its initial trials.
About 150 Scouts were built through 1968, primarily at the Fairey Aviation Division factory at Hayes.
The Scout formed the backbone of the Army Air Corps throughout the 1960s and well into the 1970s; the first Scout flew on 29 August 1960 and an initial order for 66 aircraft followed a month after its first flight. Engine problems delayed the introduction of the Scout until 1963, and as an interim measure the Army Air Corps received a small number of Allouette II helicopters. Although the aircraft's entry into service was delayed, the Scout still had a number of teething troubles when it was introduced. One of the earliest losses was XR596, which crashed into the jungle near Kluang airfield in Southern Malaya, 16 July 1964, following a fuel pump failure. The two crew died in the incident. Engine failures were responsible for the loss of at least eleven military and civilian registered aircraft. The engine life of the Nimbus during the early part of its service was notoriously low, with four to six flying hours being the norm. A competition was allegedly held, with a prize to the first unit that could achieve an engine life of twenty-five flying hours. Operational experience and development work steadily improved the reliability of the Nimbus and by 1964 engine life had improved to two/three engine changes per 1,000 flying hours.
The Scout AH Mk 1 was operated by the Army Air Corps on general light work, including observation and liaison. Like the Wasp, the Scout could be fitted out with different role equipment including flotation gear and a Lucas, air-driven hoist which had a lift capacity of 600 lb (270 kg). In the light attack role it was capable of carrying one pintle machine gun in the rear cabin (it is possible to carry two pintle mounted GPMGs in the cabin, although this would, unsurprisingly, be somewhat cramped) or two forward-firing 7.62mm L7 General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) fixed to the undercarriage skid. These GPMG combinations were sometimes used in unison to great effect.
The forward firing GPMGs were electrically operated, being fired by the pilot and aimed using a rudimentary system of drawing a small cross on the windscreen with a chinagraph pencil. In sandy conditions these weapons could jam, which necessitated one of the free crew to lean out of the cockpit door and 'boot' the offending weapon in hope of clearing it. This procedure was not strictly in accordance with the flight reference cards. The L7A1 pintle mounted weapon was operated by a door gunner.
In the anti-tank role four SS.11 ATGWs were carried, these could be carried in conjunction with the pintle mounted GPMG. During the Falklands campaign the SS.11 achieved some success, being used to attack Argentine positions 14 June 1982. For night time reconnaissance the Scout could carry four 4.5-inch (110 mm) parachute flares mounted on special carriers. In addition, two smaller parachute flares could be carried to allow emergency landings at night. These were fitted on the starboard rear fuselage on a special attachment point. About 150 Scout helicopters were acquired for the Army Air Corps and were operated by them up until 1994.
The way British Military Aviation has been established has meant that the Royal Marines have never actually “owned” their own aircraft. The larger Whirlwind, Wessex and Sea King helicopters have been “Royal Navy” Helicopters and, like today’s Lynx AH Mk 7, the Scout AH Mk 1s operated by 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron (3 CBAS) were British Army helicopters on loan. 3 CBAS flew the Scout from 1979 through to 1982, when the Scout was replaced by the Westland Lynx, and the squadron was eventually renumbered as 847 Naval Air Squadron.
The Territorial Army (AAC) formed 666 Squadron with a number of Scouts in the late 1980s.
Mystery still surrounds a Scout that went missing 20 September 1965. XR599 set off for a 40-nautical-mile (74 km) night flight from Lundu to Kuching, the mission being to transport a local communist suspect to the Sarawak capital for interrogation. At 23:00 hrs the aircraft was posted as missing and a search and rescue mission was mounted. Although the aircraft and the remains of the pilot, the escort rifleman and the suspect were never found, a fisherman later dredged up small parts of the aircraft wreckage. On 23 September a local newspaper, The Strait Times, printed a story speculating that the Scout had been hi-jacked by the prisoner who had somehow managed to capture his escort’s weapon and then ordered the pilot to either fly out to sea or over the jungle towards the Indonesian border until they ran out of fuel. Tragedy struck a second time on 25 September when an RAF Westland Whirlwind HAR.10 of 225 Sqn, searching over jungle for XR599, crashed killing the five crew.
Aden and Radfan
In Aden and Radfan a number of Scouts were shot down, although these usually resulted in a forced landing and the aircraft were recovered, repaired and returned to service. An example of this occurred 26 May 1964 when the CO of 3 Para, Lt Col Anthony Farrar-Hockley, used a Scout to reconnoitre the Wadi Dhubsan area, Radfan. The aircraft was hit by enemy fire, the pilot made an emergency landing and the aircraft was subsequently recovered. Three Scouts were written off during the campaign, the first, XR634, was through pilot error whilst landing, 16 May 1966. Although initially repairable this aircraft was subsequently damaged beyond economic repair when it was dropped by the RAF Westland Wessex sent to recover it. The second aircraft, XT635, flew into a hillside during a night patrol at Jebal, 5 May 1967, killing the two crew and the two passengers. The third aircraft, XT641, was destroyed on the ground in an incident where the pilot, and his F.O. intelligence officer passenger were captured and shot dead by the NLF after landing in a wadi bed whilst on a flight from Ataq to Mayfa’ah on 3 September 1967. The NLF then set fire to and destroyed the aircraft. Dropping recovered aircraft from helicopters is not the preserve of the Royal Air Force. On 1 August 1968, Westland Sioux XT123 crashed at Sharjah, Oman, and was subsequently written off when it was dropped by the Westland Scout that was attempting the recovery.
Lt David John Ralls, RCT, was awarded the DFC for counter-attacking a large group of enemy which had previously attacked an army road repair party on the road to Habilayn. Lt Ralls attack, on 30 May 1967, utilised both the forward-firing and pintle mounted weapons, forcing the enemy to retreat. Despite his aircraft being hit a number of times, he then directed three Hawker Hunter airstrikes onto the target.
At the start of “Operation Corporate” six Scouts from 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron were operating alongside three machines from No. 656 Squadron AAC, and when 5 Infantry Brigade landed they were joined by another three Scouts from 656 Squadron. During the Falklands conflict the Scout was engaged in CASEVAC, re-supply and Special Forces insertion roles. One aircraft, XT629, was one of two Scouts of B Flight 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron, that was attacked by two FMA IA 58 Pucarás (the only Argentine air-to-air victory in the war) of Grupo 3 near Camilla Creek House, North of Goose Green. XT629 was hit by cannon fire and crashed, killing the pilot and severing the leg of the crewman, who was thrown clear of the wreckage on impact. The second Scout evaded the Pucarás and later returned to the site to CASEVAC the survivor. Another Scout, XR628, of 656 Sqn AAC, suffered a main rotor gearbox failure whilst in a low hover over MacPhee Pond, 8 June 1982. XR628 had taken cover as two pairs of A-4 Skyhawks from Grupo 5 approached, these aircraft later attacked the RFA LSLs Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram at Bluff Cove. Once the threat had passed and the pilot began to climb away, the main gearbox failed at the main input drive and the aircraft made a forced landing at the lakeside in around four feet of water. The two crew were picked up another 656 Sqn Scout piloted by Capt J G Greenhalgh later that day. The aircraft was eventually recovered and airlifted to Fitzroy by Sea King on 11 June, but was subsequently written off on its return to the UK. Following research at the National Archive, Kew, it has been determined that XR628 was the same aircraft that was shot down, 26 May 1964, carrying 3 Para CO Lt Col Farrar-Hockley.
Scouts armed with SS.11 anti-tank missiles were used to great effect during the Falklands campaign. On 14 Jun 1982, an Argentine 105 mm Pack Howitzer battery dug in to the West of Stanley Racecourse was firing at the Scots Guards as they approached Mount Tumbledown. As the guns were out of range of the Milan ATGWs of nearby 2 Para, their 2IC, Major Chris Keeble, contacted Capt J G Greenhalgh of 656 Sqn AAC on the radio and requested a HELARM using SS.11 missiles to attack on them. As he was engaged in ammunition re-supply, his Scout was not fitted with missile booms. This was in order to reduce weight and increase the aircraft lift capability. Capt Greenhalgh then returned to Estancia House, where his aircraft was refuelled, fitted out, and armed with four missiles in 20 minutes with the rotors still turning. An ‘O’ group was then held with the crews of two Scouts of 3 CBAS and Capt Greenhalgh took off on a reconnaissance mission, while the other aircraft were fitted out and readied. Within 20 minutes he had located the target and carried out a detailed recce of the area. He fired two missiles at the enemy positions and then returned to a pre-arranged RV to meet up and guide in the other two Scouts. The three aircraft, positioned 100 metres apart, then fired a total of ten missiles (nine missiles hit, one failed) from the ridge overlooking the Argentine positions 3000m away and succeeded in hitting the howitzers, nearby bunkers, an ammunition dump and the command post. The Argentine troops returned mortar fire, a round landing directly in front of Capt Greenhalgh’s Scout.
In Northern Ireland the Scout pioneered the use of the Heli-Tele aerial surveillance system, having a gyro-stabilised Marconi unit shoe-horned into the rear cabin. The Heli-Tele unit weighed some 700 lb (320 kg), although later developments reduced this significantly. The aircraft was also used for mounting Eagle patrols. In this role the rear cabin doors and seats were removed and four troops sat in the rear cabin with their feet resting on the skids. Operating with two aircraft in unison, this allowed an eight man patrol to be quickly inserted into an area and mount snap Vehicle Check Points (VCPs) if necessary. Up until 1973, the standard tail rotor colour scheme for the Scout were bands of red and white. On 14 September 1973 a soldier died during training at Gosford Castle, Armagh, after coming into contact with the tail rotor blades whilst the aircraft was on the ground. Following this accident the tail rotor blade colour scheme was changed to the distinctive black and white bands.
Because of the specialist nature of operations in Northern Ireland, a particularly important piece of role equipment was introduced in the form of the 'Nightsun' 3.5 million candle power searchlight. Operations at night were greatly enhanced with the introduction of Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), although these missions could still be hazardous. This was evident on the night of 2 December 1978, when the pilot of XW614, 659 Sqn, became disorientated during a sortie and crashed into Lough Ross, killing the two crew. XW614 was the last of five Scouts written off during operations in the Province.
Unlike its naval counterpart, the Scout did not achieve the same export success as the Wasp, with the Royal Jordanian Air Force acquiring three helicopters, two were operated in Uganda, and Bahrain had two helicopters which were operated by the Bahrain Public Security Force in police service roles. The Scout never received civilian air worthiness certification which prevented it from being sold to civilian operators, the design being used purely for army use from the outset. All current operators require an 'Experimental' certificate to fly them.
Two Scout helicopters were acquired by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in April 1963 and were operated by the 723 Naval Air Squadron, with the aircraft being rotated aboard the hydrographic survey ship HMAS Moresby. The RAN Scouts proved the practicalities of operating helicopters from small ships for the RAN, and the RAN operated these helicopters up until 1973, when they were replaced by Bell 206B-1 Kiowas. The RAN experience with the Scouts aboard HMAS Moresby illustrated the need for a higher-level maintenance regime as a result of operating the helicopters in areas with high concentrations of abrasive coral sand encountered around the Australian coastline and the detrimental effect that it had on the rotor blades, airframe and engine components. Despite the additional effort to maintain the helicopters, the Scouts were considered to be superior to the seaplanes and flying boats that had previously been used in this role. One of the Scouts ditched in Wewak Harbour while taking off from HMAS Moresby, April 1967, although it was subsequently recovered the aircraft was written off.
Although the operational flying days are behind them, there are still Scouts in the air; mainly in the UK; at the present time (11/2014) there are ten Scouts remaining on the UK Civil Register including the Army Air Corps Historic Flight's aircraft. Outside the UK, the last of six Scouts that were taken down to New Zealand have been withdrawn from use, leaving ZS-HAS flying in South Africa.
Accidents and Incidents
- XR638 3 January 1966: While serving with 21 Flt, UK, the aircraft encountered engine problems caused by the inadvertent closure of the fuel cock in mistake for the heater control, during a delivery flight from Wroughton to Middle Wallop. The aircraft subsequently lost height and crashed tail first at Marlborough, Wiltshire. It then caught fire and burnt out killing the two crew.
- XV120 6 June 1967: While serving with 10 Flt, the aircraft crashed into the ground at the corner of Long Cross housing estate at Felton near Bristol Airport, just before 9 am, killing the pilot and the two other occupants.
- XT625 30 January 1968: While serving with 11 Flt, Malaysia, the aircraft suffered an engine failure and force landed into the jungle near Gerik, ten miles (16 km) from Butterworth, Malaysia, killing one soldier and injuring the other two occupants.
- XR640 14 May 1969: While serving with 6 Flt, the aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision during take-off at Chattendon Barracks, Rochester, Kent. The pilot of the Scout, and the two occupants of the Sioux, XT802 of 3 RTR Air Sqn, were killed. L/Cpl Sindall and Spr Pedley Royal Engineers were awarded the BEM for gallantry in attempting to rescue the occupants.
- XR636 12 April 1974: While serving with 664 Sqn, Northern Ireland, the aircraft flew into rising ground at Rich Hill near Portadown, County Armagh, killing the pilot.
- XV133 9 January 1976: While serving with 662 Sqn, Northern Ireland, the aircraft crashed near Crossmaglen, Armagh, after the pilot became disorientated flying into low cloud at night. Both the pilot and the passenger were killed.
- XV132 10 April 1978: While serving with 655 Sqn, Northern Ireland, the aircraft crashed into Lough Neagh after flying into a snow storm. Both the pilot and the passenger, a 17-year-old cadet, were killed.
- The Scout featured in the 1982 film, Who Dares Wins, starring Lewis Collins. Some of the flying scenes caused consternation for co-star Maurice Roëves, due to his chronic fear of heights. The aircraft were provided and flown by No. 656 Squadron AAC.
- A 'wrecked' Scout featured on a beach scene in a 2008 Royal Marine recruitment film. The 45-second advert was filmed in Brunei and featured Malay actors posing as terrorists. The film, which cost £1million, was later withdrawn due to the inference that Malaysians could be involved with terrorism.
- Saunders-Roe P.531
- Saunders-Roe P.531-2 Mk.1
- Pre-production aircraft.
- Scout AH.1
- Five/six-seat light utility helicopter for the British Army
Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1965–66
- Crew: 1/2
- Capacity: 4/5 passengers
- Payload: 1,500 lb (680 kg) (slung load)
- Length: 30 ft 4 in (9.25 m)
- Rotor diameter: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)
- Height: 8 ft 11 in (2.72 m)
- Disc area: 816.9 ft² (85.90 m²)
- Empty weight: 3,232 lb (1,465 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 5,300 lb (2,405 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce Nimbus 101 turboshaft, 1,050 shp (783 kW) (derated to 685 shp (511 kW))
- Never exceed speed: 132 mph (115 knots, 213 km/h)
- Maximum speed: 131 mph (114 knots, 211 km/h) at sea level
- Cruise speed: 122 mph (106 knots, 196 km/h)
- Range: 315 mi (274 nmi, 507 km)
- Service ceiling: 17,700 ft (5,400 m)
- Hover ceiling: 12,500 ft (3,800 m) (in ground effect)
- Rate of climb: 1,670 ft/min at sea level (8.50 m/s)
- Disc loading: 6.48 lb/ft² (31.6 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.13 hp/lb (0.21 kW/kg)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- Scout originally called Sprite
- Skid undercarriage: Page 184 & 186
- Skid mounted gun-packs
- Bentley 1971, AF.120 Sight p.176 - 177.
- Scout: Hawkswing Test Fire 1972
- AF.530 Sight Test 1974
- Hawkswing cancelled 1975
- Scout autorotation qualities description
- Scout fitted with Minigun photograph
- Rodwell 1968, p183 - 191.
- Scout: Lynx Main Rotor Test-Bed
- MBB BO105 prototype: Scout main rotor
- Geldard, Geoffrey 1965: XR599 - Was missing helicopter hijacked?
- Geldard, Geoffrey 1965: 5 Die in Copter Crash in Sarawak
- London Gazette: Lt Col Farrar-Hockley shot down Radfan
- London Gazette: Lt McLeod wounded 26 May 1964
- The Times, 7 September 1967, p.4
- London Gazette: Lt David John Ralls DFC citation
- Scout fitted with Heli-tele
- Capt Stirling & Cpl Adcock memorial
- The Marlborough Times, 7 January 1966, p.1
- The Times, 7 June 1967, p.3
- The Strait Times, 2 February 1968, p.9
- The Times, 15 May 1969, p.2
- London Gazette: XR640 and XT802 collision
- WO2 Rowat memorial
- XV132 Crash Flight International 22 April 1978
- The Telegraph.co.uk: Royal Marines advert portrayed Malaysians as terrorists
- "World Helicopter Market 1968". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- "Australian Navy Westland-Scout". Demand media. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- "South African Air Force Scout". Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- "BAOR Locations". baor-locations.org. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
- "Bahrain Public Security Flying Wing". aeroflight.co.uk. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- "WORLD HELICOPTER MARKET 1967". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- "Uganda Police Scout". flickr.com. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
- Taylor 1965, pp. 170–171.
- James 1991, p. 367.
- James 1991, pp. 369–370.
- Billinge, Dave. "Scout and Wasp: An All British Success" Aviation News Vol 71 No 2, February 2009.
- Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1965-66. London:Sampson Low, Marston & Company, 1965.
- James, Derek N. Westland Aircraft since 1915. London:Putnam, 1991, ISBN 0-85177-847-X.
- Hay Stevens, James. "Scout and Wasp: Westlands All-British Helicopters", Flight International, 30 July 1964, p183 - 189.
- Wynn, Humphrey. "Army Aviation's New Role: Anti-tank Missile Arm", Flight International, 24 July 1969, p143 - 147.
- Bentley, John. "Through a glass, steadily", Flight International, 4 February 1971, p176 - 177.
- Rodwell, Robert R. "The Army's Airmen", Flight International, 8 February 1968, p183 - 191.
- Rodwell, Robert R. "Ireland - The Border Guard", Flight International, 6 January 1972, p32 - 35
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