Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Westland Sea King
The Westland Sea King is a license built version of the Sikorsky helicopter of the same name, built by Westland Helicopters. The aircraft differs from the American version, with British Rolls-Royce Bristol Gnome engines, along with entirely British made Anti-Submarine Warfare systems and a fully computerised control system. The Westland Sea King was also designed to be tasked with far more wide ranging missions compared to the Sikorsky Sea King.
The first flight of the Westland Sea King, a Mk. 1, took place on 7 May 1969, with the first production aircraft entering Royal Navy service that same year. The basic ASW Sea King has been upgraded numerous times, becoming the HAS Mk. 2, 5 and 6, the latter of which has been replaced by arguably the most advanced ASW helicopter currently in the world, the Westland Merlin.
There have also been other versions of the Sea King produced. The HC4 variant is still in service and remains a formidable asset for amphibious assaults. It is capable of transporting 28 fully equipped troops with an astonishing range of 400 miles (640 km). Some Mk. 5s of the ASW Sea King were adapted for Search and Rescue or SAR.
One of the most vital variants of the Sea King is the ASaC (Airborne Surveillance and Area Control), formally known as Airborne Early Warning (AEW). The AEW capability had been lost when the Fairey Gannet was withdrawn after the last of the RN's Fleet carriers, HMS Ark Royal, was decommissioned in 1978. The severity of no AEW aircraft was proven with tragic effect during the Falklands War, when a number of warships that could have been saved, if there had been an AEW presence, were lost, resulting in many casualties. The first of this Sea King variant came into operational service in 1985, being deployed by No. 849 Squadron FAA. The current ASaC Sea King is the Mk. 7, which is deployed on the RN's aircraft carriers.
The Westland version has been exported to Australia, Belgium, Egypt, Germany, India, Norway, Pakistan and Qatar and these long serving helicopters continue to serve all of these nations with distinction. The last Sea King to be built by Westland was at Yeovil in 1990 and the last of the Sea King ASW helicopters was retired in 2003, being replaced by the Westland Merlin. The ASaC or AEW variant is expected to be replaced in time for the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. The types in contention is a Merlin derivative, a V-22 Osprey variant or a derivative of the E-2C Hawkeye. The HC4 commando variant is also expected to be replaced within the next decade along with SAR variants. An astonishing 330 in total were produced.
The Sea King proved her remarkable versatility and endurance during the Falklands War. It performed many tasks from replenishment to troop transport and Special Forces insertions into the occupied islands. Its use also led to numbers of the Sea King being shot down. Sadly at times, their crews perished with them. On 23 April, a Sea King HC4 was ditched while performing a risky vertical replenisment mission, made the more dangerous with it being done at night while operating from the flagship HMS Hermes. PO Air Crewman Casey tragically drowned.
Another Sea King was lost, again because of ditching into the sea, this time due to a systems malfunction. Fortunately all of the Sea King's crew were rescued. Five days later another Sea King, again from Hermes, crashed into the sea due to an altimeter problem, thankfully all crew were rescued.
One of the most mysterious events of the war occurred on 17th May, when one Sea King from No. 849 NAS landed at Puntas Arenas , Chile and was subsequently destroyed by its crew. The three crew later gave themselves up. They were returned to the UK and were given gallantry awards for numerous dangerous missions that they had undertaken.
One of the most tragic accidents during the Falklands War came on 19 May. The helicopter had been transporting SAS troops to HMS Intrepid from Hermes. It was attempting to land on Intrepid, but a thump was heard, and the Sea King dipped and soon afterwards crashed into the sea with a ferocious impact, killing 22 men. An astonishing nine survived this tragic accident, but only by a daring feat of bravery, by jumping out of the Sea King just before the helicopter crashed. Bird feathers were found in the debris of the crash, which appeared to suggest that this horrendous accident was the result of a bird, though this possibility is now open to doubt. The SAS lost 18 men in that crash, their highest number of casualties on one day since World War II. The Royal Signals lost one man and the RAF one dead as well.
Gulf War I and II
The Sea Kings during the First Gulf War had a relatively limited role, compared to their wide ranging task during the Falklands War, but it still provided valuable service. Its main roles were air-sea rescue, inter-ship transporting duties and transporting Royal Marines onto any suspect ships that refused to turn around during the enforced embargo on Iraq.
In Gulf War II, Sea Kings from No. 849 NAS operated off the flagship of the Royal Navy Task Force HMS Ark Royal. Sea Kings also deployed from HMS Ocean, being opeated by No. 845 Squadron FAA , as well as Sea Kings from No. 820 Squadron FAA , being operated off RFA Argus.
Early in the war two AEW Sea Kings from 849 NAS, operating from Ark Royal, collided, on the 22nd March. There were no survivors. Six British and one American died.
The Sea King participated in the UN's intervention in Bosnia, with Sea Kings being operated by No. 820 NAS, No. 845 NAS. The Sea Kings from 820 NAS were deployed from Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Fort Grange and Olwen. They provided logistical support, rather than the ASW role that the Squadron was geared towards, ferrying troops as well as supplies across the Adriatic. They perfomed over 1,400 deck landings, flying in excess of 1,900 hours. The Sea Kings from 845 NAS performed vital casualty evacuation and other tasks. Their aircraft were hit numerous times, though thankfully no casualties were incurred.
During NATO's intervention in Kosovo, a British led operation, Sea Kings from No. 814 Squadron FAA , operating aboard HMS Ocean and RFA Argus and also on destroyers and frigates. They provided search and rescue (SAR), as well as transporting troops and supplies.
- HAS1 - The first basic ASW Westland Sea King. First flew in 1969.
- HAS2 - Upgraded ASW variant. Some were later converted for AEW (Airborne Early Warning) duties.
- AEW2A - Originally HAC2s but were later converted for the AEW role after shortcomings in that role were revealed with tragic consequences during the Falklands War.
- HAR3 - Search and Rescue variants. The first SAR Sea Kings were produced for the Royal Norwegian Air Force and the German Navy. In UK service with 22 and 202 Squadrons of the RAF.
- HC4 - Commando variant. Is capable of transporting 28 fully equipped troops.
- HAR41 - Upgraded SAR variant.
- HAR43 - Upgraded SAR variant.
- HAR48 - Upgraded SAR variant.
- HAS5 - Upgraded ASW variant and later converted for SAR (Search and Rescue) duties.
- HAS6 - Upgraded ASW variant.
- AEW7 - Upgraded AEW variant.
- ASaC7 - AEW7s uprated for the ASaC role
Specifications (Sea King HAS.5)
- Crew: three
- Length: 54 ft 9 in (16.69 m)
- Main rotor diameter: 62 ft 0 in (18.90 m)
- Height: 17 ft 2 in (5.20 m)
- Main rotor area: 3,020 ft² (280 m²)
- Empty: lb ( kg)
- Loaded: lb ( kg)
- Maximum takeoff: 21,400 lb (9,707 kg)
- Powerplant: 2x Rolls-Royce Gnome H1400-2 turboshafts, 1,600 shp (1,193 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 144 mph (232 km/h)
- Range: miles ( km)
- Service ceiling: ft ( m)
- Rate of climb: ft/min ( m/min)
- Main rotor loading: lb/ft² ( kg/m²)
- Power/Mass: hp/lb ( kW/kg)
Related development: H-3 Sea King
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details