In 1945 the Army’s attention was attracted to the possibility of the helicopter for AOP duties and on 1 September 1947 Captain P R D Wilson RA made history by conducting the first AOP shoot from an Army helicopter. The inadequacies of the in-service R6B (Hoverfly 2) and the shortage of spares were such that it was abandoned. It was a further ten years before the helicopter was to enter Army service in the observation role.
During the 1940s Cierva developed a light, two seater, piston engined helicopter as an aerial observation platform. However, the Cierva company merged with Saunders-Roe Ltd and the aircraft became known as the Saunders-Roe (Saro) Skeeter. Saunders-Roe Ltd were soon taken over by Westland Helicopters and the Skeeter was renamed the Westland Skeeter.
On 18th January 1957 the first Army Skeeter was collected from Eastleigh and flown to Middle Wallop. However, despite being a delight to fly, the aircraft’s service was short-lived owing to limited engine performance and no external load capability. The aircraft left Army Air Corps service in 1967 after considerable operational service.
She is a non-flying aircraft within the Historic Aircraft Flight.
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