Development of the S-61 began in 1957. the aircraft was designed to meet a USN requirement for an ASW helicopter. The prototype YHSS-2 was first flown on March 11, 1959. The aircraft has subsequently been modified for a number of roles, including at least six military variants and a number of civil versions. The aircraft has been produced in the US and under license in Japan (by Mitsubishi), Italy (Augusta), and the United Kingdom (Westland). Westland's Sea King was a modified version of the S-61B utilising Rolls-Royce Gnome turboshafts. The first of these aircraft were flown in September 1967. The aircraft fit was comparable to the USN SH-3D. The aircraft has since undergone a variety of development regarding engine, avionics and weapons fitted.
The Sea King is not a Kiwi based aircraft- but variants periodically visit New Zealand. The aircraft illustrated below is a RAN operated HAS MK.50 (N16-02) - one of ten originally acquired by the RAN for use on HMAS Melbourne in the ASW role. These are the Mk.2 model which first flew in June 1974, having an uprated engine and a six-bladed rotor. The RAN acquired 2 further aircraft in 1981, in partial replacemnet of 4 aircraft lost in service.
Last Update:- 1 October, 1996
© 1996-98 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved