The Skeeter was a light observation and training helicopter produced by Saunders-Roe of Cowes and Southampton. An overly long period of development and lack of engagement with end-users plagued this essentially simple helicopter. It was designed around 1945 at Cierva, initally as the W.14 (with a Jameson 106hp FF-1 engine) then named the Skeeter 1, which first flew on 8 Oct 1948 with a triangular section tail boom. The Skeeter 2 was powered by a de Havilland 145hp Gipsy Major 10 and had a more conventional, circular tail cross-section. It first flew on 15 Oct 1949 but suffered so badly from ground resonance, the single model eventually disintegrated. Enough promise was shown for the UK Ministry of Supply (which procured British Army
aircraft at the time) to order two Skeeter 3 airframes - further improved by the 180hp Blackburn Bombardier engine, as a development batch. SARO took over Cierva in Jan 1951 but even this injection of talent (and capital) could not prevent the British Army rejecting the Skeeter 3B, nor the Royal Navy
rejecting the Skeeter 4. Less resonance and more power was required, apparently being met by the Skeeter 5 and then by 1956, the Skeeter 6 (with the 200hp Gipsy Major 201) was available.
The first production unit was the Skeeter 6A for the British Army (as the AOP.10) and the 6B for the RAF (as the dual T.11 trainer). Both had all metal, stressed skins with wooden main blades. The Skeeter finally entered Army Air Corps service in Oct 1958 for reconnaissance and Air OP duties. Westland
took over SARO in 1960 and the development of a turbine powered Skeeter with the Blackburn Turmo 603 was abandoned, although the experience was carried forward into the Wasp
programme. After this rationalisation, a project was abandoned in March 1960 to boost its performance with a de Havilland supercharger, in hot and high environments. There were also lift enhancement trials of the Napier Rocket Booster, (a hydrogen peroxide tank mounted in a small tank above the rotor head and nozzles at the rotor tips for the expanding gases, without increasing rotor speed) for tropical operations.
The final variant was the Skeeter 8, which was basically a civilianisation of the Skeeter 7 (essentially the Army Air Corps AOP.12 version) for commercial operations. 3 were built for UK Certificate of Airworthiness tests, but no civil orders were placed and Skeeter production came to an end in 1960.
In Jul 1961, West Germany
sold 10 non-airworthy Skeeters to the Portuguese Air Force
subsequently abandoned a project to restore them to flying state.
| Derivatives and Versions of this model: |
| saro p.531 || || Development of the Westland Wasp / Scout family was the first general purpose light helicopter project that was completely British. Initiated by ... |
The P.531 O/N version was also known by SARO as the H.AS/194D during its shipboard trials, which included suction-cup fittings to undercarriage l ...
| Skeeter 6B || 1956 || The Skeeter 6B was a dual control variant of the Skeeter 6A. Known as Skeeter T.11 in RAF service. Only 1 built in 1956 as part of an evaluation ... |
| westland scout || 1960 || Developed from the SARO P.531, Westland built two more P.531/2 prototypes at Eastleigh with double the engine power (one with a 1050shp Bristol S ... |
| Organisations with this Model: |
| From ||Organisation with model skeeter |
| 1950 |
| 1952 |
| 1958 |
| 1980 |
|Construction Numbers on database of skeeter or its versions |
| Construction Numbers of this Model: ||Help Us |
|Airframes conv to new variant |
18 C/N found.
| S2/3012 || Skeeter 6B || 1956 || XK479 : built as T.11, ff 2 Jul 1956, dd 18 Dec 1956, CFS 1957,+ |
| S2/5061 || PC+117 : PF+156 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped |
| S2/5062 || PC+118 : PF+157 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped |
| S2/5063 || PC+119 : PF+158 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped |
| S2/5065 || 1958 || SC+501 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped |
| S2/5070 || 1958 || SC+502 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped |
| S2/5073 || PC+120 : PF+159 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped |
| S2/5074 || 1958 || XL762 : AOP.12. Appeared at 1958 SBAC Farnborough Air Show, dd + |
XL762 Museum of Flight, East Fortune : Acquired by Museum of Flight, 1975. Still present 2013+
| s2/5076 || 1958 || XL764 : dd Sep 1958 to Eastleigh and on to Army Air Corps at Mi+ |
| S2/5077 || PC+121 : PF+160 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped |
| S2/5082 || PC+122 : PF+155 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped |
| S2/5083 || 1958 || SC+503 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped |
| S2/5092 || 1958 || SC+504 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped |
| S2/5095 || XL810 : while with 9 Flight in Germany, hit power cables, cras+ |
| S2/5097 || XL812 : AAC Skeeter AOP12 d/d 13mar59; AAC Historic Flight; to + |
G-SARO : Jul78-Nov00;
| S2/5099 || XL814 : AAC Skeeter AOP12 d/d 06mar59; AAC Historic Flight; 201+ |
| S2/5107 || XM553 : Skeeter AOP.12; preserved at Yorkshire Air Museum, Eng+ |
G-AWSV : ex XM553
| S2/5119 || 1958 || XM564 : dd Dec 1959 to Army Air Corps. 652 Sq, CFS, 12 Flt, 652+ |