Saunders Roe Skeeter


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 from 1947 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 and the type was redesignated the SARO P.501 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 / Scout 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 but Westland subsequently abandoned a project to restore them to flying state.

Derivatives & Versions

Cierva W.14 Skeeter 1 1948 The Skeeter 1 was the Cierva Autogiro Company attempt at a producing a small, single engined helicopter and design work began in 1947. The progr ...
Skeeter 2 1949 From flight testing, it was clear that the Skeeter 1 was underpowered and that its cylinder heads became alarmingly hot after only 20 minutes or ...
Skeeter 3 1951 Two Skeeter 3 were in build as Cierva was being taken over by Saunders Roe during Jan 1951 and both (including a single Skeeter 4) were funded by ...
Skeeter 4 1952 A single Skeeter 4 was built as the third of three development airframes funded by the Ministry of Supply (MoS) - the other two being the Skeeter ...
Skeeter 5 1953 The Skeeter 5 was the result of intensive effort by SARO between late 1952 and Mar 1954 to solve the ground resonance issues which had plagued th ...
Skeeter 6 1954
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 ...
Skeeter 7 1957 The Skeeter 7 was the culmination of SAROs efforts to improve the original Skeeter design and became the basis for the British Army AOP.12 and th ...
Saro P.531 1958 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 Mk.50 1958 Based on the Skeeter 7, for the West German Army.
Skeeter Mk.51 1958 Based on the Skeeter 7, for the West German Navy.
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 ...

List of Operators of Saunders Roe Skeeter

From Organisation with model Skeeter
united kingdom UK Government
    7 1950/55
united kingdom Fleet Air Arm
    2 1952
germany Heeresflieger
    6 1958/60
germany Marineflieger
    4 1958/60
united kingdom Army Air Corps
    67 1958/67
united kingdom Newark (Notts & Lincs) Air Museum
    1 1980/   
Construction Numbers on database of Skeeter or its versions

1Skeeter 2
2Skeeter 3
1Skeeter 4
1Skeeter 5
4Skeeter 6
1Skeeter 6B
29Skeeter 7
6Skeeter Mk.50
4Skeeter Mk.51

Construction Numbers

Help Us

C/NBuilt asYearHistory
S2/3012 Skeeter 6B 1956 UK XK479 : built as T.11 at East Cowes, ff 2 Jul 1956, dd 18 Dec 1+
to SBAC Farnborough Air Show Sep 1956
RAF Handling Sq Dec 1956; CFS South Cerney Mar 1957
to SBAC Farnborough Air Show Sep 1957
CFS 1958; to 15 MU Wroughton Oct 1961, disassembled fo+
S2/3070 Skeeter 6 1958 UK XK482 : Built at Cowes, to Eastleigh during Mar 1957 and on to +
to 1906 Flt Apr 1957
Skeeter 7 returned to SARO Apr 1957 for conversion AOP.12 standar+
to 5MU Wroughton by as ground trainer, 7840M.
to CCF at Ottershaw School (nr Weybridge) by Mar 1980.
UK G-BJWC : ex XK482; reg G-BJWC during Nov 1982 to a private owner+
exported to Australia; to Tyabb, Vic for restoration by+
S2/5061 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 UK G-12-2 : mk.50, built at Cowes, to Federal German Army
DE PC+117 : del HFB 3 during May 1958
PF+156 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
DE PF+156 : ex PC+117 / HFB 3; to PF+156 / HFB 6 until Jun 1961; to+
PT 9301 : ex West German Army. acquired Jun 1961 , never flown.
S2/5062 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PC+118 : to HFB 3 as PC+118, May 1958
PF+157 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
DE PF+157 : ex PC+118 / HFB 3; to PF+157 / HFB 6 until Jun 1961; to+
S2/5063 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PC+119 : to HFB 3 as PC+119 May 1958
PF+158 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
DE PF+158 : ex PC+119 / HFB 3; to PF+158 / HFB 6 until Jun 1961; to+
S2/5065 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE SC+501 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5066 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL735 : AOP.12 to British Army May 1958
to Manston Fire School by Jul 1968
to 2433 Sq ATC, Manston by Aug 1976, still Jan 1980.
to Tattershall Thorpe; Departed by Oct 1992
S2/5067 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL736 : AOP.12 built by Saunders Roe, del Aug 1958.
Middle Wallop, 655 Sq; 1 Flt
25 Sep 1968 w/o in ground accident on French roads.
XL736 : held privately at Moordrecht; Holzerlingen, nr Stuttga+
stored at IHM Weston-super-Mare, May 2011. Still there +
S2/5069 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL738 : AOP.12 del AAC Sep 1958; HTF; 651 Sq
w/o 15 Feb 1963; to 7860M
Boom of XL738 joined with pod of XL769 c 1973 or earlie+
To Ivybridge, Devon, still there Aug 2001
S2/5070 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 SC+502 : Built as Mk.51 by SARO, ff Jul 1958.
to SBAC Farnborough Air Show Sep 1958 in West German Na+
DE SC+502 : del MFG 3 at Nordholz mid Oct 1958.
till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5071 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL739 : AOP.12 Built by Saunders Roe del AAC Sep 1958
15/19 Hussars; w/o 8 Oct 1968
Preserved outside 4 REGT HQ by .
Stored in UK by
displayed on a pole at 3 REGT HQ since at least Jan 200+
Norfolk Tank Museum by Mar19
S2/5073 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PC+120 : to HFB 3 as PC+120 during Oct 1958
PF+159 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
DE PF+159 : ex PC+120 / HFB 3; to PF+159 / HFB 6 until Jun 1961; to+
S2/5074 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL762 : AOP.12. Appeared at 1958 SBAC Farnborough Air Show, dd +
28sep14 pictured preserved at the National Museum of Fl+
XL762 Museum of Flight, East Fortune : Acquired by Museum of Flight, . Still present 2013.
S2/5075 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL763 : AOP.12 del AAC Sep 1958; 2 Div; 654 Sq; Air Troop 15/19+
Southall Tech College by Nov 1969, still there by Jul 1+
Stored at Ottershaw, Surrey by 1994
To Ivybridge, Devon by c , still there Aug 2001
In storage at Storwood, Yorks by Nov 2012
s2/5076 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL764 : dd Sep 1958 to Eastleigh and on to Army Air Corps at Mi+
In Feb 1964 it returned and went between the A&AEE at B+
To 7940M at the Army Apprentice School at Arborfield du+
UK XL764 : Sold in and displayed at Nostell Priory.
To Newark Air Museum in Jul 1980, where it wears the co+
pictured at Newark Air Museum
S2/5077 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PC+121 : to HFB 3 as PC+121 during Oct 1958
PF+160 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
DE PF+160 : ex PC+121 / HFB 3; to PF+160 / HFB 6 until Jun 1961; to+
S2/5078 Skeeter 7 1958 XL765 : Saunders Roe, ff 19 Sep 1958
UK XL765 : 651 Sq 2 Feb 1959; trials at Middle Wallop between Jul +
to 15MU 16 Jun 1967; SoC 27 May 1968 and sold to privat+
to University of Leeds, Dept. of Engineering 1969. Tho+
to Leamington Spa; to Leverstock Green
to Melksham, for restoration by Mar 2016.
S2/5082 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PC+122 : to HFB 3 during Dec 1958
PF+155 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
DE PF+155 : ex PC+122 / HFB 3; to PF+155 / HFB 6 until Jun 1961; to+
S2/5083 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE SC+503 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5085 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL769 : Del Army Dec 1958
to 7981M
Composite airframe: pod of XL769, mated with boom of XL+
to Handforth by for restoration (potentially as G-BDNS+
UK G-BDNS : Restoration believed incomplete. Reg G-BDNS Jan 1976, c+
S2/5086 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL770 : AOP.12 Del AAC Dec 1958.
654 Sq; 652 Sq; 15/19 Hussars; soc May 1968
to Arborfield Jul 1969 as 8046M
At RMCS Shrivenham by Jan 1980, still 1984
S2/5092 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE SC+504 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5094 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL809 : AOP.12 Feb 1959 to AAC; 652 Sq; 654 Sq; 22 Flt; 652 Sq;+
AAC Skeeter AOP.12 unk to PH-SRE
NL PH-SRE : ex XL809 unk to PH-HOF
NL PH-HOF : ex PH-SRE 03may84 to G-BLIX
XL809 : G-BLIX, to Sywell Oct 1988 in airworthy condition
to Bedford area by Oct 2015
S2/5095 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL810 : while with 9 Flight in Germany, hit power cables, cras+
S2/5096 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL811 : to AAC. 651 Sq, 652 Sq, 17 Flt., Air Troop 9/12 Lancers+
XL811 : to Northern Aircraft Preservation Society Dec 1968
to Historic Aircraft Museum, Southend until c May 1983+
to International Helicopter Museum, W-s-M Sep 1992. Sti+
S2/5097 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL812 : AAC Skeeter AOP12 d/d 13mar59; to G-SARO
to Rotherham. Left Rotherham for Blackpool by road on 3+
UK G-SARO : to Blackpool for restoration to flying condition, compl+
UK private Jul78-Nov00; Nov00-Apr10
Reg Canx by CAA 14apr10
UK XL812 : AAC Historic Flight
pictured on display at Fairford 2017
S2/5098 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL813 : to Army Historic Aircraft Flight by
S2/5099 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL814 : at Greenham Common
12+13may90 AACHF at North Weald Fighter Meet Airshow
AAC Skeeter AOP12 d/d 06mar59; AAC Historic Flight; pr+
S2/5103 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM527 : AOP.12 for AAC.
AETW Middle Wallop (7820M) by Mar 1978
S2/5107 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM553 : Skeeter AOP.12; preserved at Yorkshire Air Museum, Eng+
UK G-AWSV : ex XM553
to G-AWSV Oct 1968; visited Farnborough Air Show 1972
S2/5109 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM555 : Skeeter AOP.12 d/d 14jul59; to 8027M; on display at NE+
to 654 Sq by Aug 1959; to 652 Sq by Jun 1964 to c Oct 1+
to RAF Ternhill as Gate Guard by Apr 1974
On display at RAF Shawbury by Sep 1976, still Mar 1980;+
to RAF Museum Cosford by Sep 1983
to RAF Museum, Hendon (for storage ?) date ?; to RAF Mu+
to NE LSAM by May 2015, still there Mar 2018
S2/5110 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM556 : Skeeter AOP.12 to Army Air Corps
to 654 Sq Sep 1959
to RAF CFS / V in Jul 1961 and known as Skeeter T.13 (b+
to 7870M Dec 1964; to Army Apprentice College, Chepstow+
to Flint Technical College by Nov 1972. Subsequently fi+
26 Jun 1977 as /V in the static display at RAF Greenham+
to Briitsh Rotorcraft Museum as (G-HELI) /V by Mar 197+
XM556 : painted in German colours as SC+117 and exhibited at Ga+
S2/5112 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM557 : AOP.12 built by Saunders Roe, del Jul 1959.
1 Wing; 652 Sq; 654 Sq; 4 Flt; 652 Sq; 17 Flt; 26 Regt
XM557 : held privately at Moordrecht Oct 1969; Holzerlingen, nr+
stored at IHM Weston-super-Mare, Jan 2011. Still there +
S2/5116 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM561 : ff Sep1959. to Army Oct 1959.
to Arborfield by Nov 1967 as 7980M; to Middle Wallop by+
to Moston College of FE by Oct 1975, still there Jan 19+
to Tattershall Thorpe by Feb 1983; to Lincolnshire Avia+
departed East Kirby for South Yorkshire Air Museum, Fir+
to Aeroventure / SYAM Doncaster (presented as XM651 by +
pictured at Aeroventure, Doncaster, under cover, paint+
S2/5119 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM564 : dd Dec 1959 to Army Air Corps; 652 Sq, CFS, 12 Flt, 652+
Mar 1969 presented to the Tank Museum by 2 RTR
Jan 1977 Gate Guard at the Tank Museum
Tank Museum, Bovington by , still 1983, 1996, Oct 2011.
XM564 : 25jun16 at Bovington Tank Museum, Vehicle Conservation +
S2/5120 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM565 : AOP.12 del Nov 1959; 651 Sq
to MW as G.I. 7861M Sep 1964
to Southampton; to Fleetlands; to Middle Wallop; to Ivy+
In storage at Storwood, Yorks by Jul 2013
S2/7147 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN341 : dd Feb 1960 to AAC. 651 Sq, Air Troop 3 RTR, soc c 1970
UK XN341 : arr 4 SoTT as 8022M at St Athan by Jul 1968, until sold+
In static display at Chivenor Air Show 1970
XN341 : To Stondon Transport Museum, Lower Stondon, since at le+
13/21 Sep15 for sale on Ebay from seller in Shrewsbury,+
Stands on a roof of a dumpstore in Maasbracht, Holland +
S2/7150 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN344 : 652 Sq; 654 Sq
to GI as 8018M at Middle Wallop by Aug 1968.
to Science Museum, South Kensington by Apr 1975, still +
25 Sep 2019 pictured (pic1) at The Science Museum, Sout+
S2/7151 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN345 : AOP.12 built by Saunders Roe, del Mar 1960.
1 Wing; 655 Sq; 654 Sq; 17 Flt; 652 Sq; 17 Flt; 26 Reg+
XN345 : held privately at Moordrecht Oct 1969; Holzerlingen, nr+
stored at IHM Weston-super-Mare, Jan 2011. Still there +
S2/7154 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN348 : AOP.12 Del AAC Jun 1960
to AAC Museum Middle Wallop by Jul 1970
UK 8024M : Jul 1968 to RAF Binbrook as G I Airframe, until c Jun /+
XN348 : at Bückeberg helicopter museum by Apr 1974, still ther+
S2/7157 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN351 : 651 Sq, 652 Sq, 3 RTR Air Troop, Wroughton, Shuttlewort+
at Inverness Airport before May 1990 (reg G-BKSC). Depa+
Arrived 10 Jun 1992 in Inverness area, for restoration
XN351 Torbay Aircraft Museum : on loan to Torbay Aircraft Museum May 1971. Still there+
to Wales Aircraft Museum 1980 and into restoration, to +
Preserved in Norwich area by Jan 2014, still in Jan 201+
SR.904 Skeeter 6 1954 UK G-ANMG : Reg G-ANMG 1 May 1954. To British Army evaluation as A+
UK XK773 : Ex G-ANMG, for evaluation as Army AOP.6, initially at C+
at SBAC Farnborough Air Show 1955, in overall metal fin+
w/o 21 Jun 1956 after rotor struck ground and overturne+
SR.905 Skeeter 6 1954 UK G-ANMH : reg G-ANMH May 1954. First Skeeter 6 to fly on 29 Aug +
to SBAC Farnborough Air Show Sep 1954
XJ355 : ex G-ANMH; to XJ355 for trials, from c Aug 1955 at A&AE+
to SBAC Farnborough Air Show Sep 1957
SR.906 Skeeter 6 1954 UK G-ANMI : Skeeter 6 reg G-ANMI May 1954
XK964 : Military trials Mar-Jul 1956, intensively focussing on +
UK G-ANMI : returned to civil marks. Second (and last) Skeeter to +
to SBAC Farnborough Air Show Sep 1956
Retired by SARO in Aug 1960 and formally notified as wi+
SR.907 Skeeter 5 1953 UK G-AMDC : Allocated G-AMDC in early 1952 (ntu ?), to G-AMTZ Aug 1+
UK G-AMTZ : first Skeeter to be built with a SARO construction numb+
to SBAC Farnborough Air Show Sep 1953

UK XG303 : Allocated XG303 in Mar 1954 for trials by A&AEE Boscomb+
XG303 : Skeeter 6 Conv, to Skeeter 6 (with a Gypsy Major 200 engine) from+
UK G-AMTZ : May 1957 modified to fit a Napier NRE.19 peroxide tank +
attended SBAC Farnborough Air Show Sep 1957
Attended a well publicised Helicopter Garden Party in J+
Sold to Army Air Corps and civil registration cancelled+
W.14/2 Skeeter 2 1949 UK G-ALUF : Improved prototype model from the Skeeter 1, reg G-ALUF+
Appeared at SBAC Farnborough show for Sep 1949 as a sta+
First flight at Eastleigh on 15 Nov 1949.
shaken to pieces by ground resonance on 26 Jun 1950.
W.14/3 Skeeter 3 1951 UK WF112 : first flew Oct 1951 as Skeeter 3.
early , replaced the Gypsy Major 8 engine with the Bomb+
appeared at the 1952 Farnborough Air Show.
w/o 28 Apr 1953 at Southampton
W.14/4 Skeeter 3 1951 UK WF113 : second of two Skeeter 3 funded by Ministry of Supply as+
after trials, re-engined by early 1952 with the Cirrus +
To A&AEE during Mar 1953, but resonance problems remain+
after further resonance reduction research and modifica+
W.14/5 Skeeter 4 1952 UK WF114 : Third of three prototypes funded by the UK Ministry of +
to A&AEE during Mar 1953 for trials - resonance issues +
49 C/N.

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