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 laid down for UK Certificate of Airworthiness tests, but only 1 was completed and no civil orders were placed. 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 of Skeeter

Cierva W.14 Skeeter 1

1948 The Skeeter 1 was the Cierva Autogiro Company attempt at producing a small, single engined helicopter and design work began in 1947. The program ...
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

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 6A

1957 Three Skeeter 6A produced as the AOP.10 for the British Army in 1957.
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 8

1958 The Skeeter 8 was basically a civilianisation of the Skeeter 7 for commercial operations. 3 were laid down for UK Certificate of Airworthiness te ...
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 Skeeter

Years Model Org
1950/55 united kingdom UK Government
1952 united kingdom Fleet Air Arm
1957/63 Skeeter 6A united kingdom Army Air Corps
1958/60 germany Marineflieger
1958/60 germany Heeresflieger
1958/67 Skeeter 7 united kingdom Army Air Corps
1961 Skeeter Mk.50 portugal Força Aérea Portuguesa
1961 Skeeter Mk.51 portugal Força Aérea Portuguesa
1980-    united kingdom Newark (Notts & Lincs) Air Museum

  Global Distribution of Skeeter

1Skeeter 2
2Skeeter 3
1Skeeter 4
1Skeeter 5
3Skeeter 6
1Skeeter 6A
1Skeeter 6B
39Skeeter 7
3Skeeter 8
6Skeeter Mk.50
4Skeeter Mk.51

Construction Numbers

C/N Built as Year History
S2/3012 scrapped 1962 Skeeter 6B 1956 UK XK479
S2/3070 Skeeter 6A 1958 UK G-BJWC,XK482
S2/5061 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PT 9301,G-12-2,PC+117,PF+156
S2/5062 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PT 9302,PC+118,PF+157
S2/5063 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PT 9303,PC+119,PF+158
S2/5064 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL734
S2/5065 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE PT 9304,SC+501
S2/5066 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL735
S2/5067 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL736
S2/5068 w/o 1962 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL737
S2/5069 w/o 1963 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL738
S2/5070 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE PT 9305,SC+502
S2/5071 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL739
S2/5073 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PT 9306,PC+120,PF+159
S2/5074 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL762
S2/5075 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL763
s2/5076 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL764
S2/5077 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PT 9307,PC+121,PF+160
S2/5078 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL765
S2/5080 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL767
S2/5081 Skeeter 8 1958 UK G-APOI
S2/5082 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PT 9308,PC+122,PF+155
S2/5083 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE PT 9309,SC+503
S2/5085 scrapped 1985 Skeeter 7 1958 UK G-BDNS,XL769
S2/5086 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL770
S2/5091 scrapped 1958 Skeeter 8 1958 G-APOJ
S2/5092 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE PT 9310,SC+504
S2/5094 Skeeter 7 1959 UK G-BLIX,PH-HOF,PH-SRE,XL809
S2/5095 w/o 1966 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL810
S2/5096 w/o 1967 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL811
S2/5097 Skeeter 7 1959 UK G-SARO,XL812
S2/5098 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL813
S2/5099 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL814
S2/5103 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM527
S2/5107 Skeeter 7 1959 UK G-AWSV,XM553
S2/5109 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM555
S2/5110 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM556
S2/5111 scrapped 1958 Skeeter 8 1958 G-APOK
S2/5112 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM557
S2/5116 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM561
S2/5119 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM564
S2/5120 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM565
S2/7145 w/o 1968 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XN339
S2/7147 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN341
S2/7150 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN344
S2/7151 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN345
S2/7153 w/o 1965 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN347
S2/7154 Skeeter 7 1960 UK 8024M,XN348
S2/7156 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN350
S2/7157 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN351
S2/7158 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN352
S2/7159 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN353
S2/7160 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN354
S2/7161 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN355
SR.904 Skeeter 6 1954 UK G-ANMG,XK773
SR.905 Skeeter 6 1954 G-ANMH,XJ355
SR.906 Skeeter 6 1954 UK G-ANMI,XK964
SR.907 Skeeter 5 1952 UK G-AMDC,G-AMTZ,XG303
W.14/2 w/o 1950 Skeeter 2 1949 G-ALUF
W.14/3 Skeeter 3 1951 UK WF112
W.14/4 w/o 1953 Skeeter 3 1951 UK WF113
W.14/5 Skeeter 4 1952 UK WF114

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