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 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/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. The programme was taken over when Saund ...
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 ...
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 Marineflieger
    4 1958/60
germany Heeresflieger
    6 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 6
1Skeeter 6B

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+
S2/5061 UK G-12-2 : mk.50, built at Cowes, to Federal German Army
DE PC+117 : PF+156 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
PT 9301 : ex West German Army. acquired Jun 1961 , never flown.
S2/5062 DE PC+118 : PF+157 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5063 DE PC+119 : PF+158 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5065 1958 DE SC+501 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5066 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
S2/5067 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 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 1958 DE SC+502 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5071 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 1989.
Stored in UK by 1995
displayed on a pole at 3 REGT HQ since at least Jan 200+
Norfolk Tank Museum by Mar19
S2/5073 DE PC+120 : PF+159 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5074 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, 1975. Still present 2013+
S2/5075 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 1995, still there Aug 2001
s2/5076 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 1975 and displayed at Nostell Priory.
To Newark Air Museum in Jul 1980, where it wears the co+
18Jun05 pictured at Newark Air Museum
S2/5077 DE PC+121 : PF+160 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5078 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 and sold to private owner Aug 1968
to University of Leeds, Dept. of Engineering 1969. Tho+
S2/5082 DE PC+122 : PF+155 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5083 1958 DE SC+503 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5085 1958 UK XL769 : Del Army Dec 1958
to 7981M
Composite airframe: pod of XL769, mated with boom of XL+
to Handforth by 1975 for restoration (potentially as G-+
UK G-BDNS : Restoration believed incomplete. Reg G-BDNS Jan 1976, c+
S2/5086 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 1984
S2/5092 1958 DE SC+504 : till 1959, 1961 to Portugal, 06.61 Alverca scrapped
S2/5094 1959 UK XL809 : 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
S2/5095 UK XL810 : while with 9 Flight in Germany, hit power cables, cras+
S2/5096 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 1972 until c May +
to International Helicopter Museum, W-s-M Sep 1992. Sti+
S2/5097 1962 UK XL812 : AAC Skeeter AOP12 d/d 13mar59; to G-SARO
to Rotherham. Left Rotherham for Blackpool on 30 Apr 19+
UK G-SARO : UK private Jul78-Nov00; Nov00-Apr10
Reg Canx by CAA 14apr10
UK XL812 : AAC Historic Flight
15jul17 pictured on display at Fairford 2017
S2/5099 UK XL814 : Jun79 at Greenham Common
12+13may90 AACHF at North Weald Fighter Meet Airshow
AAC Skeeter AOP12 d/d 06mar59; AAC Historic Flight; 201+
S2/5103 1959 UK XM527 : AOP.12 for AAC.
AETW Middle Wallop (7820M) by Mar 1978
S2/5107 UK XM553 : Skeeter AOP.12; preserved at Yorkshire Air Museum, Eng+
UK G-AWSV : ex XM553
S2/5109 1959 UK XM555 : Skeeter AOP.12 d/d 14jul59; to 8027M; on display at NE+
to NE LSAM by May 2015, still there Mar 2018
S2/5110 1959 UK XM556 : Skeeter AOP.12 to Army Air Corps
7 Jul 1962 in the hangar display at 50th Anniversary of+
26 Jun 1977 as /V in the static display at RAF Greenham+
to 7870M. Subsequently fitted with boom of XM529 / 797+
to Flint Technical College by Nov 1972
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 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 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; to Tattershall Tho+
to Aeroventure / SYAM Doncaster (presented as XM651 by +
S2/5119 1958 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 1979, still 1983, 1996, Oct 2+
XM564 : 25jun16 at Bovington Tank Museum, Vehicle Conservation +
S2/7147 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 Dec 1971, until sold+
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 +
S2/7151 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 1960 UK XN348 : AOP.12 Del AAC Jun 1960
at B├╝ckeberg helicopter museum by 1974, still there 19+
UK 8024M : Jul 1968 to RAF Binbrook as G I Airframe, until c Jun /+
S2/7157 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, to G-BKSC reg 13 Dec 199+
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
w/o 21 Jun 1956 after rotor struck ground and overturne+
SR.907 1953 UK G-AMDC : Allocated G-AMDC in early 1952 (ntu ?), to G-AMTZ
UK G-AMTZ : Attended a well publicised Helicopter Party in Jun 1958+
returned to civil reg after trials. Sold to Army Air Co+
UK XG303 : Allocated XG303 in Mar 1954 for trials by A&AEE Boscomb+
XG303 : Skeeter 6 Conv, to Skeeter 6 from Skeeter 5, during 1955.
39 C/N.

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