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  • 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

    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 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 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 Saunders Roe Skeeter

    From Organisation with model Skeeter
    united kingdom UK Government
        7 1950/55
    united kingdom Fleet Air Arm
        2 1952
    united kingdom Army Air Corps
        Skeeter 6A 3 1957/63
    germany Marineflieger
        4 1958/60
    germany Heeresflieger
        6 1958/60
    united kingdom Army Air Corps
        Skeeter 7 64 1958/67
    portugal Força Aérea Portuguesa
        Skeeter Mk.50 6 1961
    portugal Força Aérea Portuguesa
        Skeeter Mk.51 4 1961
    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
    3Skeeter 6
    1Skeeter 6A
    1Skeeter 6B
    39Skeeter 7
    3Skeeter 8
    6Skeeter Mk.50
    4Skeeter Mk.51

    Construction Numbers

    Help Us

    C/NBuilt asYearHistory
    S2/3012 Skeeter 6B 1956 UK XK479
    S2/3070 Skeeter 6A 1958 UK XK482,G-BJWC
    S2/5061 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PT G-12-2,PC+117,9301,PF+156
    S2/5062 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PT PC+118,PF+157,9302
    S2/5063 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PT PC+119,PF+158,9303
    S2/5064 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL734
    S2/5065 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE PT SC+501,9304
    S2/5066 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL735
    S2/5067 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL736
    S2/5068 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL737
    S2/5069 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL738
    S2/5070 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE PT SC+502,9305
    S2/5071 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL739
    S2/5073 Skeeter Mk.50 1958 DE PT PC+120,PF+159,9306
    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 PC+121,PF+160,9307
    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 PC+122,PF+155,9308
    S2/5083 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE PT SC+503,9309
    S2/5085 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL769,G-BDNS
    S2/5086 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL770
    S2/5091 Skeeter 8 1958 G-APOJ
    S2/5092 Skeeter Mk.51 1958 DE PT SC+504,9310
    S2/5094 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL809,PH-SRE,PH-HOF,G-BLIX
    S2/5095 Skeeter 7 1958 UK XL810
    S2/5096 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL811
    S2/5097 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XL812,G-SARO
    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 XM553,G-AWSV
    S2/5109 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM555
    S2/5110 Skeeter 7 1959 UK XM556
    S2/5111 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 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 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN347
    S2/7154 Skeeter 7 1960 UK XN348,8024M
    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 Skeeter 2 1949 G-ALUF
    W.14/3 Skeeter 3 1951 UK WF112
    W.14/4 Skeeter 3 1951 UK WF113
    W.14/5 Skeeter 4 1952 UK WF114
    62 C/N.

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