First heavy lift and tandem rotor helicopter for the British armed services. Delivered initially to the Belvedere Trials Unit at RAF Odiham in 1960, and after about a year it entered operational service in Sep 1961 as the Belvedere HC.1. The fleet was grounded between Aug and Sep 1962 following an accident in Germany (which was ultimately caused by a design failure in the cockpit ergonomics).
It had a reputation for unreliable engine starters, which gave trouble throughout most if its operational life and the laminated rotor blades were prone to distintegration during flight. A rectification programme saw it give service in the UK, the Middle East (where dust abrasion of the rotor blades was also problematic) and Far East.
Originally designed for a service life of 1000 flying hours, work during 1964 showed it could be extended to 1700 hours.
It was never hugely successful and was eventually withdrawn in Mar 1969. It did however serve a heavy lift requirement and it was to be 1980 and two false starts later, before the RAF took delivery of the Chinook HC.1 to replace the Belvedere.
I remember using this aircraft on survey operations in Aden in the early 60s. I thought there were some mechanical issues there and ( possibly) an accident. I know they were grounded as my party were "marooned" on a fairly inhospitable and hostile area until "rescued" by the Army Air Corp via scouts.
Seven Belvederes served with 26 Squadron in Aden, Yemen. Two were destroyed in crashes in which 3 crew were killed and 3 were injured. A third aircraft was severely damaged when a starter motor blew up on start up and had to be returned to the Westland factory for a complete rebuild.
|Years||Units||bold : Current base of the Unit|
|1964/66||Belvedere Conversion Unit||RAF Odiham|
|1962/65||26 Squadron|| Khormaksar / Aden International|
|1961/69||66 Squadron|| Seletar|
|1961/64||72 Squadron||RAF Odiham|
|1960/61||Belvedere Trials Unit||RAF Odiham|
List of Aircraft
|C/N||Mod||Built||ID In this Organisation||In other Org|
|13342||1958|| XG447: Single prototype airframe ff 5 Jul 1958 at Bristols Weston-s+|
|13343||1959|| XG448: RAF|
|13344||1959|| XG449: RAF 72 Sqdn; went to 66 sqdn; broken up 1969 Seletar|
|13345||1960|| XG450: RAF|
|13346||1960|| XG451: RAF|
|13347||1960|| XG452: RAF Belvedere Type 192 HC.1; 24jul93 pictured preserved at I+|| XG452: 5th development Belvedere. Used to rectify handling iss+ |
- G-BRMB: xfer UK Civil register as G-BRMB, pres as XG452
|13348||1960|| XG453: RAF|
|13349||1960|| XG454: 7th pre-production airframe; handed over to Belvedere Trials+|
|13350||1963|| XG455: RAF Belvedere HC.1 d/d 15feb63; 16mar69 soc and scr at No+|
|13351||1960|| XG456: RAF|
|13352||1961|| XG457: RAF|
|13353||1961|| XG458: RAF|
|13354||1961|| XG459: RAF|
|13355||1961|| XG460: RAF|
|13356||1960|| XG461: RAF; w/o 31dec64|
|13357||1961|| XG462: RAF; preserved (nose) at Weston-Super-Mare helicopter museum|
|13358||1961|| XG463: del RAF as Belvedere HC.1, XG463, 03Nov61; w/o 30Oct64.|
|13359||1961|| XG464: del RAF as Belvedere HC.1 XG464, 06Dec61; soc and scr at No.+|
|13360||1961|| XG465: del RAF as Belvedere HC.1 XG465, 06Dec61; w/o 30Jul62.|
|13361||1962|| XG466: del RAF as Belvedere HC.1 XG466, 10Jan62; soc and scr at No+|
|13362||1962|| XG467: del RAF as Belvedere HC.1 XG467, 08Mar62; soc and scr at No+|
|13363||1962|| XG468: del RAF as Belvedere HC.1 XG468, 20Feb62; w/o 25Jan68; soc a+|
|13364||1962|| XG473: del RAF as Belvedere HC.1 XG473, 29May62; w/o 04May63.|
|13365||1962|| XG474: del RAF as Belvedere HC.1 XG474, 08Jun62; soc 20Mar69; pres +|
|13366||1962|| XG475: del RAF as Belvedere HC.1 XG475, 10May62; w/o 05Dec63; soc a+|
|13367||1962|| XG476: del RAF as Belvedere HC.1 XG476, 11Oct62; soc and scr at No.+|