australia Operation Grapple

Christmas Island, Pacific Ocean

01-may-57    to    30-sep-58

Operation Grapple was conducted in several parts to test weapons produced in Britains thermonuclear development programme. It followed from the Operation Mosaic series of fusion bomb tests, held in mid 1956 off Monte Bello Island (Australia) and the Operation Buffalo test series held on mainland Australia in late 1956. The first Grapple series tests were on 15 May, 31 May and 19 Jun 1957 involving air drops from Valiants of 49 Squadron on Malden Island. The second Grapple tests were held around Christmas Island between Nov 1957 and Sep 1958 also using an air drop from Valiants of 49 Squadron and balloon supported detonations. Canberras, and the Whirlwinds of 217 Squadron were also present.
In addition to the RAF presence, after re-fit with an angled flight deck, the ex Light Fleet Carrier, HMS Warrior sailed from HMNB Portstmouth during February 1957 to provide a maritime arifield. The Ships Flight Whirlwind HAR.3 took part in the operation.


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DatesRotary Wing Aircraft UnitModels
    UK 217 squadron Royal Air Force whirlwind
    may57 to nov57 UK 1439 (Communications Support) Flight Royal Air Force whirlwind
    jun57 to jan58 UK 1362 (Meteorological) Flight Royal Air Force whirlwind

Not all models shown may have taken part in the Operation

Individual helicopters

Model IDs
Westland Whirlwind HAR.3 XG579     XG584     XG588    
Westland Whirlwind HAR.4 XD164    


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Aircraft Carrier  Colossus class   Royal Navy R31 HMS Warrior,

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