united kingdom Air/Sea Warfare Development Unit

Royal Air Force


1945 to 1970    

In part to study the use of helicopters in Air Sea warfare roles, the ASWDU was formed on 14 Jan 1945 at Thorney Island, with the Hoverfly (and various fixed wing types) from the Coastal Command Development Unit. There was a resurgence of interest in early 1952 when the unit reformed at St Mawgan with the Sycamore, before its rotary wing element was incorporated into 22 Squadron in 1955, back at Thorney Island. (The remaining fixed wing unit disbanded on 1 Apr 1970 at Ballykelly).

1955-1956, I was a ground crew wireless fitter posted to ASWADU at St Mawgan. We had a Sycamore copter . Pilot was Sq. Ldr Powell. Did some "bather rescue" trials at Watergate Bay. Main purpose for ASWADU then was keeping our four Shackletons serviceable K, B, A, and D. CO was Wing Cdr Le Band, and Ground Crew Flight Sergeant Powell . Adjutant, Fl Lt Jimmy Wishart. Admin Serg eant, Voller. WJ Whitaker 2730873
1952-54, I was stationed at this unit and was the first to try to be winched by the sycamore first at the end of the runway later taken to sea to be rescued from a dinghy. I was a engine mech doing my national service. I remember the sycamores in 1953 were fitted with sonar to detect submarines and the later Shackleton Mk 2 aircraft arrived with the dustbin underneath. My name is M Hawkins Sac 3137130
1956, I was first line servicing officer, having previously been E&I officer at St Mawgan main station. We had 3 Shackletons 2 Sycamores and 1 Oxford (or was it an Anson?) which we lost when it cut a field of corn near Oxford. F/O John Fieldsend
1957, I was stationed within ASWDU during the 50's and was located in a Hut on the far side of the Airfield. I believe the Group Captain was named Laird? I believe Sgt Voller was our "Boss". Would be interested to hear from others who may have been there at the same time as me. Keith FitzGerald

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1952/55Newquay / St MawganEGHQ
1945/48Thorney IslandEGYT


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1952/55Type 171 Sycamore

Air/Sea Warfare Development Unit List of helicopters

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C/NVersionBuiltIn this OrgIn other Org
12898 Sycamore 3 1950 WV781 : ASWDU St Mawgan; CFS (H); HDU Old Sarum
Bristol Aeroplane Company G-ALTD : reg G-ALTD to Bristol Aeroplane Co on 17 Nov 1950; transferred to RAF 26 M+
- WV781 : to Caernarfon Air World museum by ; cockpit section still displayed 2016.
12899 Sycamore 3 1952 WV782 : to ASWDU St Mawgan
Bristol Aeroplane Company G-ALTE : Reg ntu. To RAF as HR.12 in Apr 1952
12900 Sycamore 3 1952 WV783 : ASWDU St Mawgan; CFS (H); HDU Old Sarum
- G-ALSP : Sycamore 3 G-ALSP assigned but not taken up (ntu)