united kingdom Wessex Intensive Flying Trials Unit

Royal Air Force

Wessex IFTU

1963 to 1964    

Formed on 1 Jul 1963 at RAF Odiham to introduce the Wessex HC.2 into RAF service. Disbanded 27 Jan 1964 to form the nucleus of 18 Squadron.

The unit was formed in East Hangar, a rusty old shed with holes in the roof which used to house a fleet of Landrovers and other Radio vehicles. These vehicles were moved to a sound hangar and four brand new Wessex aircraft started to arrive I believe in the August of 1963. We had to operate off of the grass which as it was on a slope presented us with many problems with ground handling of the aircraft. The aircraft were delivered XR499, XR500, XR501, and XR502. We assumed that we would receive more in numerical order so they were coded XR499 (A) XR500 (B) XR501 (C) and XR502 (D). After a few weeks XR500 got bounced somewhat heavily at RAF Shawbury and we were sent XR504 which was coded (F). However XR503 never arrived nor XR505 so the coding did not follow correctly, even XR500 went somewhere else. By Jan 1964 we were moved into number 1 Hangar were we stayed until we left for Gutersloh in the January 1965. D.Gash
I understand that XR500 suffered its "bounce" at CFS helicopter wing at RAF Tern Hill in 1963. The unit was not moved to Shawbury until a year or two later. (I joined 18 Squadron on the day of its reformation in 1964, after having converted to choppers at Tern Hill from September 19063. The dented fuselage of XR500 was already there at Tern Hill by the time my course started.)

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1963/64RAF OdihamEGVO


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