Westland Wessex 31A/31B

Westland Wessex 31A/31B

Wessex Article Click on button for detailed article on the Wessex.

Twenty-seven Wessex Mk 31A helicopters were introduced in 1962-63. The aircraft were upgraded to Mk 31B in 1969 with the addition of station-keeping radar and improved sonar. They were enployed as anti-submarine aircraft from ashore and from HMAS Melbourne until taking on a general utility role in the late 1970s.

In their AS role the Wessex was able to deliver a variety of weapons including depth charges or lightweight torpedoes.  In the utility role the weapon mounting points carried external fuel tanks to extend the range.

Apart from HMAS Melbourne, the Wessex served in various ways on HMAS Sydney, Tobruk, Success and Stalwart – all together serving 27-years with the RAN.

Manufacturer: Westland Helicopters Ltd
Type: anti-submarine and Utility/SAR helicopter
Delivered: 27 helicopters, 1962-63
Crew: four in AS role, two in utility

  • 31A: one 1,540 shp Napier Gazelle 162 turbine.
  • 31B: one 1,600shp Napier Gazelle 165C turbine.

Speed: 108 knots
Range: 262 nautical miles
Withdrawn: 1989

Below.  A brand new Wessex arrives at ALBATROSS circa 1962. Note the packing case behind.