Westland Scout – XP885, British Army 1/72


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From the Amercom helicopter series comes this brilliant 1/72 scale Westland Scout in the attractive livery of the British Army. The Westland Scout was a general purpose military light helicopter developed by Westland Helicopters. It was closely related to the Westland Wasp naval helicopter.

Constructed of a mixture of metal and plastic, complete with stand in a sealed plastic blister and foreign language brochure. Amercom/Altaya have vastly improved the finish of their products recently, as these have properly indented, authentic looking panel lines. Get one while you can!!

The Scout formed the backbone of the Army Air Corps throughout the 1960s and well into the 1970s; the first Scout flew on 29 August 1960 and an initial order for 66 aircraft followed a month after its first flight. Engine problems delayed the introduction of the Scout until 1963, and as an interim measure the Army Air Corps received a small number of Allouette II helicopters. Although the aircraft’s entry into service was delayed, the Scout still had a number of teething troubles when it was introduced. One of the earliest losses was XR596, which crashed into the jungle near Kluang airfield in Southern Malaya, 16 July 1964, following a fuel pump failure. The two crew died in the incident. Engine failures were responsible for the loss of at least eleven military and civilian registered aircraft. The engine life of the Nimbus during the early part of its service was notoriously low, with four to six flying hours being the norm. A competition was allegedly held, with a prize to the first unit that could achieve an engine life of twenty-five flying hours. Operational experience and development work steadily improved the reliability of the Nimbus and by 1964 engine life had improved to two/three engine changes per 1,000 flying hours.
The Scout AH Mk 1 was operated by the Army Air Corps on general light work, including observation and liaison. Like the Wasp, the Scout could be fitted out with different role equipment including flotation gear and a Lucas, air-driven hoist which had a lift capacity of 600 lb (270 kg). In the light attack role it was capable of carrying one pintle machine gun in the rear cabin (it is possible to carry two pintle mounted GPMGs in the cabin, although this would, unsurprisingly, be somewhat cramped) or two forward-firing 7.62mm L7 General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) fixed to the undercarriage skid. These GPMG combinations were sometimes used in unison to great effect.
The forward firing GPMGs were electrically operated, being fired by the pilot and aimed using a rudimentary system of drawing a small cross on the windscreen with a chinagraph pencil. In sandy conditions these weapons could jam, which necessitated one of the free crew to lean out of the cockpit door and ‘boot’ the offending weapon in hope of clearing it. This procedure was not strictly in accordance with the flight reference cards. The L7A1 pintle mounted weapon was operated by a door gunner.

In the anti-tank role four SS.11 ATGWs were carried, these could be carried in conjunction with the pintle mounted GPMG. During the Falklands campaign the SS.11 achieved some success, being used to attack Argentine positions 14 June 1982. For night time reconnaissance the Scout could carry four 4.5-inch (110 mm) parachute flares mounted on special carriers. In addition, two smaller parachute flares could be carried to allow emergency landings at night. These were fitted on the starboard rear fuselage on a special attachment point. About 150 Scout helicopters were acquired for the Army Air Corps and were operated by them up until 1994.

At the start of “Operation Corporate” (The Falklands War) six Scouts from 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron were operating alongside three machines from No. 656 Squadron AAC, and when 5 Infantry Brigade landed they were joined by another three Scouts from 656 Squadron. During the Falklands conflict the Scout was engaged in CASEVAC, re-supply and Special Forces insertion roles. One aircraft, XT629, was one of two Scouts of B Flight 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron, that was attacked by two FMA IA 58 Pucarás (the only Argentine air-to-air victory in the war) of Grupo 3 near Camilla Creek House, North of Goose Green. XT629 was hit by cannon fire and crashed, killing the pilot and severing the leg of the crewman, who was thrown clear of the wreckage on impact. The second Scout evaded the Pucarás and later returned to the site to CASEVAC the survivor. Another Scout, XR628, of 656 Sqn AAC, suffered a main rotor gearbox failure whilst in a low hover over MacPhee Pond, 8 June 1982. XR628 had taken cover as two pairs of A-4 Skyhawks from Grupo 5 approached, these aircraft later attacked the RFA LSLs Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram at Bluff Cove. Once the threat had passed and the pilot began to climb away, the main gearbox failed at the main input drive and the aircraft made a forced landing at the lakeside in around four feet of water. The two crew were picked up another 656 Sqn Scout piloted by Capt J G Greenhalgh later that day. The aircraft was eventually recovered and airlifted to Fitzroy by Sea King on 11 June, but was subsequently written off on its return to the UK. Following research at the National Archive, Kew, it has been determined that XR628 was the same aircraft that was shot down duringb the Aden conflict on 26 May 1964, carrying 3 Para CO Lt Col Farrar-Hockley.
Scouts armed with SS.11 anti-tank missiles were used to great effect during the Falklands campaign. On 14 Jun 1982, an Argentine 105 mm Pack Howitzer battery dug in to the West of Stanley Racecourse was firing at the Scots Guards as they approached Mount Tumbledown. As the guns were out of range of the Milan ATGWs of nearby 2 Para, their 2IC, Major Chris Keeble, contacted Capt J G Greenhalgh of 656 Sqn AAC on the radio and requested a HELARM using SS.11 missiles to attack on them. As he was engaged in ammunition re-supply, his Scout was not fitted with missile booms. This was in order to reduce weight and increase the aircraft lift capability. Capt Greenhalgh then returned to Estancia House, where his aircraft was refuelled, fitted out, and armed with four missiles in 20 minutes with the rotors still turning. An ‘O’ group was then held with the crews of two Scouts of 3 CBAS and Capt Greenhalgh took off on a reconnaissance mission, while the other aircraft were fitted out and readied. Within 20 minutes he had located the target and carried out a detailed recce of the area. He fired two missiles at the enemy positions and then returned to a pre-arranged RV to meet up and guide in the other two Scouts. The three aircraft, positioned 100 metres apart, then fired a total of ten missiles (nine missiles hit, one failed) from the ridge overlooking the Argentine positions 3000m away and succeeded in hitting the howitzers, nearby bunkers, an ammunition dump and the command post. The Argentine troops returned mortar fire, a round landing directly in front of Capt Greenhalgh’s Scout.

In Northern Ireland the Scout pioneered the use of the Heli-Tele[19] aerial surveillance system, having a gyro-stabilised Marconi unit shoe-horned into the rear cabin. The Heli-Tele unit weighed some 700 lb (320 kg), although later developments reduced this significantly. The aircraft was also used for mounting Eagle patrols. In this role the rear cabin doors and seats were removed and four troops sat in the rear cabin with their feet resting on the skids. Operating with two aircraft in unison, this allowed an eight man patrol to be quickly inserted into an area and mount snap Vehicle Check Points (VCPs) if necessary.

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