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Wessex HAS.3 (XP142)

Wessex HAS.3 (XP142)

Falklands War History

Humphrey is one of the most famous aircraft of the Falklands Conflict and was the helicopter stationed aboard the destroyer HMS Antrim.  Antrim was one of several ships sent to retake the Islands of South Georgia, as part of Operation Paraquat.

On the 21st April Humphrey led two other Wessex HU.5 helicopters onto the Fortuna Glacier to drop Special Forces troops with orders to observe Argentinean positions at Grytviken.  The weather was appalling and deteriorated, forcing the troops to request evacuation.  Using its radar to guide them through the storm Humphrey led the helicopters back to collect the troops.  Blizzard conditions caused the other helicopters to crash as they tried to take off from the glacier.  Humphrey made a return trip to rescue all the troops and crew. On the 23rd April Humphrey was back in action, locating and retrieving more Special Forces troops from their disabled boat.

The Argentinean submarine, Santa Fe, was reported in the area.  On the 25th April Humphrey was sent out on patrol and spotted the Santa Fe on the surface.  Humphrey’s crew attacked with depth charges damaging the submarine. Helicopters from other ships joined the attack with torpedoes and AS.12 missiles, causing Santa Fe to be abandoned.

By May Antrim had joined other ships to assist with the landings on the main Falkland Islands. She was attacked by Argentinian Dagger jets that strafed her with their canons.  Humphrey was damaged by splinters from the shells, making many holes that are still visible.  These holes were patched with tape and Humphrey carried on flying.

The Wessex HAS.3, recognizable by its “thimble” radome behind the rotor head, improved on the HAS.1 through the introduction of a more powerful engine.  It also had search radar and dunking sonar of greater capability.  Although obsolete by 1972, 737 Squadron maintained HAS.3s on county class destroyers as the replacement Sea Kings were too big for the hangars.  Only two HAS.3s were deployed to the Falklands, on HMS Antrim and HMS Glamorgan.  Humphrey was on display in the Fleet Air Arm Museum by the 31st July 1982, just a few weeks after the conflict ended.

Statistics

Type: Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW)

Crew: Pilot, co-pilot. 1 or 2 crew in the cabin

Length: 65ft 10ins

Engine: Single 1600shp Napier Gazelle 165

Speed: 135mph

Dates Service: 1967 - 1982


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