Wessex HU.5 (XT765)
Falklands War History
Westland Wessex XT765 was with 845 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton in March 1982. As 845 squadron prepared to go to the South Atlantic XT765 was allocated to ‘B’ Flight along with XT468 and flown by a heavy-lift aircraft to Ascension Island to join the Royal Fleet Auxiliary supply ship Fort Austin. Whilst at Ascension both aircraft of ‘B’ Flight were equipped as gunships with AS.12 wire-guided missiles, 2 inch rocket pods and a 7.62 mm machine gun. On the 23rd April ‘B’ Flight sailed south with Fort Austin entering the Falklands Islands Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) on the 3rd May. XT765 was soon in action transferring survivors from the stricken HMS Sheffield to Fort Austin.
After a period of deployments to other ships the ‘B’ Flight aircraft ended up on the container ship Atlantic Conveyor. Both had lucky escapes as XT765 was sent to Stromness on the 21st May and XT468 was undertaking a test flight when the Atlantic Conveyor was lost to an Exocet missile on the 25th May.
Still in the gunship configuration XT765 disembarked from Stromness to Ajax Bay in support of 45 Commando. It then moved around a series of temporary airfields, called Forward Operating Bases (FOB) supporting ground troops, providing transport & communication and battle field support. From the FOB at Port Stanley Racecourse XT765 flew onto HMS Hermes on the 3rd of July, the day the aircraft carrier departed for the UK. Hermes arrived in Portsmouth on the 21st of July and the next day XT765 flew back to Yeovilton.
The Wessex HU.5 (XT765) was designed for commando assault duties from aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships. It also provided a very capable Search and Rescue (SAR) platform. This aircraft first flew in December 1966 and joined 845 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton in May 1973. After performing office guardian duties for 848 Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton it was transferred to the Fleet Air Arm Museum in 2011.
(Photo: Peter Manley)
Type: Commando transport and SAR
Crew: Pilot, co-pilot. Up to 16 passengers
Length: 48ft 1 1/2ins
Engine: 2 Rolls-Royce Bristol Gnome H-1200
Dates Service: 1964 – March 1988
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