Westland Wasp

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Westland Wasp

The Westland Wasp was a general purpose helicopter, basically a derivative of the British Army Scout helicopter, with the requirement of being small enough to land on Royal Navy frigates. At that time, frigates of the Royal Navy were much smaller compared to today's Type 22 and Type 23 frigates, and so had much smaller landing decks.


General history

The first flight took place on 28 October 1962 and full production soon commenced, 98 in total being procured for the RN. She was a very successful aircraft, being exported to Brazil, The Netherlands, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and South Africa. An impressive total of 125 aircraft was built in total.


Royal Navy

The Wasp had been taken out of service in the late 1970s with the introduction of the Westland Lynx, a more capable and deadly aircraft. It was brought back into full operational service when war broke out against Argentina, after the latter had invaded and then occupied the Falkland Islands. Seven old frigates were recommissioned and with them being unable to operate the new Lynx it was decided to reintroduce the Wasp. During that war, a Wasp, operating from HMS Endurance, the Antarctic patrol ship, launched a number of torpedoes which homed in on and heavily damaged the Argentinean submarine Santa Fe, which posed a risk to the British Task Force that was steaming towards the Falkland Islands. The submarine was later run aground by her crew due to the damage she had sustained, thus becoming the first casualty of the sea war, as well as the first direct engagement by the Royal Navy Task Force. The last Wasp was finally withdrawn from service in 1988 when the last of the frigates that the Wasp had been designed for was decommissioned.

Royal Malaysian Navy

The Wasp came into service with the Royal Malaysian Navy quite late, compared to the others nations who procured the aircraft. She joined the RMN on 11 May 1990. She had a relatively short career with that Navy though, being phased out just ten years later. Her replacement is to be the Eurocopter Fennec.

Royal New Zealand Navy

The first Wasp was purchased in 1966 being immediately assigned to the new Leander class frigate of the Royal New Zealand Navy, HMNZS Waikato. They provided numerous tasks, as well as taking part in the Armilla Patrol in the Persian Gulf during the 1980s.

In 1997, four Wasps performed a flypast, marking the arrival of the new ANZAC-class frigate, HMNZS Te Kaha.

They were very venerable and long-serving aircraft for the RNZN, two continuing in service until 1988, after an astonishing 32 years in service. HMNZS Waikato, the ship that had first operationally deployed the Wasp, was herself decommissioned that same year. They have since been been replaced by the far more capable SH-2F Seasprite.

Other operators

The Wasps though carried on in service with the Brazilian, Indonesian, and South African navies. In the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Wasp has been replaced by the same helicopter that had replaced it in the Royal Navy.

Specifications (Wasp HAS.I)

General Characteristics

  • Crew: one pilot
  • Capacity: up to four passengers
  • Length: 40 ft 4 in (12.29 m)
  • Main rotor diameter: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 11 in (2.72 m)
  • Main rotor area: 816 ft² (76 m²)
  • Empty: 3,452 lb (1,566 kg)
  • Loaded: lb ( kg)
  • Maximum takeoff: 5,500 lb (2,495 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1x Rolls-Royce Nimbus 103 turboshaft, 1,050 shp (783 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 120 mph (193 km/h)
  • Range: 303 miles (488 km)
  • Service ceiling: ft ( m)
  • Rate of climb: ft/min ( m/min)
  • Main rotor loading: lb/ft² ( kg/m²)
  • Power/Mass: hp/lb ( kW/kg)

Related content

Related development: Westland Scout

Comparable aircraft: Kamov Ka-15 - Aérospatiale Alouette II - Aérospatiale Alouette III - H-19 Chickasaw

Designation sequence:

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation


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