WESTLAND WASP HAS. MK 1 HELICOPTER

The Westland Wasp first flew in the United Kingdom during July 1958.  In October 1963, the first six of a total of sixteen Helicopters were delivered to the South African Air Force between 1963 and 1974.  Wasp 96 on display was taken on charge in May 1974 and was the last helicopter to be delivered and was issued to 22 Flight (later re-designated 22 Squadron in May 1976) which had been formed at AFS Ysterplaat in January 1964.

 Two South African Navy destroyers were fitted with helipads and hangars and later the three President Class Anti-Submarine Frigates, SAS Presidents Kruger, SAS President Pretorius and SAS President Steyn were also converted to carry a single Wasp helicopter to be used in an anti-submarine/survey role. 

The hydrographic survey vessel SAS Protea and fleet replenishment vessel SAS Tafelberg were similarly modified.  The design of the helicopter main rotor-head made the Wasp an ideal helicopter for landing on ships at sea.  The main rotor blades were designed to go into "negative pitch," to push the helicopter down onto the deck after landing, so that it could be tied down.  The Wasp helicopter was affectionately nnicknamed the “Tea Trolley” due to its four caster wheel landing gear,

During its service, Wasp 96 had the distinction of operating from the decks of all three President Class Frigates, the destroyer SAS Jan van Riebeeck and also the SAS Protea.  During Operation Savannah, Wasp 96 carried out evacuation flights in darkness and in great secrecy to the SAS President Steyn stationed off the coast near Luanda on 27 November 1975.

The Wasp helicopters were utilised in a number of naval exercises, search and rescue flights, deployments to the South Atlantic islands and missions in support of other Government Departments.  In January 1980, two Wasps operating off the Research Vessel S.A. Agulhas were used to conduct feasibility studies into helicopter operations in Antarctica.  The results obtained from these studies were instrumental in drawing up operating procedures for the Puma helicopters used later in support of the SANAE Base.

The last operational sea deployment for Wasp 96 took place in May 1987 while stationed aboard the Logistic Support Vessel SAS Tafelberg.  In July 1987, the helicopter was transferred to the Test Flight & Development Centre at Bredasdorp where it flew from February 1988 until its last flight there on 7 November 1989 after which it was detached to the Test Pilot School.  Six Wasp helicopters were lost in service and the surviving helicopters were officially withdrawn from service in 1989.  After having flown a total of 988.7 hours, Wasp 96 was retired and transferred to the SAAF Museum during March 1991.

Country of origin: Great Britain
Manufactured as:  Westland Wasp HAS. Mk 1
Served with: 22 Squadron
Role:   Anti-submarine warfare
Power Plant: Single Rolls Royce/Bristol Nimbus turbo shaft engine delivering 530 kW (710 hp)
Max take-off Mass:  2 495 kg
Max Speed:  193 km/h
Max Range:  488 km
Armament:  Two Mk 44 Torpedoes or two Mk 11 depth charges under the belly
Crew:   Pilot and Flight Engineer plus 3 passengers or 1 stretcher
Special Equipment: Hoist plus Emergency flotation gear