The Westland Scout, developed from the Saunders-Roe (Saro) P531 was one of the few helicopters of exclusively British design to have been built in quantity. The first P531 was flown on 20 July 1958, powered by a Blackburn Turmo 603 engine. The British Army was immediately interested in the type as a light battlefield helicopter and the first version was a pre-production and development variant which flew in 1960. This proved so successful that only one month later the British Army placed its initial production contract for the Scout AH Mk1, which differed from earlier models only in having powered controls.
The first Scout AH Mk1 flew in March 1961. The type began to enter service early in 1963 as a replacement for the Saunders-Roe Skeeter, which it clearly outmoded by its combination of greater reliability, substantially improved payload and general operating superiority. Production amounted to 160 Scout AH Mk1 helicopters and since 1963 these have been standard multi-role tactical aircraft with skid landing gear, a five/six-seat cabin and the Nimbus 101 or 102 turboshaft engine. External loads included two litters in side mounted pods and in the anti-tank role the aircraft carried SS-11 wire-guided missiles. The Scout proved its operational versatility, working in close-support, liaison, light freight, medivac, communication, reconnaissance, search and rescue and training roles.
XT626 served from 1963 until the late 1980s, seeing out service with the Territorial Army at Netheravon. She joined the Army Historic Aircraft Flight on 30 March 1994 and was handed over to the Historic Aircraft Flight Trust on 1 February 2015. The aircraft is registered as G-CIBW.
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