Australian & New Zealand Military Aircraft Serials & History

RAN N7 Westland Wessex Mk.31A & Mk.31B

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On 1 November 1962 725 Squadron was reformed with Westland Wessex MK31A helicopters, receiving the first on 26 November.

On 18 July 1963 817 Squadron was re-commissioned and equipped with 10 Wessex MK31A helicopters.

Originally built as MK31A's,  twenty three in 1968 were modified to MK31B standard leaving one MK31A N7-217.

By March 1969 817 was totally re-equipped with MK31B's.

With the Commissioning and re equipping of 817 Squadron with Sea Kings on the 2/2/1975 the Wessex were transferred to 723 Sqdn and provided SAR aircraft for HMAS Melbourne.

On 31 December 1989 all remaining Wessex were taken out of service.

We need help with the following;

  • around 10/84 a HU816 Sqn Wessex flown by SubLt Curac rescued two people from the ship "Lord Howe Trader".
  • Starting Around the 27/01/85 a HU816 Sqn Wessex was embarked on HMAS Tobruk.
RAN.Serial c/n Delivered RAN.Codes Aircraft History
N7-200 WA200 04/09/62 880, 810 First Flight 09/08/62.
11/3/1963 with 725 Sqdn and whilst returning from a "Fly Past" practice in Canberra, the Commanding Officer of 725Sqdn and crew rescued the pilot of RAAF Sabre A94-931, Group Captain Mather D.F.C who had ejected from his Sabre after the engine failed near Lake Bathurst.
The First Wessex rescue for 725Sqdn.
Used to pick up Engine of Skyhawk N13-155051 on 150 Foot strap 1979.
Served with 816 Sqn (25/03/84).
Boost Pump Failure while being flown by SubLt Croft, 25/03/84 returned to Nowra.
Was aboard HMAS Tobruk in 1985.
The embarkation was in support of the South East Asian Leaders Conference in Tuvalu.
Withdrawn 31/12/89.
Bomb dump at RANAS Nowra 1997
Destroyed Nowra fire ground 1998.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-200 (810)

N7-201 WA201 05/09/62 881, 811 First Flight 14/08/62,
Ditched 23/11/70 after engine failure during night flying dunking sortie Shoalhaven Bight.
With 725 Sqdn LEUT(P)J.Wilkie RAN, SBLT(P) R.G Snell RAN,LT(O) C.R Linsell RN, Aircrewman LSUC J.P McCraken.
Only one of two inflation bags operated and aircraft turned upside down in the water.
Whilst being towed into Jervis Bay the aircraft sank.
Crew rescued by Wessex 820.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-201 (811)

N7-202 WA202 29/09/62 882, 812 First Flight 31/08/62,
Heavy landing  8/8/89 due to ground resonance aboard HMAS Success during Exercise Kangaroo 89.
Lt(P)White RAN, Lt(P)Lister RAN & LSA Knolls.
To Darwin Aviation Museum 11/89.
Currently on display.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-202 (812)

N7-203 WA203 04/10/62 883, 813 First Flight 26/09/62,
Instructional Airframe, HMAS Nirimba 19/01/87.
Training Aid at RSTT Wagga since 1994.
7/12/2015 returned by road to FAA Museum Nowra

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-203 (813)

N7-204 WA204 05/11/62 884, 814 First Flight 22/10/62,
Withdrawn 31/12/89.
To Hawker de Havilland Victoria as training aid
Currently on display Moorabbin Air Museum.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-204 (814)

N7-205 WA205 10/11/62 885, 815 First Flight 26/10/62.
21/3/1967 Flown by Lcdr (P) P Vickers RAN.
Crashed at RANAS Nowra. Repaired.
On board HMAS Melbourne, 'Spithead Deployment' 28/04/77 to 04/10/77 with HS817.
On deck HMAS Melbourne 28 June '77 for Queens Silver Jubilee Naval Review, Lee on Solent UK.
Exercise 'Highwood' 5-20 July '77, North Sea, 15 hours total air time for this exercise.
Withdrawn 31/12/89.
Sold to Ron Schneider of Ruppanyup Victoria.
In storage.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-205 (815)

N7-206 WA206 1962 886, 816 First Flight 15/11/62,
Ditched 24/11/64.
A Mk 31A flown by Lcdr Smiley USN and Lt Bronson USN on a pilot trainer exercise.
Had an engine failure and ditched off Nowra.
 Crew safely recovered
N7-207 WA207 05/12/62 887, 817 First Flight 20/11/62, Ditched 14/09/64, A Mk31A aircraft had a power loss and ditched at Shoalhaven Bight and sank. The crew LCDR Smiley USN, S/Lt(P)P Ward RAN, P.O R Barnes and Leading Seaman D.J Sanderson rescued. Written off 20/07/65.
N7-208 WA208 20/12/62 818 First Flight 28/11/62,
Ditched 19/11/74 off Beecroft Head NSW.
Pilot Lt(P) P Davidson RAN SBLT(P) Jackson RAN SBLT(O) J.D Jones RAN and LSA Payne crew.
Engine failure in hover.
Ditched and only one inflation bag operated.
Aircraft turned upside down and sank.
Crew rescued safely by Wessex 815. (N7-205)

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-208 (818)

N7-209 WA209 13/01/63 819 First Flight 15/12/62,
Ditched 31/05/87, off Bondi NSW.
LCDR(P) K.Alderman RAN LCDR(P) Kinross RAN POA Hartford & LSA Brown.
Aircraft was enroute to Rockhampton (Qld) to exercise with USN Battle Group and was to embark on the aircraft carrier USS Midway. Engine failed at 500feet.
Crew rescued by LEUT Reyne in Wessex 836.
Aircraft floated for about 45 minutes before one of the flotation bags burst and aircraft turned upside down.
Towed to Botany Bay recovered, stripped of spares and used as Firefighting Training Aid at NAS Nowra.
Currently used for fire training on Nowra Fire Ground

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-209 (819)

N7-210 WA210 01/02/63 820 First Flight 20/12/62,
Withdrawn 31/12/89.
Was stored out the Back in the Open at Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra NSW in 2002/3.
Currently at the Vietnam Veterans Museum, Newhaven, Phillip Island, Victoria.
Was under restoration however with the arrival of Wessex N7-221 it was disassembled went into storage.
Reported seen being taken to a scrap yard in Dandenong, Vic 11/2014
Bare shell offered for sale on Ebay 12/2014
Purchased by Dick Winterburn and moved to his property at Launching Place, Vic


Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-210 (820)

N7-211 WA211 12/02/63 821 First Flight 14/01/63,
Ditched 13/11/69.
With 725 Sqdn Lt(P) M.Buckett RAN, SBLT(P) Rieck RAN, Lt(O) Cooke-Priest RN,  POACM Barnes RAN and Commander(E)  Phillmore RN.
Aircraft carrying out a transfer from HMAS Vampire, winch cable possibly snagged on the ship and the ship rolled in the swell, winch wire snapped and entered rotor head.
Aircraft ditched & sank 8 NM East of Point Perpendicular.
Crew picked up by HMAS Vampire.

Wessex N7 211
Diching 23rd November 1970
Shoalhaven Bight

N7-212 WA212 15/02/63 822 First Flight 18/01/63,
Ditched on 22/1/78 when with 817 Sqn for SAR duties was transiting from RANAS Nowra to HMAS Melbourne when it had a complete engine failure and ditched in Jervis Bay near Bowen Island.
Leut(P) D.Anderson RAN LSA R.Cousins and AB Wilkinson swam ashore.
The helo remained afloat and was towed to Murrays Beach from where it was underslung on an RAAF Chinook helicopter and flown to NAS Nowra.
Stored but never repaired and while after being on loan on static display in Melbourne City N7-212 was struck off charge on 12/04/89.
Was located at Country Fire Authority Training ground at Fiskville, Vic as a fire training aid.
10/2012 moved to and on display at Richard Winterburn's aircraft museum at Heathcote, Vic.
2015 Sold to Badgery Creek, NSW Paint Ball Park

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-212

N7-213 WA213 03/63 823 First Flight 18/02/63.
On board HMAS Melbourne, 'Spithead Deployment' 28/04/77 until ditched with HS817.
RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset UK. 22-28 June '77 to participate in mass flypast for Queens Silver Jubilee celebrations, only RAN helo to take part.
Ditched 13/07/77, North Sea, Europe.
The aircraft was performing plane guard duties from the HMAS Melbourne on Exercise "Highwood" in the Irish Sea with Lt(P) Phil Pinniger RAN. The carrier was in the process of launching A4 Skyhawks at the time. The Wessex ditched and Lt Pinniger, Aircrewman Bob Cousins and ships diver ABATA Richard Stanford exited the aircraft. The aircraft was then cut in half by the destroyer HMAS Brisbane that had steamed in to position to pick the aircrew up.
Divers from Melbourne attached crane cables and airframe less its tail section was raised onto the deck.
Portion of fuselage now in private ownership at Auburn NSW as of 1998.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-213 (823)

N7-214 WA214 18/03/63 824 First Flight 18/02/63,
Damaged 19/11/74,aircraft retired 31 December 1989.
Held at FAA Museum Nowra 1990
Served at RAAF Williamtown as a training aid.
Acquired by Australian Aviation Heritage Centre Caboolyure Qld.
Transported 21/07/2017
On display at Caboolture Qld.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-214 (824)

N7-215 WA215 16/04 825 First Flight 07/03/63.
Served with 723 Sqn RAN.
Crashed Fatal 04/12/83, in Bass Strait near East Sale VIC after major transmission failure on the return from an exercise at night from the Bass Strait Oil Rigs.
Pilot Lt Mark Henschke tried to make land, but it crashed short of the beach killing the aircrewman Gary Macey and an CPL J Campbell RAAF.
Was recovered and stored at HMAS Albatross.
Reduced to components 07/09/88.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-215

N7-216 WA216 29/04/63 826 First Flight 14/03/63,
On 8th January 1985 with the Commanding Officer of 816 Sqdn LCDR C Mayo(P) RAN & LEUT VEB Di Pietro (P) RAN aircraft conducted a search and subsequent rescue of a fisherman from rocks adjacent to Point Perpendicular, near Jervis Bay NSW.
Withdrawn 31/12/89.
To National Maritime Museum, Sydney NSW.
Currently on display.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-216

N7-217 WA217 25/04/63 827 First Flight 08/04/63,
Only surviving Wessex not converted to Mk31B standard.
Instructional Airframe 03/08/83.
To Naval Aviation Museum, Nowra NSW 1991.
03/2002 to Queensland Air Museum at Caloundra on permanent loan,
Currently on display at QAM.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-217 (827)

N7-218 WA218 27/04/63 828 First Flight 09/04/63,
1986 with LEUT Reyne (P) RAN, aircraft made a forced landing 4 miles West of Moruya NSW after a loud bang was heard and vibration felt.
Aircraft returned to NAS Nowra underslung on RAAF Chinook.
Ditched 30/10/89,180 Nautical miles North West of Surabaja from HMAS Stalwart in South China Sea.
LEUT(P) Lister RAN and crew recovered by HMAS Stalwart,
Bomb Dump at Nowra 1997.
Destroyed at RANAS Nowra fire ground.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-218 (828)

N7-219 WA219 09/05/63 829 First Flight 24/04/63.
Ditched 16/06/70 whilst with 817 Sqdn off Singapore.
LEUT(P) P.Bainbridge, LEUT(P) Lawson, SBLT(O) Wong and LACM Smith were picked up by Wasp helicopter from HMAS Euraylus.
Aircraft recovered and used as a training aid at Nowra.
Reported to have been used as a fire training aid at RAAF Richmond.
Main fuselage and damaged tail booms at Dubbo Military Museum as of 9/07/2003.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-219 (829)

N7-220 WA220 20/05/63 830 First Flight 09/05/63.
During May 1985 while on the ground at Sydney this aircraft failed to start, another Wessex which was to return with 830 to Nowra had a door open in flight at Sydney and its door was swapped with that of 830 to allow one aircraft and crew to return to Nowra.
This aircraft was later repaired and returned to Nowra.
3 November 1985 Whilst conducting a winching demonstration at the annual Shoalhaven Spring Festival the aircraft suffered an engine failure and made a heavy forced landing into a paddock at Shoalhaven Heads 7nm from RANAS Nowra.
Crew Lt(P) G Sydney RAN POACM Culley & LSATWL Fields. Fields injured in crash.
Withdrawn 31/12/89.
Stored at Nowra and scrapped.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-220 (830)

N7-221 WA221 29/04/63 831 First Flight 23/05/63,
Ditched on take off from HMAS Melbourne 05/05/67
with S/LEUT G.Dagleish and crew due to engine failure,
Aircraft recovered.
25 June 1975 with LEUT Costa(P) and crew experienced an engine failure at 6000ft and made an emergency landing at Durras Beach NSW.
Withdrawn 31/12/89.
To Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra 1991.
Currently on display at the Vietnam Veterans Museum, Newhaven, Phillip Island, Victoria.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-221 (831)

N7-222 WA222 29/06/63 832 First Flight 21/06/63, With LEUT Leck (P) RAN & LEUT Ledger(P) RAN HT 725 Sqdn.
Attached to HMAS Stalwart.
Crashed 12/11/74 during a forced landing on beach at Stockyard Point in the ShoalWater Bay(QLD) training area North of Rockhampton after experiencing loss of engine power at 30 metres.
Airlifted by RAAF Chinook helicopter to Rockhampton.
On 04/05/86 embarked in HMAS SUCCESS.
Used as training aid at RSTT Wagga Wagga.
7/12/2015 returned by road to FAA Museum Nowra

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-222 (832)

N7-223 WA223 07/08/63 833 First Flight 22/07/63,
Withdrawn 31/12/89.
In the open storage at Nowra 01/97 .
Used for fire training and was eventually destroyed on the fire ground.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-223 (833)

N7-224 WA224 22/08/63 834 First Flight 06/08/63,
Served on HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Stalwart.
8/04/68 During a normal flight the aircraft suffered an engine overspeed.
The pilot LEUT J.W Nichol and Co-pilot SBLT R Giffen managed to regain control of the aircraft and nurse it back to HMAS Melbourne.
On the way the Observer, SBLT M. Bayliss and the aircrewman POACM Trainor were ordered to abandon the aircraft. They jumped into the sea and were picked up by HMAS Parramatta.
The Wessex landed safely aboard the carrier.
Instructional Airframe 08/07/87.
Fleet Air Arm Museum 1991.
South Australian Aviation Museum, Port Adelaide 2000.
Currently on display SAAM.

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-224 (834)

N7-225 WA225 02/09/63 835 First Flight 13/08/63,
Ditched 06/03/67.
With 817 Squadron.
Suffered an engine failure off Nowra ditched and sank.
SBLT(P) A.Hill RAN, SBLT(O) R.Ray, LAUC Yellema & LAUC McClure rescued by HMAS QueenBorough.
The aircraft floated about an hour when the flotation bags burst and the aircraft sank.
N7-226 WA226 05/09/63 836 First Flight 16/08/63,
With 817 Sqdn August 1975 with S/LEUT Condon, Smith and S/LEUT Bartles RAN.
Precautionary emergency landing on Durras Beach.
Loose alternator, aircraft repaired and flown back to Nowra.
Withdrawn 31/12/89.
Currently on display at Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra

Highlight for Album: Wessex N7-226 (836)

   RAN Formation - Wessex Squirrel UH-1C B206B-1 Sea King HS-748 Nowra 06Oct1986 - Photographer  Wal Nelowkin - RAN 75th Anniv Airshow  816 Squadron
Wessex flypast 
Photo Kim Dunstan
  • Page author is Dave Masterson (Past page author was Bob Geale) Updated by Martin Edwards and Brendan Cowan.

    Source: Australian Aviation Magazine, 816 Sqn Diary 09/02/84-23/06/85.725 Sqdn Diary.

    Emails: Jim Bartok, Mark Taylor, Tjalling Boelman, Martin Kaye, John Bartels, Bob Geale, Ron Cuskelly, Dallas Reilly, Dave Masterson, Graham Mison, Martin Edwards. Clive Mayo. Andy Marden, Nicholas Cale, Jeffery Chartier, Robert Newham.

  • Updated 10th February 2018


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