A5 (cn 55-959) (Image by Gunter Grondstein)
The S-55 was introduced into the SAAF in 1956, with further airframes arriving in 1956 and 1957. These were assembled at Ysterplaat, and joined an S-51 as the Helicopter flight at AFS Langebaanweg. This flight was later re-established as 17SQN.
WV 224 HISTORY
1953 – Built by Kaiser Corporation and delivered to Sikorsky on 26/05/53 after making an acceptance flight on 11/02/53. WV224 arrived at Gosport, UK on the 26/09/53 and issued to 706 Squadron (coded 733/gj) Fleet Air Arm on the 14/10/53.
1954 – Transferred to 845 Sqdn. On 01/03/54 and coded “s”, whilst with 845 Sqdn WV224 would almost certainly have taken part in the Suez operations of 1956 flying from HSM Theseus, the first British amphibious assault using helicopters.
1957 – Sent to RNAS Lee-On-Solent on 01/04/57 and passed onto Westland Helicopters at Illchester for cat 4 reconditioning on 29/05/57.
1958 – Returned to Lee-On-Solent via RAF Shawbury on 27/04/58 from Westlands and issued to 848 Sqdn coded “354” on its formation on 15/10/58, departing to Malta on HMS Victorious. NOTE: Code 354 is reported but can not be confirmed.
1960 – Transferred to RNAS Hal Far SAR Flight Malta 01/01/60 and may have been coded “958”.
1962 – Returned to the UK (details unknown) and arrived at Westlands, Weston-Super-Mare for cat 4 reconditioning on 21/05/62.
1964 – Sent to NARIV? Lee-On-Solent for UHF installation on 04/11/64.
1965 – Issued to 728 Sqdn at Hal Far Malta for SAR duties on 23/03/65 to replace WV203 and coded “961”. WV224 was flown back to the UK from Malta on 30/08/65 arriving back at Fleetlands on 04/09/65.
1966 – Joined 781 Sqdn at Lee-On-Solent on 23/02/66 and was sent to NARIV for installation of MAD gear (Magnetic Anomaly Detection) still coded “961”. Returned to NARIV on 14/09/66, presumably for MAD gear removal, moving to Fleetlands on 28/09/66, rejoined 781 Sqdn at Lee-On-Solent on 20/10/66 on a temporary basis and sent back to Fleetlands on 17/11/66 for storage.
1970 – Sold to Autair Helicopters on 19/11/70 and departed on 01/03/71 to be used as a spare source for other Autair helicopters. WV224 arrived at Port Elizabeth with 3 other ex RNAS S55 airframes.
It’s believed these were flown by Autair to Grand Central Airport in Johannesburg from Port Elizabeth .
The only information we have is that they languished in a hanger and in due course given to the SAAF Museum at Swartskop with WV224 finding it’s way to Ysterplaat.
706 and 845 squadron Oxford Blue. It is believed it was refinished in extra dark sea grey with upper surfaces and sky lower surfaces while with 848 squadron.
Back to Oxford blue when it was transferred to SAR Flight, Malta.
829 squadron RAF blue grey.
This particular airframe is another volunteer project, and is being restored under the guidance of Richard Woodard, who became particulary intimate with the type when he was posted to RAF Kuching in Borneo, serving with 225 SQN.
Jeep towing the S 55 prior to restoration.