If you have visited the Kemble Engine Test Laboratory in recent years you may have seen our Westland Wessex helicopter, XT466, on site. We are pleased to announce that XT466 has found a new home at Morayvia, an aviation charity and museum in Speyside.
S & C purchased XT466 late in 2015 as a means of acquiring the two serviceable Gnome engines it contained. The company also welcomed the opportunity to investigate the gearbox and control system in situ, as several of the turboshaft rigs at the KETL make use of original Wessex components.
XT466 at Kemble in December 2015
Once these components had been extracted, the decision was made to sell the airframe to an organisation which would be able to restore and preserve the craft. Morayvia had contacted S & C previously about acquiring non-serviceable Gnome engines to display with their Sea King helicopter, and jumped at the opportunity to add a Wessex to their static display.
The helicopter was collected from Kemble in December 2017 and made the long journey by road to Scotland. Since then the team of volunteers at Morayvia have spent may man hours giving the interior and exterior a complete overhaul and new paint job. The end result is spectacular and XT466 is now on display with the Duke of York's name and crest. The volunteers at Morayvia were presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service by the Duke of York on 18th September 2018. S & C are delighted to have been able to help provide the charity with a very popular exhibit, which represents the Royal Navy's part in search and rescue up at Prestwick.
XT466 displaying the Royal Navy colour scheme and the Duke of York's name and crest at Morayvia, 2018
Hopefully Morayvia will secure the long term future of XT466. The aircraft has had a long history since its first flight in 1965. Originally stationed at RNAS Culdrose and then relocated to SoTT Cosford, XT466 was in service until 1988.
At the International Air Tattoo at RAF Greenham Common in 1981, representing 771 Air Squadron (and displaying the same colour scheme as today). Photo by Robert Nichols
It was used for ground training from 1991-2009 - first at Weeton Barracks, Preston then at the Air Engineering and Survival School, Gosport, from 2007. The Wessex then received a fresh paint job at Fleetlands in advance of being displayed at a celebration of 100 years of Naval aviation in Liverpool in 2009. Unfortunately after this XT466 was moved to Whittington Barracks, Lichfield, and fell into decline until purchased by Everett Aero in 2015, who contacted S & C Thermofluids.
XT466 at Gosport in 2007
Being repainted by AESS, Fleetlands
On display in Liverpool alongside HMS Illustrious, celebrating 100 years of Naval aviation, 2009
Relocated to Whittington Barracks, Lichfield, 2015
We wish XT466 a happy retirement at Morayvia and are proud to be recycling its Gnome engines, hopefully to be put to good use for many years to come.
The cockpit and hold area of XT466 after restoration, 2018