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Saro Skeeter AOP Mk12

Saunders Roe Skeeter AOP Mk12

In 1945 the Army's attention was attracted to the possibility of the helicopter for AOP duties and on 1 September 1947 Captain P R D Wilson RA made history by conducting the first AOP shoot from an Army helicopter. The inadequacies of the in-service R6B (Hoverfly 2) and the shortage of spares were such that it was abandoned. It was a further ten years before the helicopter was to enter Army service in the observation role.

During the 1940s Cierva developed a light, two seater, piston engined helicopter as an aerial observation platform. However, the Cierva company merged with Saunders-Roe Ltd and the aircraft became known as the Saunders-Roe (Saro) Skeeter. Saunders-Roe Ltd were soon taken over by Westland Helicopters and the Skeeter was renamed the Westland Skeeter. 

Saunders Roe Skeeter AOP Mk12 Specification
Engine:  Gipsy Major Type 140
Speed:  90kts (167 kph) max 85kts (157kph) cruise
Endurance:  Two hours 23 gallon (105 litre) fuel tank
Maximum All Up Weight:  2250lbs (1020kg)
Display Weight:  2050lbs (930kg)
Length: 39ft (11.89m)
Rotor Span: 32ft (9.75m)
Capacity: Pilot plus one
Skeeter XM557 en route to Vogelsang circa 1962

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