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The Royal Navy Wasp...


...Operational & Retirement History, from Pen & Sword



Title: The Royal Navy Wasp

Author: Larry Jeram-Croft & Terry Martin

Publisher: Pen & Sword

ISBN: 978-1-52672-114-7

This hardback book from Pen & Sword will please aviation enthusiasts and Royal Navy historians alike. The Wasp was the naval version of the Scout, which was used by the Army Air Corps. The Wasp was the first helicopter to be regularly operated from small flight decks on the back of smaller naval vessels, such as frigates and destroyers. It was the helicopter that learnt the lessons for this type of operation, and assisted all those flights who operate the more sophisticated helicopters of today. 

The book takes us through the development of the Wasp, even down to the choices of undercarriage arrangement suitable for flying on and off a moving deck in all weathers, compared to the simple skids used on the Scout used by the Army. From the development story we move on to a variety of accounts from aircrew who tell us about a wide variety of experiences they went through while flying the Wasp on operations.  Some are quite amusing, though I suspect they are more amusing in hindsight than they were at the time. For one, find out how one Wasp was written off thanks to a bowl of custard!  I was also interested to see one of the accounts mentioned my own aunt and uncle (Sir Rex and Lady Mavis Hunt) who were passengers on one of the Wasps from HMS Endurance which had an emergency landing on a beach on South Georgia while he was back as Governor of  the Falkland Islands after the war.

Having retired from service with the Royal Navy, many Wasps were sold internationally, particularly to the Royal New Zealand Navy and other countries. Tables provide details of individual airframes and, where known, what happened to them. Then for the final element of the book, we hear the story of retired Wasps now in private hands, flown as Historic Aircraft at UK airshows by the co-author, Terry Martin. This also includes the costs and issues that accompany the enjoyment of flying an historic helicopter. Accompanying the text throughout the book are plenty of fine photos that illustrate many of the stories told within the text.

Thanks to Pen and Sword for my copy.


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