Last updated 8.5.15 

BRISTOL 171 SYCAMORES IN AUSTRALIA

A listing compiled by Geoff Goodall

  

  ANA Sycamore VH-INO, with a large suspended magnetometer in Tasmania 1956. Photo ANA



  

  RAN Sycamores at Bankstown April 1961.  Photo The Collection p0850-0331



  Seventeen Bristol Type 171 Sycamore helicopters were imported into Australia during the 1950s by Royal Australian Air Force (2) Royal Australian Navy (13), and the airline Australian National Airways which became Ansett-ANA (2).  Production of Sycamores by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, renamed Bristol Aircraft Co Ltd in January 1956, totalled 178 aircraft: the first 95 being built at Bristol's works at Filton, Bristol and the remainder at their Mixon works, Weston-super-Mare.



1. ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE SYCAMORES:


  The first Australian orders for Sycamore were placed by RAAF in 1951 when the need for helicopter support became urgent at the Long Range Weapons Establishment's Woomera rocket range in the north of South Australia.  Woomera was a joint venture between Australia and Britain, and air communications within Australia was conducted by RAAF's Air Trials Unit starting with a variety of aircraft types: Vickers Viking, Bristol Freighter, Percival Prince, Lincoln, Avro C.19, Dakota, Auster AOP.3 and two Sycamores.


  To hasten delivery of the first RAAF Sycamore, a basic civil machine was taken from the Filton production line. At the time the specification for the RAF military Sycamores was still under development. This first Sycamore was conveniently delivered to Australia as cargo on the ferry flight of a RAAF Bristol Freighter in September 1951.  It is reported that this first Sycamore was beset by clutch problems which took some time to overcome.  In 1955 a second Sycamore was purchased to be based at Woomera.




Sycamore Mk.3   C/n 12894       G-ALSZ, WV695, (A80-2) A91-1, VH-GVR


Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the first production batch of 15 Sycamore Mk.3s for development trials.
C/ns 12886 to 12900, allocated civil registrations G-ALSP to G-ALTE

Allocated serial WV695 by Ministry of Supply
17.11.50 Registered G-ALSZ Bristol Aeroplane Company Ltd, Filton, Bristol

No British CofA issued
26.3.52 Restrospective date for struck-off British Civil Register as "to military"

Allocated serial WV695 by Ministry of Supply
1.7.51 First flight at Filton

RAAF allocated serial A80-2, to follow the first RAAF Sikorsky S-51 A80-1. Later the decision was made to create a new serial block A91- for Sycamores.
28.8.51 Departed England on board Bristol Freighter WW378 on its delivery flight to Australia (Bristol Freighter became RAAF A81-4)
8.9.51 Bristol arrived Australia
9.9.51 Taken on RAAF charge with serial A91-1.  
Received ARDU Trials Flight, RAAF Laverton Vic ex UK.
RAAF Status Card shows A80-2 crossed out
20.9.51 Being assembled at ARDU
19.6.52 Undergoing major inspection
19.9.52 Awaiting spares at ARDU Trials Flight
30.10.52 Servicable at ARDU Trials Flight
14.4.54 Received by Bristol Company for complete overhaul
15.2.56 Received 2AD Richmond ex Bristol Co
28.2.56 Received Air Trials Unit, Woomera Airfield SA ex 2AD
1.10.64 HQ Edinburgh requests disposal through Department of Supply
12.1.65 Held by Air Trials Unit
13.3.65 Final RAAF Status Card entry: disposal with Leonides engine by Dept of Supply approved
1.7.65 Tenders closed for sale of A91-1 with installed Leonides engine plus spare Leonides engine. Location RAAF Base Woomera, airframe total time 2,462 hours. A separate tender of the same date covered a large quantity of Sycamore parts including two sets of rotor blades, gearbox and three main rotor hubs.
.65 A91-1 sold to Gordon V. Rose trading as J. Rose Motors, Melbourne Vic.
6.9.65 Ferried Woomera to RAAF Edinburgh, Adelaide by RAAF crew. Handed over to purchaser at Edinburgh
7.9.65 A91-1 arrived Adelaide Airport from RAAF Edinburgh on northern outskirts of Adelaide, using its military callsign "VMHMY".  Rolled into Ansett-ANA hangar with rotors folded. Allover silver RAAF scheme with black serial number with red lettering and warning placards, kangaroo roundel.
28.9.65 A91-1 was rolled outside the Ansett-ANA hangar and left parked in the open
7.10.65 A91-1 noted Adelaide Airport, being readied for ferry flight to Melbourne
12.10.65 A91-1 departed Adelaide Airport at 6am, refuelled at Nhill and Ballarat, arrived Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne. Used radio callsign "VMHMY", flown by Ansett-ANA Captain Paine
18.10.65 noted Moorabbin, RAAF serial and roundels removed, aircraft painted in green primer
29.11.65 Ferried Moorabbin-Essendon for civil certification, callsign "VMHMY"
30.11.65 noted Essendon, parked outside Ansett-ANA hangars
6.1.66 Arrived Moorabbin after civil certification overhaul at Essendon by Ansett-ANA, all silver
22.1.66 noted at Moorabbin, repainted with green lower section, red mid section, white roof
23.4.66 noted Moorabbin, new rotor blades being fitted
26.5.66 noted Moorabbin, having engine ground runs
10.6.66 Registered VH-GVR J. Rose Motors, Melbourne Vic.
19.6.66 VH-GVR noted Moorabbin, flying. Painted dark blue, dark green with red, white & black trim.
4.9.66 VH-GVR noted Moorabbin flying.
12.11.66 VH-GVR visited airshow at Kerang Vic
25.1.67 Crashed Falls Creek Vic.  Operating on sling load work on construction of ski lifts at high altitude in Victorian Alps.
DCA accident report: “Having located a missing sling and bucket which had been dropped in flight, the pilot misjudged the slope of terrain and hovered the helicopter at a height which allowed the tail rotor to strike the ground. Crashed to ground and a workman was struck by a rotor blade and killed”. Pilot unhurt.
25.1.67 Struck-off Register

Wreck moved to Albury NSW for estimate on repair. Declared a write-off.
.67 Donated to Moorabbin Air Museum, Moorabbin Airport, Vic
13.5.67 noted at Albury in Airserve Albury hangar, damaged helicopter loaded on a trailer, ready for road transport to Moorabbin Air Museum
11.6.67 Arrived Moorabbin Air Museum by road from Albury
20.1.68 VH-GVR noted at Moorabbin at Moorabbin Air Museum
00/12 Moorabbin Air Museum renamed Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin

Current, displayed as silver RAAF "A91-1"

  

  A91-1 unloaded from the RAAF Bristol Freighter on arrival from England. The Collection p0850-0173


  

  A91-1 arrives at Moorabbin 12 October 1965. Photo by Peter Limon

 

 

VH-GVR Moorabbin March 1966 with rotor blades folded. Photo by Lindsay Nothrop

  

  VH-GVR Moorabbin September 1966. The Collection p0850-0018




Sycamore Mk.4   C/n 13202            G-AMWT, A91-2

52 Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1
52 Part of the third production batch of 20 Sycamores. C/ns 13144 to 13203.
Completed as a Mk.4
1.12.52 Registered as Sycamore Series 4 G-AMWT Bristol Aeroplane Company Ltd, Filton, Bristol

No British CofA issued
54 Modified to RAAF order to similar to RAF Sycamore Mk.14 standard
9.54 Filton report: G-AMWT c/n 13202 which has been sold to the RAAF as A91-2 has departed Fiton
18.10.54 Struck-off British Register as sold to RAAF
4.1.55 Taken on RAAF charge as Sycamore Mk.4 A91-2.
Received at Edinburgh Airfield SA ex British Ministry of Supply
2.2.55 Received Air Trials Unit, Woomera Airfield SA
3.12.56 Received Bristol Company ex ATU for major service
5.7.57 Received Edinburgh ex Bristol Co, for use by ATU
12.7.57 Held by Air Trials Unit
12.2.60 Held by No.1 Air Trials Unit, Woomera
13.12.60 Crashed in forced landing, Lake Hart near Woomera SA.  Due loss of tail rotor, aircraft wrecked, crew were uninjured.
23.3.61 HQ Edinburgh requests conversion of airframe to components and disposal of the residue as scrap metal
21.7.61 Struck-off RAAF charge as written off. Engine returned to Store.
10.11.61 Final Status Card entry: conversion and write-off finalised by 1ATU


  

  A91-2 in action.  The Collection p0850-0170


  

  A91-2 at RAAF Laverton, now with kangaroo roundels. The Collection p0850-0546



2. ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY:

  The Fleet Air Arm of the RAN had been formed in 1948 and its first aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney was commissioned in February 1949 (ex HMS Terrible). A second carrier HMAS Vengeance was loaned by the Royal Navy in March 1953 (ex HMS Vengeance) until March 1956 when replaced by the newly commissioned HMAS Melbourne.

  After a lengthy review of suitable types to replace the Sea Otters for air sea rescue, the RAN placed its first order for Sycamores in late 1951: three consecutive civil Sycamore Mk.3s were completed by Bristol at Filton to RAN specifications and given the export designation Mark HR.50 and allocated British Ministry of Supply serials XA219 to XA221.  The Australian HR.50 was similar to the RAF HR.13 SAR model, but had taller and stronger landing gear for shipboard operations.

  These first three were brought to Australia on the aircraft carrier HMAS Vengeance after being flown on board in England, berthing in Sydney on 11 March 1953. They were taken on charge by No.723 Squadron on the same day when they were ferried to HMAS Albatross at Nowra airfield on the NSW south coast. Sycamores were deployed on the RAN carriers HMAS Sydney and HMAS Vengeance and from 1956 on its replacement HMAS Melbourne. This continued until the Sycamore's retirement by RAN during 1964 when replaced by the Bell Iroquois.

  Major overhaul and repair of RAN Sycamores was contracted to Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown Airport, Sydney who also looked after RAAF Bristol Freighters and other British types. It was a subsidiary of the parent Bristol Aeroplane Co in England.

  Further RAN deliveries were the Sycamore HR.51 variant, equivalent to the civil Mk.4 which had the pilot's position shifted from left hand to right hand to conform with American standard practice, plus enlarged baggage compartment and 4 doors.

RAN acceptance Number

Model Serials Delivered to Australia
11.3.53 3 HR.50 XA219-XA221 HMAS Vengeance delivery voyage from England
22.11.54 4 HR.51 XD653-XD656 Crated on merchant vessel MV Braeside
10.3.56 2 HR.51 XK902 & XL507 HMAS Melbourne delivery voyage from England, with RAN's new Sea Venoms and Gannets
26.6.58 1 HR.51 XN448 Crated on merchant vessel
19.6.59 2 HR.51 XN449 & XN450 Crated on merchant vessel SS Araluen
24.8.61 1 HR.51 XR592 Crated on merchant vessel SS Africa

  The RAN unit chosen to operate the Sycamore was 723 Squadron formed on 7 April 1952 for Fleet Requirements communications, air sea rescue and refresher flying duties.  Initial equipment included the surviving Sea Otter. All RAN Sycamores were on the strength of 723 Squadron at Nowra, with the exception of a few months from 25 October 1956 to 18 February 1957 when 723 was disbanded and the six Sycamores were transferred to 724 Squadron, Nowra as a self-contained helicopter flight. This change was quickly reversed due operational problems and 723 took back its Sycamores and 724 continued with fixed wing aircraft.

  Individual aircraft code numbers were painted on the Sycamores, beginning in the range 901-909, changing in 1955 to 991-997, and changed again in mid 1958 to 848-853.  Indentified code numbers are shown in the aircraft listings below.


  In August 1961 an unidentified Sycamore was delivered in a packing case to Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown Airport, Sydney. It is believed to have been a RAN example sent by road from Nowra for repair or overhaul.

  All RAN Sycamores retained their British military serials in Australian service. In 1964 the RAN implemented its own aircraft serial number system, allocating the prefix "N5- " to the Bristol Sycamores. However by that time the type was being retired and no new style serials were applied to Sycamores. The last RAN Sycamores were retired in June 1965.


Sycamore HR.50   C/n 13063  Code 906, 996        XA219

.52 Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1
10.52 Part of the second production batch of 10 Sycamores, c/ns 13062 to 13071.
Completed as HR.50 to Royal Australian Navy order

Allocated serial XA219 by British Ministry of Supply
25.10.52 First flight at Filton
31.10.52 XA219 commenced trials at A&AEE Boscombe Down, including deck landings on aircraft carrier HMS Triumph
8.12.52 Returned to Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton for modifications
8.1.53 XA219-XA221 were delivered to RNFAA station Gosport for training of RAN aircrew
1.53 XA219 carried out deck landing trials on HMS Triumph
16.1.53 XA219-XA221 flown on to aircraft carrier HMAS Vengeance at sea in the English Channel off Weymouth, Dorset en route to Australia. Operational trials were conducted while at sea
11.3.53 HMAS Vengeance berthed at Garden Island, Sydney Harbour
11.3.53 XA219 delivered to Nowra Naval Air Station NSW.
11.3.53 Taken on charge by 723 Squadron, RAN, based Nowra
2.9.54 Damaged Nowra when rotor blades struck fuselage. Repaired
17.8.55 visited Melbourne Showgrounds, Ascot Vale, code "906"
29.10.56 723 Squadron disbanded at Nowra, XA219 transferred to 724 Squadron
18.2.57 723 Squadron reformed at Nowra, XA219 on strength
6.2.58 commenced detachment on board HMAS Melbourne
20.2.58 issued to Nowra
13.3.58 Allotted Bristol Aviation Service, Bankstown for overhaul
6.58 XA219 noted Bankstown, code "906", in Bristol Aviation Services hangar
4.9.58 issued to Nowra
10.9.58 Crashed, damaged by fire in forced landing at Nowra
15.12.58 Struck-off RAN charge

Fuselage used for fire fighting instructional airframe duties at Nowra
2.10.61 XA219 noted Nowra in use as an instructional airframe
10.66 XA219 noted at HMAS Nirimba, Schofields Aerodrome NSW with RAN training college as an instructional airframe
4.67 XA219 noted at HMAS Nirimba, Schofields Aerodrome NSW: parked in open, the section forward of the engine bay is missing and it is just an airframe shell. Rear section is intact and complete, painted all silver

  

  XA219 arrives on board HMAS Vengeance off England, January 1953. The Collection p0850-0002


  

  XA219 visits RAAF Forest Hill, Wagga NSW. Geoff Goodall collection


  

  XA219 now with kangaroo roundel. The Collection p0850-0176







Sycamore HR.50   C/n 13064  Code 907, 810, 849        XA220

.52 Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1
12.52 Part of the second production batch of 10 Sycamores, c/ns 13062 to 13071.
Completed as HR.50 to Royal Australian Navy order

Allocated serial XA220 by British Ministry of Supply
5.12.52 First flight at Filton
12.52 XA219-XA221 were delivered to RNFAA station Gosport.
31.12.52 Taken on charge by Royal Navy at Gosport
16.1.53 XA219-XA221 flown on to aircraft carrier HMAS Vengeance at sea in the English Channel off Weymouth, Dorset en route to Australia. Operational trials were conducted while at sea
11.3.53 HMAS Vengeance berthed at Garden Island, Sydney Harbour
11.3.53 XA220 delivered to Nowra Naval Air Station NSW.
11.3.53 Taken on charge by 723 Squadron, RAN, based Nowra, code "907"
18.9.53 XA220 commenced detachment on board HMAS Vengeance
11.11.53 allotted Nowra
4.1.54 allotted RAN Schofields
6.1.54 allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown
14.1.54 allotted RAN Schofields
11.3.54 allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for damage repairs
20.8.54 allotted 723 Squadron, Nowra
26.8.54 allotted HMAS Sydney
31.8.54 allotted Nowra
29.9.54 damaged on HMAS Sydney when rotor blades struck fuselage
1.12.54 Disembarked from HMAS Sydney to Nowra
27.1.55 allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for damage repairs
16.6.55 allotted Nowra
1.2.56 Damaged during rescue operations in NSW floods
11.3.56 allotted HMAS Sydney
2.6.56 allotted Nowra
26.7.56 allotted HMAS Melbourne
27.7.56 allotteded Nowra
9.8.56 allotted HMAS Melbourne
25.10.56 allotted Nowra
29.10.56 723 Squadron disbanded at Nowra, XA220 transferred to 724 Squadron
3.1.57 allotted HMAS Melbourne
7.2.57 allotted Nowra
21.2.57 723 Squadron reformed at Nowra, XA220 on strength
11.7.57 allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown
6.3.58 allotted Nowra
16.10.58 allotted HMAS Melbourne
30.10.58 allotted Nowra
14.11.58 allotted HMAS Melbourne
20.11.58 allotted Nowra
9.61 XA220 noted at Port Melbourne on board HMAS Melbourne
2.10.61 XA220 code "849" noted Nowra, silver with yellow markings.
2.62 XA220 "849" noted Hobart on board HMAS Melbourne
11.62 in service with 723 Squadron, blue & white, code "849"
16.2.63 XA220 Code "849" noted at Port Melbourne on board HMAS Melbourne. Midnight blue overall with white markings and silver detail.
11.63 Retired at Nowra
31.8.66 Closing date for Tender issued by Department of Supply: location Nowra, without engine
14.9.66 Sold to Business Aviation Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW
2.67 Sold to Associated Helicopter Services Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW.
Reportedly purchased for spare parts
2.67 XA220, XN450 & XR592 from RAN at Nowra arrived Camden aerodrome NSW for Business Aviation Pty Ltd of Bankstown. All are fitted with external winches and are complete except for radio.Two were in the Skyservice Aviation hangar at Camden 6.67
23.3.68 XA220 noted Camden NSW, code "849"
20.8.70 XA220 noted Camden
18.6.72 XA220 noted Camden inside museum hangar
by 9.72 Sydney Technical College as instructional airframe
5.1.85 noted at Bankstown, outside Technical College hangar, complete, painted white and blue, no markings or identity
.86 Donated by Bankstown technical college to Australian Naval Aviation Museum, Nowra NAS NSW
5.10.86 noted at Nowra outside museum hangar, silver "XA220" code "907".
27.9.89
XA220 noted at Naval Aviation Museum, Nowra. Bare metal finish, code “907” on fuselage in black
.01
Renamed Australia's Museum of Flight, Nowra NAS NSW
1.9.06
Renamed Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra NAS NSW
5.3.08 noted at Nowra inside museum, silver "XA220" code "907"

Current

  

  XA220 at Bankstown, code "907".  The Collection p0850-0177


  

  XA220 at Nowra with code changed to "849".    The Collection p0850-0306


  

  XA220 operating on HMAS Melbourne. The Collection p0850-0536


  

  XA220 on HMAS Melbourne docked at Port Melbourne February 1963. The Collection p0850-0312



  

  XA220 at technical college hangar Bankstown January 1985. Photo by Roger McDonald


  

  XA220 “907” displayed at Nowra in 2006.  The Collection




Sycamore HR.50   C/n 13065  Code 908        XA221

.52 Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1
12.52 Part of the second production batch of 10 Sycamores, c/ns 13062 to 13071.
Completed as HR.50 to Royal Australian Navy specifications.

Allocated serial XA221 by British Ministry of Supply
12.52 First flight at Filton
12.52 XA219-XA221 were delivered to RNFAA station Gosport.
12.1.53 Taken on charge Royal Navy at Gosfport
16.1.53 XA219-XA221 flown on to aircraft carrier HMAS Vengeance at sea in the English Channel off Weymouth, Dorset en route to Australia. Operational trials were conducted while at sea
11.3.53 HMAS Vengeance docked at Garden Island, Sydney Harbour
11.3.53 XA221 delivered to Nowra Naval Air Station NSW.
11.3.53 Taken on charge by 723 Squadron, RAN, based Nowra, code "908"
3.7.53 allotted HMAS Vengeance
10.8.53 allotted Nowra
22.9.53 allotted HMAS Sydney
22.10.53 allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for overhaul
19.3.54 allotted HMAS Vengeance
12.5.54 allotted Nowra
26.8.54 allotted HMAS Sydney
1.12.54 allotted Nowra
1.2.55 allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for checks
4.2.55 allotted Nowra
25.2.55 Crashed near Singleton NSW. While carrying out flood relief operations in Maitland area, two railway workers were being winched under the aircraft when the winch became overloaded. Crew attempted to land the men on a bridge but the men fell and were drowned, and the winch cable flicked up and hit high tension cables. Aircraft crashed into 25 feet deep flood waters.  Pilot Lt. Cdr G.McPhee RAN 723 Sqn and his crew were rescued 8 kilometres downstream.
24.4.55 wreckage of aircraft located
6.6.55 wreckage allocated Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown
25.2.56 Struck off charge




Sycamore Mk.4, to HR.51   C/n 13071  Codes 904, 994, 850    G-AMWJ, XD653


Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the second production batch of 10 Sycamores. C/ns 13062 to 13071.
To be a Mk.3 as a Bristol company demonstrator, but completed as a Series 4
1.12.52 Registered as Sycamore Series 4 G-AMWJ Bristol Aeroplane Company Ltd, Filton, Bristol

No British CofA issued
1.53 Converted by Bristol as the first Mk. HR.51.
.53 Sold to Australian Government for use by RAN

British Ministry of Supply assigned serial XD653
30.9.53 Struck off Civil Register "to Royal Australian Navy"
12.11.53 First flight at Filton
16.12.53 Delivered to A&AEE Boscombe Down.
XD653 & XD654 were tested at A&AEE Boscombe Down until 2.54
4.3.54 Allotted Bristol Aeroplane Co, Filton for mods
9.3.54 Taken on charge by Royal Navy as Abbosinch
25.5.54 Allotted A&AEE Boscombe Down for flight trials of modified engine boost and rotor blade tab settings
14.7.54 Allotted Bristol Aeroplane Co, Filton until 6.8.54
10.54 XD653 to XD656 were delivered to Australia on board merchant ship MV Braeside
22.11.54 MV Braeside arrived at Sydney
22.11.54 Taken on RAN charge as XD653
22.11.54 Received by Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown Airport, Sydney for assembly
1.2.55 Allotted Nowra to 723 Squadron
23.2.55 landed at Malvern Grammar School,  Melbourne as part of a RAN demonstration
55 photo at Nowra: XD653 all silver, code "904"
4.6.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney
26.7.55 Allotted RAAF Williamtown NSW
21.11.55 Allotted Nowra
13.9.56 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown
11.7.57 Allotted Nowra 723 Squadron
29.8.57 Allotted HMAS Sydney until 26.9.57
3.10.57 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
30.11.57 XD653 noted at Essendon Vic. All silver, code "904", kangaroo roundel
6.2.58 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
24.7.58 Allotted Nowra
9.10.58 forced landing
29.1.59 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
29.5.60 flew a display at an airshow, Bankstown
2.10.61 XD653 noted Nowra, code "850", with 723 Squadron
11.62 Listed on strength 723 Squadron, midnight blue & white, code "850"
11.63 Retired from active service
10.66 noted at HMAS Nirimba, Schofields Aerodrome NSW with RAN training college as an instructional airframe
4.67 noted at HMAS Nirimba, Schofields Aerodrome NSW. In hangar, good condition, polished blue allover with white trim, code "850"

Issued to RAN Museum, Nowra
12.10.69 noted Nowra, displayed
12.8.74 XD653 noted Nowra, midnight blue RAN scheme, no code
10.8.77 Officially allotted to Australian Naval Aviation Museum, Nowra
9.77 XD653 noted Nowra Museum "849"
8.80 XD653 noted Nowra Museum "849"
4.9.85 XD653 noted Nowra, parked outside museum hangar
5.10.86 noted at Nowra outside museum hangar, "XD653" code "850" midnight blue scheme, also  27.9.89
5.10.91 XD653 code "850" noted at Nowra, undergoing refurbishment in a hangar for display
1.11.92 noted at Nowra inside museum, "XD653" code "850", midnight blue scheme
5.8.00 XD653 noted Nowra
.01
Renamed Australia's Museum of Flight, Nowra NAS NSW
1.9.06
Renamed Fleet Air Arm Museum, Nowra NAS NSW

Current


  

  XD653 “904” at Essendon Airport, Melbourne.  The Collection p0850-0733


  

  XD653 in the later RAN dark blue paint scheme.  The Collection p0850-0805





Sycamore HR.51   C/n 13146    Code 909, 851      XD654


Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the third production batch of 20 Sycamores. C/ns 13144 to 13203.
completed as a Mk.HR.51

British Ministry of Supply issued serial XD654, for use by RAN
14.12.53 First flight at Filton
1.3.54 Delivered to A&AEE Boscombe Down for trials.
XD653 & XD654 tested at A&AEE Boscombe Down
11.3.54 Allotted Bristol Aertoplane Co, Filton for winch repairs
4.8.54 Taken on charge by Royal Navy
5.8.54 Delivered to Lee-on-Solent
10.54 XD653 to XD656 were delivered to Australia as cargo on board merchant ship MV Braeside
22.11.54 MV Braeside arrived at Sydney
23.11.54 Taken on charge RAN
23.11.54 Received by Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown Airport, Sydney for assembly
21.1.55 Delivered to 723 Squadron, Nowra, code 909
2.2.55 Allotted HMAS Vegeance until 14.2.55
2.55 Damaged Dubbo NSW during flood relief operations
13.3.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney
29.3.55 Allotted RAAF Williamtown
31.3.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney
27.4.55 Allotted Nowra
16.10.55 Damaged
18.10.55 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for repairs
10.7.56 Allotted Nowra 723 Squadron
2.8.56 Allotted HMAS Sydney
29.10.56 723 Squadron disbanded at Nowra, XD654 transferred to 724 Squadron
7.2.57 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
14.3.57 723 Squadron reformed at Nowra, XD654 on strength
9.10.57 Allotted HMAS Sydney
10.10.57 Damaged
17.10.57 Allotted Nowra
20.2.58 Allotted HMAS Melbourne until 24.7.58
16.10.58 Allotted HMAS Melbourne until 20.11.58
9.1.59 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown
4.3.61 Ditched in sea near Cocos Island, Indian Ocean, off HMS Hermes



Sycamore HR.51   C/n 13147            XD655


Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the third production batch of 20 Sycamores. C/ns 13144 to 13203.
completed as a Mk.HR.51

British Ministry of Supply issued serial XD655, for use by RAN
22.12.53 First flight at Filton
5.8.54 Taken on charge Royal Navy at Lee on Solent
10.54 XD653 to XD656 were delivered to Australia on board merchant ship MV Braeside
22.11.54 MV Braeside arrived at Sydney
23.11.54 Taken on charge RAN as XD655
23.11.54 Received by Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown Airport, Sydney for assembly
1.55 Delivered to 723 Squadron, Nowra
27.2.55 Allotted RAAF Williamtown
11.3.55 Allotted Nowra, 723 Squadron. Reported code "901" but unconfirmed
18.3.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney until 23.3.55
28.3.55 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown
29.3.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney
2.4.55 Allotted Nowra
6.4.55 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown
19.4.55 Allotted Nowra
23.9.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney
7.10.55 Damaged at RAAF Point Cook Vic
12.10.55 Crashed Jervis Bay NSW. Crashed in shallow water in St Georges Basin
17.10.55 Wreck allotted to Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown
1.61 Wreck sold to Aircraft Engines and Overhauls, Sydney

  

  XD655 at Bankstown 1955.  The Collection p0850-0178




Sycamore HR.51   C/n 13148    Codes 905, 995      XD656


Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the third production batch of 20 Sycamores. C/ns 13144 to 13203.
completed as a Mk.HR.51

British Ministry of Supply issued serial XD656, for use by RAN
4.1.54 First flight at Filton
5.8.54 Taken on Royal Navy charge at Lee-on-Solent
10.54 XD653 to XD656 were delivered to Australia on board merchant ship MV Braeside
22.11.54 MV Braeside arrived at Sydney
23.11.54 Taken on charge RAN as XD656
23.11.54 Received by Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown Airport, Sydney for assembly
1.2.55 Delivered to Nowra, 723 Squadron
4.2.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney
26.2.55 Allotted RAAF Williamtown
5.3.55 Allotted Nowra
23.3.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney
29.3.55 Allotted RAAF Williamtown
2.4.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney
27.4.55 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for mods
29.4.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney for cruise to New Zealand, returned Sydney 6.5.55
16.6.55 Allotted Nowra
23.9.55 Allotted HMAS Sydney
10.55 Landed at Melbourne Grammar School, South Yarra, Melbourne off HMAS Melbourne as part of an RAN demonstration. Code "905"
11.3.56 Allotted HMAS Sydney
11.4.56 Delivered Nowra to Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for overhaul
18.10.56 Allotted Nowra
29.10.56 723 Squadron disbanded at Nowra, XD656 transferred to 724 Squadron
4.12.56 Damaged
20.12.56 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for repairs
28.2.57 Allotted Nowra, 723 Squadron
26.6.57 Landed in Centennial Park, Sydney bringing an injured man from Milton NSW to hospital
10.10.57 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
11.11.57 Crashed in sea off HMAS Melbourne on Queensland coast. Due engine failure, pilot Lt. Hunt of 723 Squadon
4.12.57 Struck-off RAN charge

  

  XD656 “905” at Bankstown, soon after delivery to RAN.  The Collection p0850-0179


  

  XD656 with new code “995”, at Bankstown.  The Collection p0850-0808





Sycamore HR.51   C/n 13401    Code 902, 992      XK902


Built by Bristol Aircraft Ltd at Old Mixon, Western-super-Mare.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the eighth production batch of 17 Sycamores. C/ns 13401 to 13417.
completed as a Mk.HR.51

British Ministry of Supply issued serial XK902, for use by Royal Australian Navy
23.2.56 First flight at Hatfield
1.3.56 Taken on Royal Navy charge at Abbotsinch, Glasgow, Scotland
9.3.56 XK902 & XL507 were ferried to Glasgow Docks to be delivered to Australia on the maiden voyage of RAN's new aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne
10.3.56 Taken on RAN charge as XK902
10.3.56 Loaded on HMAS Melbourne at Glasgow Docks
14.3.56 HMAS Melbourne sailed from Glasgow on delivery voyage to Australia.
Carried RAN aircraft purchases: 39 Sea Venoms, 22 Gannets, 2 Sycamores, also an Avro 707A for RAAF trials in Australia.
5.56 Aircraft off-loaded from HMAS Melbourne at Jervis Bay NSW, near Nowra. Melbourne then continued to Sydney where it arrived 9.5.56
15.5.56 Received at Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for preparation
2.8.56 Allotted Nowra, 723 Squadron
3.8.56 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
25.10.56 Allotted 724 Squadron, Nowra
31.1.57 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
11.7.57 Allotted 723 Squadron, Nowra
17.7.57 Carried a line across the Woronora River near Lucas Heights, south of Sydney to provide power to the Atomic Energy Laboratory at Lucas Heights
3.10.57 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
12.12.57 Allotted Nowra
10.1.58 Crashed in mountains near Grafton NSW. While operating on support duties for HMAS Warrego on an exercise to chart coastal waters, carried survey marker poles 25 miles south of Grafton.  Aircraft crashed on the Bald Knob Range coastal mountain range, rolled down a slope before falling off a cliff and lodging vertically on a narrow ledge. Pilot and one passenger unhurt, 3 other passengers were injured.
31.1.58 Wreck allotted from Nowra to Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for salvage of engine and components
6.58 Bankstown report: "Dumped outside the Bristol hangar was part of the fuselage of another Sycamore, RAN "902"
26.6.58 Struck-off RAN charge





Sycamore HR.51   C/n 13407  Code 903, 993        (XK903), XL507


Built by Bristol Aircraft Ltd at Old Mixon, Western-super-Mare.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the eighth production batch of 17 Sycamores. C/ns 13401 to 13417.
Completed as a Mk.HR.51

British Ministry of Supply issued serial XK903 for use by Royal Australian Navy

Order for two HR.51s had been placed, allocated XK902 & XK903. However a separate contract was subsequently raised for the second machine, and for administrative purposes the Ministry of Supply replaced XK903's serial with XL507
1.3.56 First flight at Filton, marked XK903
3.3.56 Serial changed to XL507
6.3.56 Taken on Royal Navy charge at Abbotsinch, Glasgow, Scotland
3.56 XK902 & XL507 were ferried to Glasgow Docks to be delivered to Australia on the maiden voyage of RAN's new aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne
9.3.56 Loaded aboard HMAS Melbourne
10.3.56 Taken on RAN charge as XL507
10.3.56 Loaded on HMAS Melbourne at Glasgow Docks
14.3.56 HMAS Melbourne sailed from Glasgow on delivery voyage to Australia.
Carried RAN aircraft purchases: 39 Sea Venoms, 22 Gannets, 2 Sycamores, also an Avro 707A for RAAF trials in Australia.
5.56 Aircraft off-loaded from HMAS Melbourne at Jervis Bay NSW, near Nowra. Melbourne then continued to Sydney where it arrived 9.5.56
15.5.56 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for preparation
14.7.56 Allotted Nowra, 723 Squadron
26.7.56 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
25.10.56 Allotted 724 Squadron, H Flight HMAS Melbourne
13.12.56 Allotted Nowra
21.2.57 Allotted 723 Squadron
14.3.57 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
24.5.57 Ditched in China Sea off HMAS Melbourne
30.5.58 Struck off RAN charge

  

  XL507 in bare metal finish, no RAN markings.  The Collection p0850-0181




Sycamore Mk.4, HR.51 C/n 13270  Code 852  G-AOBM, CF-HVX, G-18-5, G-AOBM, XN448, VH-SYC

.55 Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1
55 Part of the sixth production batch of 10 Sycamores. C/ns 13264 to 13273.
completed as a Mk.HR.51
12.4.55 Registered as Sycamore Series 4 G-AOBM Bristol Aeroplane Company Ltd, Filton, Bristol
19.5.55 British CofA issued
24.5.55 Struck-off British Register as sold to Canada
25.5.55 Flown to Avonmouth Docks for shipment to Canada on board SS Gloucester City
5.55 Registered CF-HVX
2.56 CF-HVX flew from Winnipeg to Mexico City on North American sales tour

Returned to Old Mixon, Weston-super-Mare for overhaul and sale
10.57 CF-HVX noted at Weston-super-Mare

Allocated B Class Registration G-18-5
13.11.57 Returned to British Register G-AOBM Bristol Aircraft Ltd, Filton, Bristol

British Ministry of Supply allocated serial XN448 for use by Royal Australian Navy

Converted by Bristol to Mk.HR.51 for RAN
16.4.58 First flight after miitary conversion
24.4.58 Struck-off British Register as sold to Royal Australian Navy
29.4.58 Flown to London Docks for loading on a ship
6.58 Delivered to Australia as cargo on a merchant vessel
26.6.58 Brought on RAN charge as XN448
26.6.58 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for storage
12.58 Under preparation by Bristol Aviation Services for issue
22.1.59 Issued to Nowra, 723 Squadron
1.59 Arrived Nowra ex Bristol Aviation Services painted as "13270" (its construction number) as serial and operated by RAN a such for a short time then repainted XN448
29.1.59 Allotted HMAS Melbourne
15.2.60 Flew Moruya NSW to Sydney on a medical evacuation operation
29.5.60 XN448 coded "852" noted at Bankstown airshow in static park, allover silver, yellow bands on tail boom
2.9.61 XN448 "852" noted at Auckland Harbour NZ on board HMAS Melbourne
17.9.61 XN448 "852" noted Port Melbourne on board HMAS Melbourne
2.10.61 XN448 "852" noted at Nowra, 723 Sqn, silver with yellow markings
1.4.62 XN448 "852" at Bankstown airshow, with 2 others.
11.62 XN448 Code 852 on strength 723 Sqn, midnight blue and white
.64 Retired at Bankstown, stored at Hawker deHavilland premises
14.9.65 Struck off RAN charge
29.10.65 XN448 code "852" noted Bankstown in Bristol Aviation hangar, sealed for storage
7.66 Advertised for civil disposal by tender by Australian Department of Supply
31.8.66 Closing date for Tender issued by Department of Supply: location Bankstown, complete
10.66 XN448 code 852 in RAN blue scheme parked outside Bristol Aviation Services hangar at Bankstown, code "852" main and tail rotor blades removed and in crate alongside. Unmoved until January 1967
1.67 Sold to J. Rose Motors, Melbourne Vic to replace their VH-GVR crashed 26.1.67
14.2.67 Registered VH-SYC G. V. Rose Motors, Melbourne Vic
This company later establish Jayrow Helicopters at Moorabbin Airort, Melbourne
16.2.67 Ferried Bankstown-Moorabbin, RAN blue scheme with white registration letters
3.5.67 VH-SYC noted at Essendon
67 photo at Moorabbin: midnight blue with white roof, VH-SYC on tail boom
1.1.68 noted at Moorabbin, polished metal finish. Parked with VH-BAW. Also 20.1.68
3.68
Purchased by Associated Helicopter Services Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW
2.11.68
Damaged in forced landing “Bow River” Station, via near Turkey Creek WA, south of Wyndham.
After hovering over an area, which the pilot Gerhard M. Grandt decided was unsuitable for landing, the helicopter over-pitched when he attempted to climb above a small tree in the climb path. When RPM decayed, the helicopter settled lightly on the ground but the main rotor blades struck trees and disintegrated. No injuries to pilot & 3 passengers.
Remote location, 60 miles from the Bow River Homestead.

12.68
VH-SYC’s insurer Air Claims Ltd, Sydney received a total of 4 claims in two weeks after the accident: the initial event of blades striking the tree, another for damage by fire, further damage on ground through causes unknown, and finally radio equipment stolen by persons unknown.
Because it was a Partial Loss Policy, Air Claims paid out on the last two incidents but did not become owner of the aircraft or have any salvage rights.

69
Associated Helicopter Services Pty Ltd was in liquidation. DCA had completed its investigation into the accident and the aircraft (in situ) became the property of the company's creditors.
14.8.72
Struck-off Register
79
Experienced RAAF pilot Don Ende, who was now with RAAF Air Training Corps HQ at Perth planned to salvage the Sycamore and bring it to Perth as a ground training aid for ATC cadets. However the plan was 8`1. Ende then offered all the assistance and information he had gathered to RAAF Association, Bull Creek, Perth in order that they might salvage the Sycamore for their Aviation Heritage Museum
81
After 18 months of negotiations with the numerous parties involved, ownership of VH-SYC was transferred for the sum of $1 to RAAF Association, Perth WA, 

Agreement reached with RAAF that should a Chinook heavy helicopter be in the Kimberleys area, subject to operational requirements, it would be diverted to attempt to air-lift the Sycamore from its forced landing site to Kununurra WA.
12.81
A RAAF Chinook from No.12 Squadron, under command of Sqn Ldr Graham Chalmers, was in the area.
Guided by Kerry Slingsby of Helimuster Ltd at Kununurra, the Sycamore was located and its crew spent 90 minutes at the site.
The decision was made not to attempt to lift the Sycamore because of concern that air pressure build-up in the Sycamore cabin, due to loss of almost all the perspex canopy, would cause it to be uncontrollable or break-up.

The RAAF crew report detailed VH-SYC's poor condition, due to exposure to the humid heat of the region and vandalism.  All windows were smashed and perspex removed, many small parts had been cut off and the rear tail boom with tail rotor had been dismantled and removed.

RAAF Association considered various other recovery methods, but all were uneconomical due to the remoteness of the crash site and its distance from Perth.   
15
The stripped Sycamore still parked on its undercarriage at the forced landing site, via Turkey Creek WA

     

     XN448 flies off HMAS Melbourne in Auckland Harbour September 1961. Photo by Mike Madden


     

    XN448 at Bankstown Airport April 1962. The Collection p0850-0320


   

     XN448 after retirement, at Bankstown in November 1966.  The Collection p0850-0323


   

    XN448 as VH-SYC at Moorabbin, January 1968. Photo by Geoff Goodall



         Two views of VH-SYC in April 2015, abandoned at the forced landing site in northern WA.  Photo: Nathan Clapham






Sycamore HR.51   C/n 13504  Code 853        XN449


Built by Bristol Aircraft Ltd at Old Mixon, Western-super-Mare.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the tenth production batch of 50 Sycamores. C/ns 13458 to 13507.
completed as a Mk.HR.51

British Ministry of Supply issued serial XN449 for use by Royal Australian Navy
10.2.59 First flight at Western-super-Mare as G-18-177

Testflown with British Class B registration G-18-177
31.3.59 Flown to Newport Docks for loading on ship
5.59 Shipped to Australia on merchant ship SS Araluen
19.6.59 Taken on charge by RAN
19.6.59 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for assembly
10.60 Overturned on landing at Nowra
2.10.61 XN449 noted Nowra, code Code "853", silver with yellow markings, 723 Squadron
1.4.62 XN449 "853" at Bankstown airshow with two other RAN Sycamores
3.9.62 Crashed and destroyed by fire near Nowra.  While on a training flight from Nowra the engine failed at 30 feet altitude 2 miles from the airfield. Aircraft crashed on a steep hillside and rolled down the slope. Wreckage caught fire.
Lt. M. Astbury and Sub Lt. N. Dennett received minor injuries.

   

    XN449 code 853. Geoff Goodall collection


   

    XN449 Bankstown April 1962. The Collection p0850-0324




Sycamore HR.51   C/n 13505    Code 848      XN450


Built by Bristol Aircraft Ltd at Old Mixon, Western-super-Mare.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the tenth production batch of 50 Sycamores. C/ns 13458 to 13507.
Construction ceased at 13505, making this the last Sycamore built, completed as a Mk.HR.51
12.58 First flight at Weston-super-Mare as G-18-178

Testflown with British Class B registration G-18-178

British Ministry of Supply issued serial XN450 for use by Royal Australian Navy
3.3.59 First flight as XN450
5.59 Shipped to Australia on merchant ship SS Araluen
19.6.59 Taken on RAN charge as XN450
19.6.59 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for assembly
.59 Allotted Nowra, 723 Squadron
2.10.61 XN450 noted Nowra, Code "848", silver with yellow markings, 723 Squadron
1.4.62 XN450 "848" at Bankstown airshow with two other RAN Sycamores
11.62 XN450 on strength 723 Squadron, midnight blue and white, code 848
14.9.65 Struck off RAN charge. Toyal flying time 1351 hrs.
7.66 Advertised for civil disposal by tender by Australian Department of Supply
31.8.66 Closing date for Tender issued by Department of Supply: location Nowra, without engine
14.9.66 Sold to Business Aviation Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW
2.67 Sold to Associated Helicopter Services Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW.
Reportedly purchased for spare parts
2.67 XA220, XN450 & XR592 from RAN at Nowra arrived Camden for Business Aviation Pty Ltd of Bankstown. All are fitted with external winches and are complete except radio. Two were in the Skyservice Aviation hangar at Camden 6.67
23.3.68 XN450 noted Camden, code 848, callsign reminder "VJODH"
72 Camden Museum of Aviation, Camden Airport NSW, later Narellan NSW
18.6.72 XN450 noted at Narellan in museum building 
.79 Acquired by Sid Beck/ Sid Beck's Military Museum, Townsville Qld, later Mareeba Qld
11.8.80 XN450 noted at Becks museum near Townsville "848"
23.7.83 XN450 noted at Becks museum near Townsville "848"
c88 moved to new museum site on a farm near Mareeba Qld
22.10.09 XN450 noted at Becks Military Museum near Mareeba Qld, RAN blue scheme "848"

Current

  

  XN450 at Bankstown April 1962. The Collection p0850-0331b


  

  XN450 “848” in the later RAN dark blue scheme, Sydney Harbour.  The Collection p0850-0330


  

  XN450 at Beck's Military Museum, Mareeba Qld, October 2009. Photo by Bert van Drunick




Sycamore Mk.4, HR.51    C/n 13070        Code 851    G-AMWI, (XN635), XR592, VH-BAW


Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the second production batch of 10 Sycamores. C/ns 13062 to 13071.
To be a Mk.3 as a Bristol company demonstrator, but completed as a Series 4
1.12.52 Registered as Sycamore Series 4 G-AMWI  Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, Filton, Bristol
7.9.53 CofA issued
9.53 at Farnborough Air Show, Mk.4 demonstrator, all silver, fitted with two stretchers
6.9.54 at Farnborough Air Show, Mk.4 demonstrator
9.54 flew into Southbank Heliport, London

Over 5 years was demonstrated in France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Austria.

photo G-AMWI wearing "Autair" company titles, carrying equipment to a lighthouse
6.55 at Paris Air Show, Le Bourget in static display park
4.9.55 at Farnborough Air Show, Mk.4 demonstrator
1.1.56 Change of owner's name: Bristol Aircraft Ltd, Filton, Bristol
56 took part in Pye airborne TV experiments
7.56 G-AMWI noted at Filton, dismantled, centre fuselage on a stand in the rear of the Bristol flight shed
3.9.56 displayed at Farnborough Air Show, painted in new Bristol colours of crimson and white
5.57 G-AMWI demonstrated at Paris Air Show
6.57 G-AMWI was used as a dual control trainer for German pilots as part of the Luftwaffe order for Sycamores. Training continued until 1.58
2.9.57 G-AMWI demonstrated at Farnborough Air Show, its fifth consecutive year at Farnborough
2.58 Logbook of Peter Wilson, Bristol test pilot: he flew G-AMWI at Weston-super-Mare in every month of 1958 except January and August. There was a gap in his regular flights, between 9.7.58 to next flight 1.9.58
23.9.58 G-AMWI took part in helicopter displays at Christchurch, England for a NATO conference
4.59 G-AMWI had a forced landing at Weston-super-Mare, England
22.10.60 Change of owner's name: Westland Aircraft Ltd (Bristol Helicopter Division), Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
4.4.61 Logbook of Peter Wilson, Bristol test pilot: his last flight in G-AMWI at Weston-super-Mare
5.61 Purchased by RAN
61 converted to Mk.HR.51 for Royal Australian Navy
61 British Ministry of Supply issued serial XN635
61 XN635 duplicated a Jet Provost serial, Sycamore changed to XR592
6.61 Shipped to Australia on merchant ship SS Africa
13.7.61 Struck-off British Register as sold to Australia

G-AMWI Logbook: Final entry total flying time 1119 hrs 34 min

XR592 Logbook: taken on charge by RAN: total flying time 1119 hrs 34 min.
XR592 Logbook: "Aircraft originally on British Civil Register as Sycamore 171 Mk.4 registration G-AMWI, then converted for RAN registration number XR592"
24.8.61 Taken on RAN charge as XR592
24.8.61 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for assembly
12.61 Allotted Nowra, 723 Squadron

Reportedly arrived at Nowra still painted as XN635

XR592 served on HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Sydney
26.7.62 XR592 code "851" noted Bankstown, midnight blue
11.62 XR592 in service with RAN 723 Squadron, code 851
17.7.63 Damaged on takeoff, rolled over
7.63 Allotted Bristol Aviation Services, Bankstown for repair
8.64 Allotted Nowra
26.10.64 XR592 visited Sydney Airport
14.9.65 Struck-off RAN charge
65 XR592 Log: Final page quotes total flying time logged as 1715 hrs 25 mins. The same number of hours is quoted in VH-BAW's civil log book as the starting hours on the airframe.
7.66 Advertised for civil disposal by tender by Australian Department of Supply
31.8.66 Closing date for Tender issued by Department of Supply: location Nowra, complete
14.9.66 Sold to Business Aviation Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW
2.67 XA220, XN450 & XR592 from RAN at Nowra arrived Camden for Business Aviation Pty Ltd of Bankstown. All are fitted with external winches and are complete except for radio.Two were in the Skyservice Aviation hangar at Camden 6.67
5.3.67 XR592 noted Camden in hangar, rotor blades removed. Full RAN scheme midnight blue and white, code "851".
6.10.67 XR592 noted Moorabbin on low-loader truck from Camden, full RAN midnight blue scheme, code "851"
14.11.67 Registered VH-BAW Business Aviation Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW

VH-BAW Airframe Logbook quotes serial 13070
20.1.68 VH-BAW noted at Moorabbin, with VH-SYC
20.7.68 VH-BAW noted at Bankstown, midnight blue with white roof
26.4.69 VH-BAW noted at Bankstown, midnight blue with white roof, having engine maintenance
13.3.70 VH-BAW noted Bankstown, midnight blue with white roof
20.9.70 VH-BAW noted Bankstown
5.71 Sold to Camden Museum of Aviation, Camden Airport NSW
12.6.71 moved by road from Bankstown to Camden for Camden Museum of Aviation
20.8.71 VH-BAW noted at Camden Museum of Aviation.  
14.8.72 Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service

Displayed Camden in 723 Squadron markings as "851"
.79 Camden Museum of Aviation moved to a newly erected hangar at Narellan, near Camden  

Currently displayed at Camden Museum of Aviation, Narellen NSW

    

  XR592 arrives at Moorabbin 6 October 1967. Photo by Peter Limon


  

  VH-BAW at Moorabbin January 1968. Photo by Geoff Goodall


  

  Panoramic view at Bankstown in April 1969. Photo by Roger McDonald


  

  XR592 at Camden Museum of Aviation, Narellan NSW in 2006. The Collection





Unidentified instructional airframe at Bankstown "G-AMWI"

Overlapping the previous listed G-AMWI/XR592's history was an unidentified Sycamore test rig airframe in the Bristol Aviation Services hangar at Bankstown, all over silver with "G-AMWI" painted on the fuselage boom. All the perspex back to the leading edge of the door frames was replaced with an almost flat metal sheeting with two large flat windows. It is assumed to be a composite u/s airframe, possibly supplied from UK, using a replaced boom from G-AMWI.


6.58 "G-AMWI" noted Bankstown at Bristol Aviation Services hangar
29.5.60 "G-AMWI" noted at Bankstown
11.61 "G-AMWI" reported at Bankstown for static use
4.62 "G-AMWI" noted Bankstown in Bristol Aviation Services hangar. All the perspex back to the leading edge of the door frames was replaced with an almost flat metal sheeting with two large flat windows. Allover silver with civil registration on rear boom. Reportedly used as a engine test rig.
c62 Photo at Bankstown suspended from Bristol's engine change gantry next to their hangar. Flat metal front panel. All siver with G-AMWI on boom
2.1.63 "G-AMWI" noted at Bankstown
22.8.64 "Sycamore ex G-AMWI" noted Bankstown in Bristol Aviation hangar, in use as a non-flying engine testbed
29.10.65 "G-AMWI" noted Bankstown in Bristol Aviation hangar, overall silver, sealed for storage
11.2.67 "G-AMWI" noted Bankstown on grass outside Hawker de Havilland Aircraft military hangars, flat front panel with two large windows. Parked with retired RAN Firefly, Gannet and Sea Venom aircraft waiting disposal. All silver, emblem of turtle on port cabin door






3. AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL AIRWAYS SYCAMORES:


Australian National Airways Pty Ltd announced on 7 October 1955 that their first Sycamore helicopter was expected to arrive in Melbourne in November.  The airline's Planning and Development Manager Mr. Ian H. Grabowsky noted that ANA had yet to receive its import licence for the type, which had been paid and was waiting to be shipped ex Southampton. ANA Senior Captain Max Holyman had been trained at Bristols and would be Chief Helicopter Pilot. On 22 February 1956 the Minister for Customs advised that import licence had been granted.



Sycamore Mk.4   C/n 13403    Yarrana      G-AODL, VH-INO

.55 Built by Bristol Aircraft Ltd at Old Mixon, Western-super-Mare.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Part of the eighth production batch of 17 Sycamores. C/ns 13401 to 13417.
completed as a Mk.4
29.6.55 Registered as Sycamore Mk.4 G-AODL Bristol Aeroplane Company Ltd, Filton, Bristol
19.9.55 British CofA issued
.55 Sold to Australian National Airways Pty Ltd, Melbourne
3.56 Stored crated at Filton due delay in Australian import permit. It had been crated up some time ago for ANA.
.56 Shipped to Australia
2.5.56 Arrived at Melbourne for trans-shipment to Tasmania
11.5.56 Struck-off British Register as sold to Australia
11.5.56 Registered VH-INO Australian National Airways Pty Ltd, Melbourne Vic.  Name Yarrana
11.5.56 Testflown Hobart, Tasmania after assembly
19.5.56 Australian CofA issued
19.5.56 Naming ceremony at the new Hobart Airport before a large crowd. Tasmanian Premier Mr Cosgrove named the Sycamore Yarrana (Aboriginal for swift whirlwind). The aircraft will be initially based in Tasmania for survey, mapping and support for the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Authority.
19.5.56 As part of the publicity event, VH-INO carried an umpire to a football match in North Hobart. It was claimed to be the first commercial helicopter operation in Australia.
.56/57 Chartered by Adastra Aerial Surveys to conduct an electro-magnetic survey at Queenstown, Tasmania. The helicopter was used to tow a magnetometer/scintillometer "bird" through the tree tops. The pilots were Max Holyman and Jim Ferguson (ex RAN).
10.56 Medivac flight from Zeehan to Hobart, landing on Domain near Hobart Hospital, pilot Captain Max Hollyman
15.1.57 Forced landing due water in the fuel, made auto-rotational landing near Mount Sorrell Tas. Main and tail rotor blades damaged.

Newspaper report: "In the early afternoon of Tuesday January 15th, Australian National Airways' Bristol Sycamore helicopter 'Yarrana' was forced to make an auto-rotational landing on its return flight to Queenstown after positioning geologists on remote hilltops in southern Tasmania. The mishap was not due to any mechanical fault, but was the result of water in the aircraft's fuel system which stopped the engine while flying over wild country near the base of Mt. Sorrel, some 19 miles from Queenstown. Although the pilot, Captain Max Holyman, successfully carried out an emergency landing, a patch of soft marsh ground caused one wheel of the helicopter to sink, titling the aircraft, and thus damaging the main and tail rotor blades. Max Holyman and a passenger camped for four days by the helicopter until help arrived."
2.57 Chartered by Bureau of Mineral Resources to make a survey of Canning Basin WA, 25 flying hours over 4 days
23.3.57 Medivac of a patient from thick forest near Queenstown Tas, who was flown to Queenstown hospital. Pilor Captain Max Hollyman.  
57 Chartered by Adastra Aerial Surveys to tow a trailing magnetometer "bird" at very low level in Queenstown area, Tasmania. Pilot Jim Ferguson.
21.10.57 Change of owner's name: Ansett-ANA, Melbourne Vic.
Operated by Ansett-ANA Helicopter Division.
4.8.58 noted at Bankstown, all metallic, "Ansett-ANA" titles, name Yarrana
9.9.59 arrived Rockhampton Qld to set up agricultural spraying operations against noxious weeds in the area
12.9.59 at airshow Dingo Qld, gave a spraying demonstration
11.1.60 Crashed Nundle State Forest NSW. While conducting agricultural operations near Tamworth against stick-insect infestation in the area. DCA accident report:
The pilot attempted takeoff without first ensuring the Centre of Gravity was within safe limits. Full back cyclic stick proved inadequate to maintain control and the aircraft rolled to the left striking the ground.
Ansett-ANA Captain R. Jones and the one passenger both seriously hurt.
11.1.60 Struck-off Register


          VH-INO at Bankstown. Photo by Lindsay Wise


         VH-INO lifts off at Bankstown. Photo by Lindsay Wise


         VH-INO at Sydney as a flying advertising bill board. Geoff Goodall collection


      

      Essendon 1959, now with "Ansett-ANA" titles.  The Collection p0850-0565


  

Essendon 1960 showing the agricultural hopper installation.  The Collection p0850-0738


  

     VH-INO crash site at Nundle State Forest NSW, 11 January 1960.  Photo by Lindsay Wise




Sycamore Mk.3A   C/n 13068          G-AMWG, VH-INQ

.52 Built by Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd at Filton, Bristol.  550hp Alvis Leonides 524/1

Ordered by British European Airways as a Mk.3A with an additional freight hold aft of the engine bay

Part of the second production batch of 10 Sycamores. C/ns 13062 to 13071.
Completed as a Mk.3A with enlarged luggage locker and taller undercarriage.
1.12.52 Registered G-AMWG Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, Filton, Bristol
16.6.53 Change of ownership: British European Airways Corporation, London
25.6.53 CofA issued
53 Flew in BEA colour scheme with name Sir Gawain
15.6.54 G-AMWG & G-AMWH inaugurated a BEA experimental air service Eastleigh-Heathrow- Northolt
8.4.55 G-AMWG noted London-Gatwick in BEA scheme "Sir Gawain", operating an experimental service Birmingham-Heathrow-Gatwick
6.7.56 Change of ownership: Bristol Aircraft Ltd, Filton, Bristol
8.56 G-AMWG noted at Filton, repurchased by Bristol from BEAC and resprayed red and white with large titles Bristol Sycamore painted on fuselage sides
3.9.56 at Farnborough Air Show, painted in new Bristol colours of crimson and white
27.4.58 G-AMWG noted at Oxford-Kidlington, listed available for sale during a W.S.Shackleton Ltd "Sales Weekend" event, price £16,000
2.7.58 Struck-off British Register as sold to Australia

Shipped to Australia

Photo: G-AMWG at Essendon, "Bristol Sycamore" markings, at Ansett-ANA hangar
19.9.58 Registered VH-INQ  Ansett-ANA, Melbourne Vic            

The aircraft was not given a name. The ANA practice of naming its aircraft was dropped after the takeover by Ansett Airways in October 1957 to become Ansett-ANA.
4.59 Repainted in Ansett-ANA red/blue colour scheme.
Ansett-ANA did not give names to its aircraft, so remained unnamed.
4.9.61 Crashed at Glengyle Homestead Qld. In the Birdsville area of western Queensland.
DCA accident report: For reasons which have not been determined, a heavy landing occurred at the completion of a re-familiarisation circuit. There was a structural failure of the tail boom and the helicopter overturned. The pilot was not injured.


     

      G-AMWG "Sir Gawain" with BEA.  Photo: Ed Coates collection


     

     G-AMWG in 1959 at Essendon.  The Collection p0850-0567


   

    VH-INQ at Essendon circa 1960. Photo by Barry Maclean


   

    VH-INQ with spraying booms. Fred Niven collection


   

   VH-INQ at work spraying. Fred Niven collection






Tailpiece:

Ansett-ANA’s Sycamores were occasionally used for joyrides at Essendon Airport on weekends.  Helicopter operating costs would have made this a highly uneconomic proposition. Here a patient family waits for their ride while VH-INO has maintenance between flights. The Collection p0850-0453






References:

- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation and its successors

- Accidents to Australian Civil Aircraft, DCA annual publication 1956-1969

- British Civil Register, Civil Aviation Authority: G-INFO website

- RAAF Status Cards A91-1 & A91-2, RAAF Historical Section, Canberra

- Australian Air Log, monthly, various issues 1965-1968

- Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journal, monthly, various issues 1960-1968

- Flypast A Record of Aviation in Australia, Neville Parnell and Trevor Boughton, CAA 1988

- British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, A. J. Jackson, Putnam, 1973, 2nd edition

- Bristol Aircraft Since 1910, C. H. Barnes, Putnam, 1964

- British Military Aircraft Serials 1911-1979, - Bruce Robertson, Patrick Stephens 1979

- Aircraft in Australia series: Bristol 171, early draft, compiled by John Hopton, 1999

- RAN Bristol Sycamore, listing, compiled by John Hopton, 1997

- Wings of the Albatross - 723 Squadron RAN, - Andrew Thomas, Air Enthusiast magazine No.70  

- Wings Across The Sea, Ross Gillett, Aerospace Publication, Sydney 1988

- Royal Australian Navy Sycamores, Eric Myall & Lee Howard, Air Britain

- N5 - Bristol 171 Sycamore, John Bennett, Australian Aviation magazine November 1995

- Fifty Plus Years - The Bristol 171 Sycamore, John Hopton, Flightpath magazine May 2003

- AHSA Newsletter Vol 3 No.4 1987: RAN Sycamore listing by Nigel Daw & Melvyn Davis, and correspondence in following issues

- AHSA Newsletter Vol 5 No.1 1989: letter from Alan Thomas, Camden Museum of Aviation,

quoting extracts from VH-BAW's civil and military log books

- RAN Bristol Sycamores, Air Britain Aeromilitaria Winter 2002

- VH-SYC History Sheet, Aviation Heritage Museum, Perth: compiled by Merv Prime

- RAN Sycamores - Feedback Postscript, Air Britain Aeromilitaria Spring 2004

- Airlines and Aircraft of the Ansett Group 1921-2002, CD compiled by Fred Niven, Edition 8, 2011

- Commonwealth Aviation News, Air Britain, August 1958: Bankstown report page 32

- British Civil Aviation News, Air Britain, 1953-60: references to Sycamores

- Adastra Aerial Surveys website: www.adastra.adastron.com

 

 

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