RAY WATKINS COLLECTION
No. 8897. Saunders-Roe P.501 Skeeter 3 (WF112 c/n W.14/3) Ministry of Supply
Photograph from Westland

Saunders-Roe P.501 Skeeter 3

04/30/2009. Remarks by Ray Watkins: "Juan de la Cierva moved to England in 1925 and in the following year established the Cierva Autogiro Company to hold all patents taken out by Cierva and issue licenses to firms in Great Britain and elsewhere. One of the firms in Great Britain which obtained a license was G. & J. Weir Ltd. of Glasgow.

Cierva was killed in an air crash in 1936 and in 1943 the Cierva company was revived when C.G. Pullen of Weir’s became managing director. Cierva subsequently took over the helicopter activities of Weir’s and moved activities to Hanworth and finally to Eastleigh.

Work on the W.14 was began in 1947 by chief engineer Kenneth Watson when work on the W.11 Air Horse slowed. The Skeeter 1 (G-AJCJ), with an 110 hp Jameson FF-1 engine, appeared in 1948. For the improved Skeeter 2 the engine was changed to the de Havilland Gipsy Major 10.

The Ministry of Supply (MoS) ordered three examples of the W.14 Skeeter 3 (WF112 to WF114 c/n W.14/3 to W.14/5). However, Cierva's dwindling finances late 1950 resulted in the take-over by Saunders-Roe (also known as SARO) of the facilities and designs (including the partly constructed Skeeter 3s), with technical staff and production workers, on January 22, 1951. The Eastleigh plant became the Saunders-Roe Helicopter Division.

Development of the Skeeter continued, as the P.501, and two Skeeter 3s were completed, the aircraft pictured is the first. It was re-engined with a 180 hp Bombardier 702 for the 1952 SBAC Show (as the Skeeter 3b), crashed in April 1953 and was finally scrapped in 1956. The third aircraft (WF114) was finished for evaluation by the RN as the Skeeter 4 and first flew on April 15, 1952, fitted with the Bombardier 702 engine."

Created April 30, 2009