August 2015

2015 AugustWestland WS-51, Series 2, Widgeon
First Flight: August 23, 1955

Westland entered the helicopter market by acquiring a licence from Sikorsky to build the S-51.

The terms of this agreement were surprisingly generous, allowing worldwide sales and some design freedom.

As a result the Westland team led by O.L.L. Fitzwilliams (an associate of Raoul Hafner) was able to produce the Widgeon, a comfortable five seat civil adaption with a metal rotor, and increased power. The first Widgeon flew August 21, 1955. Although only fourteen were built the exercise led the way for the establishment of a full design team at Yeovil, that was to lead to the record breaking Lynx.

Although a derivative of the Westland-Sikorsky WS-51 Dragonfly, the Widgeon was Westland Aircraft’s first production helicopter design. Over 1200 aircraft based upon Sikorsky designs were produced and sold worldwide as result of the agreement.

(Photo by AgustaWestland; text by David Gibbings)

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