Incident Westland Whirlwind HAR2 (S-55) XJ436, 30 Aug 1955
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 145657
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Type:Westland Whirlwind HAR2 (S-55)
Owner/operator:22 Squadron Royal Air Force (22 Sqn RAF)
Registration: XJ436
MSN: WA/52
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:10 miles west of Selsey Bill, West Sussex -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Thorney Island, Emsworth, Hampshire
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Westland Whirlwind HAR2 XJ436, first flown 18/03/1955, delivered 06/06/1955 to the RAF, and issued to 22 Squadron at Thorney Island, Hampshire

The Whirlwind was, by modern standards, an unsophisticated single-engined aircraft. It was relatively under-powered and in its early days was not particularly reliable; several aircraft ditched or crashed; on 30 August 1955, XJ436, flown by the Officer Commanding 22 Squadron, Squadron Leader Bowry, ditched during a National Press demonstration with a RAF Marine Craft Launch

The engine suffered fuel starvation during the air sea rescue demonstration to the press at Thorney Island, Emsworth, Hampshire, XJ436 fell into the sea, ten miles west of Selsey Bill, West Sussex. According to an article in Aeroplane Monthly (April 1976):

"An Evening News reporter was waiting to be winched off from the deck of RAF launch 2749 by Westland Whirlwind XJ436. After hovering over the launch, the pilot, Squadron Leader Bowry, flew the helicopter to one side while final preparations were made on the deck. As the helicopter came round again, approaching slowly at about 30 feet, the engine spluttered and cut and the Whirlwind fell into the water...In a mist of sudden spray, the Whirlwind tilted over on its starboard side, its rotors thrashing the surface. A crack tore across the word "RESCUE," and the tail boom twisted jerkily. In slow, lurching movements the machine sank over on its side, and we were relieved to see that pilot and navigator (Flt. Sgt. Grant Scoggins) had managed to escape from cockpit and cabin respectively and, with Mae Wests inflated, were floating alongside.

Within two minutes of the initial power failure, the two men had been picked up by the attendant tender; one minute later the machine had disappeared, leaving only small yellow fragments powdering the surface of the Channel"

The crew of XJ436 were rescued by the RAF Launch 2749, although it is not recorded what happened to the unfortunate Evening News reporter!

Whirlwind XJ436 had originally been allocated the serial XD805, but the batch of serials XD781-XJ784 and XD795-XD806 were reallocated serials XJ411-XJ414 and XJ426-XJ437, as the original "XD" serials clashed/overlapped with a batch of Canadair F-86 Sabre F.Mk.4s


1. Illustrated London News - Saturday 10 September 1955
6. British Pathe:

Revision history:

15-May-2012 15:22 Dr. John Smith Added
26-Jun-2012 14:27 Nepa Updated [Operator]
13-Sep-2013 08:56 Dr.John Smith Updated [Total occupants, Source, Narrative]
10-Dec-2018 13:14 Cobar Updated [Source]
21-Feb-2020 01:28 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
21-Feb-2020 01:38 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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