Incident Westland Whirlwind HAR.4 (S-55T) XL113, 05 Aug 1961
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 165530
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Time:14:10 LT
Type:Westland Whirlwind HAR.4 (S-55T)
Owner/operator:228 Squadron Royal Air Force (228 Sqn RAF)
Registration: XL113
MSN: WA152
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:1/2 mile off Browns Point, Cullercoats Bay, Northumberland -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Acklington, Northumberland
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
On 05/08/1961, XL113, a Westland Whirlwind HAR.2 of 228 Sqn, RAF ditched into Cullercoats Bay, off the Northumberland Coast after the engine cut during winching practice. According to the following excerpt from "The Lifeboat" the December 1961 issue of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) magazine:

Tynemouth, and Cullercoats, Northumberland.
At 2.10 on the afternoon of the 5th August, 1961, the life-boat Tynesider stationed at Tynemouth was launched on a routine combined exercise with a helicopter from No. 228 Squadron, R.A.F. Acklington, Northumberland. There was a gentle south-easterly breeze with a slight sea. The tide was ebbing. The life-boat made for a pre-arranged rendezvous about half a mile off Brown's Point, Cullercoats, and communication was established with the helicopter by V.H.F. radio-telephone.

The helicopter dropped a dinghy, and an officer of the R.A.F., who was on board the lifeboat, was placed in the dinghy and cast off. The helicopter then picked him up by winch-hook and hauled him into the aircraft. He was then landed on the stern of the life-boat.

This operation was repeated a second time. The third part of the exercise was then begun. The officer was once more placed in the dinghy and assumed to be injured, and one of the helicopter's crew was lowered as if to give him help. Both were to be picked up later. Shortly after the second man had been lowered into the dinghy the engine of the helicopter, which at the time was hovering about ten to fifteen feet above the water, failed completely, and the helicopter crashed into the sea with its tail across the dinghy.

Both men in the dinghy were thrown into the sea, but the remaining two members of the helicopter's crew managed to escape from their machine. The life-boat turned and approached the four floating men, and by means of lifebuoys and lines they were all hauled on board the life-boat. The helicopter sank almost at once. The four men were given rum, biscuits and hot soup and were landed at the life-boathouse at 4.12.

The exercise had been watched from Cullercoats, and as soon as the helicopter was seen to crash into the sea the life boat E.C.J.R., on temporary duty at the station, was launched at 3.25 with a doctor aboard. By the time she reached the scene the crew of the helicopter had already been rescued by the Tynemouth life-boat, and she dropped an anchor with a marker buoy to indicate the position where the helicopter had disappeared. The Cullercoats life-boat then returned to her station, which was reached at 4.5. The helicopter was successfully salvaged by the R.A.F. two days later"


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p. 205 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft XA100-XZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 2001 p 53)
3. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/40/S3013:
7. The Lifeboat (RNLI Monthly magazine) December 1961 pp 158-159:

Revision history:

16-Apr-2014 17:27 Dr. John Smith Added
14-Nov-2018 06:49 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]
14-Feb-2020 21:21 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative]
14-Feb-2020 21:22 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
02-Dec-2020 22:27 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location]

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