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Sea King SAR helicopter rotor blades


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I'm on the final stages of building a Royal Navy Sea King HU5 from an old Airfix HAS3 in the Helicopters GB. The instructions for the HAS3 indicate that one of the main rotor blades is yellow but I wonder if this was only on the RAF HAS3's and not the RN HU5's. The walkround pictures and photos in my reference books either don't show it or don't seem to have it so I was going to go with Dark Sea Grey uppers and Medium Sea Grey lower surfaces. However, the instruction sheet for the Model Art HU5 transfers I'm using also indicate that one of the blades is yellow. I know there's a few Sea King experts out there in BM land and hopefully someone will be able to put me on the right track. 

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You might look up the version and even the specific serial of the helo you are building on sites like www.abpic.co.uk and others. Judging from a quick view at the photos, the yellow blade seems to be quite common on RN HU.5s. Does anybody know what it means? Is this blade different from the others (maybe related to the folfing of the rotor blades?)? 

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4 minutes ago, Doc72 said:

You might look up the version and even the specific serial of the helo you are building on sites like www.abpic.co.uk and others. Judging from a quick view at the photos, the yellow blade seems to be quite common on RN HU.5s. Does anybody know what it means? Is this blade different from the others (maybe related to the folfing of the rotor blades?)? 

I think it's intended to make the aircraft more visible when it's operating in mountainous areas or cliff edges; the Coastguard's S-92s and Agusta 189s are fitted with red and white candy striped blades which probably serve a similar purpose

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4 hours ago, Richard E said:

I think it's a case of apply modeller's rule number 1 and check your references because there are examples of the HU Mk.5 with and without a yellow main rotor blade, as in these pictures by Rick Ingham 

 

 

4 hours ago, Doc72 said:

You might look up the version and even the specific serial of the helo you are building on sites like www.abpic.co.uk and others. Judging from a quick view at the photos, the yellow blade seems to be quite common on RN HU.5s. Does anybody know what it means? Is this blade different from the others (maybe related to the folfing of the rotor blades?)? 

Thanks this is really useful. I put the serial of XZ578 into Google and got a load of pictures. One on abpic.co.uk clearly shows it with a yellow blade https://abpic.co.uk/pictures/registration/XZ578 It also shows it with an ID number which the Model Art sheet doesn't. 

 

4 hours ago, junglierating said:

The yellow blade on SAR Sea Kings is as a visual indicator when hovering in restricted areas 

 

4 hours ago, Richard E said:

I think it's intended to make the aircraft more visible when it's operating in mountainous areas or cliff edges; the Coastguard's S-92s and Agusta 189s are fitted with red and white candy striped blades which probably serve a similar purpose

I recall some correspondence on this before and I thought this was the reason. A lot of the rescue work carried out by 771's Prestwick Flight was in the Scottish Highlands and frequently in murky weather so a hi-vis blade would be useful. 

 

As always BM members come up trumps. Thanks everyone. 

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5 hours ago, junglierating said:

The yellow blade on SAR Sea Kings is as a visual indicator when hovering in restricted areas 

As above, it was to give the crew a visual indication of where the blades were, to avoid striking cliff faces and mountainsides . It wasn’t to make the aircraft more visible .

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23 minutes ago, scotthldr said:

As above, it was to give the crew a visual indication of where the blades were, to avoid striking cliff faces and mountainsides . It wasn’t to make the aircraft more visible .

As it's just the top surface of the blade that's yellow (or red/white on HM coastguard), it's not visible to the crew, only to observers above the aircraft. It's not an aid for the crew, it's to make the aircraft more visible from above..

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3 hours ago, Dave Swindell said:

As it's just the top surface of the blade that's yellow (or red/white on HM coastguard), it's not visible to the crew, only to observers above the aircraft. It's not an aid for the crew, it's to make the aircraft more visible from above.

Beat me to it Dave. No use to the crew whatsoever! But very good for conspicuity to other aircraft, and not just in the hills - equally valid over sea or normal countryside. And before anyone asks why a yellow helicopter needs added conspicuity, something spinning at the speed of the blade is much more eye-catching than something moving at the speed of the fuselage (which was often stationary!). And not all the HAR3s were yellow in any case. 

Edited by torqueofthedevil
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XZ578 was coded 830.at Prestwick only the 30 was carried on the S/B side of the nose as all 771 NAS aircraft towards the end ,two aircraft were coded but didn't carry the code on the aircraft also XZ578 was the only one to carry the 60th Anniversary logo at Prestwick. 

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23 hours ago, Dave Swindell said:

As it's just the top surface of the blade that's yellow (or red/white on HM coastguard), it's not visible to the crew, only to observers above the aircraft. It's not an aid for the crew, it's to make the aircraft more visible from above..

Oops 😬, I could’ve swore that the blade was Yellow on both sides, and I worked along side them for 15yrs😂

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I can vouch for how effective they were.  When the RAF Wessex got the yellow blades at SARTU (Valley), the fast jet pilots complained how distracting they were while hovering near the base.  The effect of one blade going round was far more visible than the yellow or fuselage hanging below it.  The main aim was to reduce the risk of airproxes (airmisses then) between SAR cabs and all the other airspace users.

The main problem in use was to balance all the blades.  Certainly on the Wessex, the position of the blade could be varied rather than have it fixed as I recall.  As the blades were referred to by the root tape colour, this could get confusing; ie when is the yellow blade not a yellow blade?

Regards

Tim

 

 

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On 13/09/2020 at 11:32, 825 said:

I'm on the final stages of building a Royal Navy Sea King HU5 from an old Airfix HAS3 in the Helicopters GB. The instructions for the HAS3 indicate that one of the main rotor blades is yellow but I wonder if this was only on the RAF HAS3's and not the RN HU5's. The walkround pictures and photos in my reference books either don't show it or don't seem to have it so I was going to go with Dark Sea Grey uppers and Medium Sea Grey lower surfaces. However, the instruction sheet for the Model Art HU5 transfers I'm using also indicate that one of the blades is yellow. I know there's a few Sea King experts out there in BM land and hopefully someone will be able to put me on the right track. 

According to the engineering drawings, the yellow blade could be fitted to the HAS3 and HU5.

 

Depending on the mod standard of the blade the could be,

Matt Dark Green (Upper) and Matt Black (Lower)

Dark Sea Grey (Upper) and Medium Sea Grey (Lower)

Matt Golden Yellow (Upper) and Medium Sea Grey (Lower).

 

I think the Matt Dark Green was from the early days... So I would suggest that the blades should all be MSG lower and DSG upper (with a single Matt Golden Yellow).

 

I have yet to figure out which colour blade (blade root marking) was painted yellow.

 

It's all worth pointing out that the RAF HAS3s were painted Gloss Golden Yellow on the fuselage, but Matt on the blade.

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Clearly there must be exceptions, as I’ve came across this photo that clearly shows that the blade is yellow on both sides but also shows that this a/c has two yellow blades fitted.

 

https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/westland-sea-king-har-3-search-and-rescue-helicopter-gm503309062-82456903

 

 

Edited by scotthldr
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9 minutes ago, scotthldr said:

Came across this photo that clearly shows that the blade is yellow on both sides but also shows that this a/c has two yellow blades fitted.

 

https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/westland-sea-king-har-3-search-and-rescue-helicopter-gm503309062-82456903

 

 

The drawing coverage instructs that 4 "normal" blades should be fitted and one "yellow" blade should be fitted. Moreover, the drawing coverage says yellow on top only.

 

My colleagues (who have worked as fitters and subsequently engineers on the Sea King - and other Westland aircraft - rotor systems) have assured me what we are seeing is a reflection of the yellow fuselage from the rotor, have a look at the yellow tip cap compared to the darker blade underside.

 

I'm just going through the Sea King manual for blade fold instructions, I'm not sure the yellow blade is tied to any particular blade location either...

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, wellsprop said:

 

 

My colleagues (who have worked as fitters and subsequently engineers on the Sea King - and other Westland aircraft - rotor systems) have assured me what we are seeing is a reflection of the yellow fuselage from the rotor, have a look at the yellow tip cap compared to the darker blade underside.

 

I'm just going through the Sea King manual for blade fold instructions, I'm not sure the yellow blade is tied to any particular blade location either...

 

 

 

I’d concur with the reflection of the airframe colour.

 

The SAR blade was fitted to any of the five hub attachments, the key for blade fold used to be a white PCR (Pitch Change Rod) that aligned with the black or white vertical stripe on the starboard side gearbox fairing.. Also, the blade with no Hyd pipes on the hub was the number one blade that went over the spine for folding.

 

I loved working on the Sea King but I now work on the S92 SAR aircraft, far better a helicopter than the King but you’ll always have a soft spot for the aircraft you used to work on. 

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On 9/13/2020 at 11:32 AM, 825 said:

I'm on the final stages of building a Royal Navy Sea King HU5 from an old Airfix HAS3 in the Helicopters GB. The instructions for the HAS3 indicate that one of the main rotor blades is yellow but I wonder if this was only on the RAF HAS3's and not the RN HU5's. The walkround pictures and photos in my reference books either don't show it or don't seem to have it so I was going to go with Dark Sea Grey uppers and Medium Sea Grey lower surfaces. However, the instruction sheet for the Model Art HU5 transfers I'm using also indicate that one of the blades is yellow. I know there's a few Sea King experts out there in BM land and hopefully someone will be able to put me on the right track. 

Depends what Sqdn you’re doing? 771 and 772 had SAR blades fitted to their Mk 5 and Mk4 respectively. The Pingers of 706, 810, 814, 820, 824 and 826 all had standard green upper and black lower metal blades, changing to composite blades in the late 80’s to 90’s. The Junglies had standard colour blades fitted to 707, 845 and 846 Mk4 Sea Kings. No use being ‘tactical’  with a gurt big yellow blade wizzing round😂

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3 hours ago, Wafu said:

Depends what Sqdn you’re doing? 771 and 772 had SAR blades fitted to their Mk 5 and Mk4 respectively. The Pingers of 706, 810, 814, 820, 824 and 826 all had standard green upper and black lower metal blades, changing to composite blades in the late 80’s to 90’s. The Junglies had standard colour blades fitted to 707, 845 and 846 Mk4 Sea Kings. No use being ‘tactical’  with a gurt big yellow blade wizzing round😂

@Wafu It's an HU5 of 771 Squadron based at Prestwick, so very definitely an SAR cab and not a Pinger or Junglie. This thread has been really helpful. And not just for the info I was after but tons more. Thanks. 

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32 minutes ago, 825 said:

@Wafu It's an HU5 of 771 Squadron based at Prestwick, so very definitely an SAR cab and not a Pinger or Junglie. This thread has been really helpful. And not just for the info I was after but tons more. Thanks. 

Britmodeller at it's best :)

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On 9/15/2020 at 11:11 PM, 825 said:

@Wafu It's an HU5 of 771 Squadron based at Prestwick, so very definitely an SAR cab and not a Pinger or Junglie. This thread has been really helpful. And not just for the info I was after but tons more. Thanks. 

Depends.  The Prestwick SAR cab was provided for many years by 819 NAS (I know because I was Senior Pilot [“SPLOT”] in the early-90s).  The other 8 airframes were standard “Pinger” HAS6s, but as others have said we also had a single HU5 fitted as a specialist SAR aircraft - we were the busiest SAR unit in the UK for year after year.

 

The aircrew were all Pingers; you were appointed to the squadron, not simply SAR, and we rotated our more experienced crews through the SAR flight as and when.  The yellow blade was definitely top only, and was to make it stand out when seen from above.
 

819 was decommissioned in 2001; after that, Gannet SAR was parented from 771 NAS at Culdrose, but still based in 819’s old offices and hangars.

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On 9/15/2020 at 2:57 PM, scotthldr said:

Clearly there must be exceptions, as I’ve came across this photo that clearly shows that the blade is yellow on both sides but also shows that this a/c has two yellow blades fitted.

 

https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/westland-sea-king-har-3-search-and-rescue-helicopter-gm503309062-82456903

 

 

The other fishy thing about that pic is the date - C Flt 22 Sqn stood down on 1st July 2015, so there were no Sea Kings on standby at Valley on the date shown on the photo! As each unit closed, the aircraft were ferried away to storage within a few days.

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