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The Royal Navy Wasp

Larry Jeram-Croft & Terry Martin

An Operational & Retirement History
This book tells the story of the first helicopter in the world designed from the outset to be deployed at sea, in Destroyers and Frigates. It is primarily based on the words of those who operated it. Designed from the outset to cope with the restricted space of a warship both for stowage and flight operations it proved an immediate success.
The book has accounts of operations around the world particularly during the Cold War of the Seventies and the Falklands War where amongst other things it had the honour of being the first RN platform ever, to fire a guided missile at a surface target. However the story doesn't end there.
Although the aircraft went out of service in the Royal Navy in 1988, it continued to operate with other navies around the world. To this day there are still several airworthy examples flying. The second part of the book gives accounts of these machines and brings the story of the Wasp completely up to date.

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This book tells the story of the first helicopter in the world designed from the outset to be deployed at sea, in Destroyers and Frigates. It is primarily based on the words of those who operated it. Designed from the outset to cope with the restricted space of a warship both for stowage and flight operations it proved an immediate success. Its original role was to act as a weapon carrier to launch torpedoes and depth charges on submarine contacts out of range of the parent ship's weapons range. Soon, it also took on a second primary role of air to surface attack using wire guided missiles. The flexibility of the machine was such that it was able to conduct a plethora of secondary roles from visual search to collecting the all-important ship's mail. Wherever the Royal Navy was deployed on operations a Wasp was there. The book has accounts of operations around the world particularly during the Cold War of the Seventies and the Falklands War where amongst other things it had the honour of being the first RN platform ever, to fire a guided missile at a surface target. However the story doesn't end there. Although the aircraft went out of service in the Royal Navy in 1988, it continued to operate with other navies around the world. To this day there are still several airworthy examples flying. The second part of the book gives accounts of these machines and brings the story of the Wasp completely up to date.

ISBN: 9781526721143
Format: Hardback
Author(s): Larry Jeram-Croft & Terry Martin
First Publishment Date: 1 December 2018

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  1. I recommend this book to a readership beyond that of aviation enthusiasts alone. review by AM - Warship World on 29/08/2019

    This book tells the story of the first helicopter in the world designed from the outset for deployment at sea in destroyers and frigates, its design taking specific account of the restricted space available for stowage and flight operations. Those of us who remember the 60’s Tribal Class frigates will recall asking ourselves in our initial ignorance “where on earth does it go?”, only to discover, and marvel, that their compact hangar’s roof doubled as the flight deck. The Wasp’s original operational role was to carry torpedoes and depth-charges beyond its parent ship’s own anti-submarine weapon range, the acronym “MATCH” standing for Medium Range Anti-Submarine Torpedo-Carrying Helicopter, but it soon acquired a much wider set of roles: air-to-surface attack with missiles and/or guns (ably demonstrated during the Falklands War), reconnaissance, search-and-rescue, medevac, stores and mail carrier and airborne captain’s barge, to name but some.

    The book is in two parts, the first: “Wasps in Royal Navy Operational Service”, covers the aircraft’s conception, development, introduction into service and subsequent operation, from its early years to the Cod Wars of the 1970s and further operation worldwide, the Falklands War, and beyond that to its eventual withdrawal from RN service in 1988. The chapter on the Falklands War reveals not only just how many Wasps were there, flying from the many frigates - and other ships too - but also the wide range of tasks they were tasked to perform, HMS Endurance’s Wasp’s participation in the disabling of the Argentine submarine Santa Fe perhaps just the best-known. The many colourful anecdotes in the following “Personal Accounts” chapter contribute further to the book’s readability. The story doesn’t end with the Wasp’s withdrawal from the RN however, as the second part: “Service Overseas And In Retirement”, goes on to tell of its service with other navies worldwide, of which the Royal New Zealand Navy, perhaps the best known, is but one example; it lists the operational life and fate of every airframe and the extension of life still enjoyed by some in “retirement”. That there are several airworthy examples of “the budgie” still flying means there’s now something extra to look out for at air displays and the like.

    This is a thoroughly researched, well-written and absorbingly readable book, superbly illustrated to boot, that tells readers absolutely everything they might want to know about this sturdy, versatile and long-serving little flying workhorse. Both authors clearly know the Wasp inside out, to the extent that what they don’t know you could probably write on the back of a postage stamp, but it’s the manner of their telling the story that lets me recommend this book to a readership beyond that of aviation enthusiasts alone.

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