Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Philippe Decock - Translation: Marc Arys  © sbap 2015

The History of Army Flying

For over a century the Army has been putting soldiers in the air. From balloons and biplanes to the most advanced helicopter gunships, flying soldiers have been crucial to the British Army all over the world. There have been five branches of Army flying from 1878 to the present day.


The Museum of Army Flying

The Museum of Army Flying brings to life the exciting story of ‘soldiers in the air’ and gives visitors a fascinating and imaginative glimpse into the world of the army airmen.

The Museum of Army Flying is situated at Hampshire, five miles south of Andover at the Middle Wallop Army Air Corps base.

Middle Wallop was opened in 1940 as RAF Middle Wallop and became a Fighter Command station during the Battle of Britain. The station was also used by the USAAF during WWII but returned to the RAF after the war.

In 1954 a Development Flight (CFS) with helicopters was formed there, which led to the Joint Experimental Helicopter Unit in 1955. On 1 September 1957, when British Army aviation became independent of the RAF, Middle Wallop transferred to the new Army Air Corps and
became the school of Army Aviation, which it has remained to the present date.
What to see 
The museum was established in 1987 and includes two aircraft hangars housing over 35 inspirational aircraft and an array of machines, memorabilia and charts covering nearly 150 years of this incredible history of military flight. The Museum's collection of aircraft includes both fixed wing and rotary aircraft : a restored Westland Lynx, serial XX153, that was used to set two former world helicopter speed records in 1972, an Aérospatiale Gazelle, a Westland Scout, a Westland Lynx, a Bristol Sycamore, the Saunders-Roe Skeeter and a replica of the rotabuggy, among others. The role of the Glider Pilot Regiment is also shown through the exhibit of military gilders, including the Airspeed Horsa and Waco CG-4. Alongside the aircraft, the Museum has a range of incredible artefacts. There are many fascinating hidden treasures and curiosa to be discovered that reflect the incredible stories of the heroes and trailblazers who contributed to the development of flight within the army. Coming to the museum during the morning, one can easely end up spending a whole day immersed in history.
There is plenty for families to enjoy the Museum including an indoor and outdoor playing area, a cinema, a 1940's House and a great gift shop. The Museum is also located next to the Army Air Corps active airfield and visitors can often see Lynx and Apache helicopters on training sorties. The Apache Café offers a range of freshly brewed teas, coffees and light meals with a wonderful view of the airfield.

 De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver AL1  (XP822) Westland Scout AH1 (XP910)
 Army Air Corps pilots gallery
 The Museum...
 Sopwith Pup (N5195)
 The Royal engeneers First World War technicians
 Lest We Forget...
 World War II pilots German field kitchen
 Slingsby Kirby Kite (G285)
  General Aircraft Hotspur glider (HH268)
 Auster AOP.5 (TJ569)
 Authentic wrecks Airspeed AS.58 Horsa II
  The cockpit
Airspeed AS.58 Horsa II  (KJ351)
 Inside the Horsa
 The Waco pilots Waco CG-4A Hadrian
 Operation "Garden Market" card Arnhem area...a bridgge too far
 Miles M-14 Magister I  (T9707) Howitzer 25-pounder gun
 From A.O.P to Army Air Corps uniforms Army Air Corps pilot equipements
 Some historical scene: Confection Observation post
 The life during the war Father is not there, but in mission
Way of life during the war  Protection shelter entrance
 Edgar Percival EP.9 Prospector (XM819) Auster AOP.9 (WZ721)
 Auster AOP.6  (WJ358) Cessna L-19A Bird Dog (111989)
De Havilland Canada Beaver AL.1 (XP821)
 Northrop MQM-36A Shelduck D.1 (XZ795) Ferret Mk5 Scout Car
 Saro Skeeter AOP.12 (XL813)
  Bristol Sycamore HR.14 (XG502)
 Bell Sioux AH.1  (XT108) Sud Aviation Alouette AH.2 (XR232)
 Bell 47G-4A (G-AXKS)
  Westland Scout AH.1  (XP847)
 Aerospatiale Gazelle AH.1 (ZA737)
  Westland Lynx AH.1 (XX153)
 Gulf war... ...another era
 Winter operations Northtern Ireland, another war
 Gala uniform and some Borneo souvenirs
 Brigadier Dickie Parker, one of the founder of the Army Air Corps Last generation helicopter pilot: Apache
Some experimental...
 Rotabuggy 10-42 Replica The Rotachute concept
 Hafner Rotachute III (P-5)
Raoul Hafner

  Raoul Hafner (UK Archives)

The beginning 
Born in 1905, Raoul Hafner went to school in Vienna, first at the university and then at a technical college where he became interested in the rotary-wing concept as a means of making aircraft land more slowly and safely. He obtained a job with the Austrian Air Traffic Company, but his heart was in helicopter design, to which he devoted his spare time, developing the R1 and R2 (R for Revoplane). Subsequently he gave up his job to concentrate on helicopters, building the R2 in 1929 and planning the R3. But instead of constructing the latter, he decided after hearing of the work of the Spanish pioneer Juan de la Cierva in England, to design an autogyro incorporating the principles of the R1 and R2. The Scottish cotton millionaire Major Jack Coates, who had financed Hafner's work in Vienna, had the R2 shipped to Heston Aerodrome in 1933. Hafner contacted the Cierva Company and learned to fly the C.19 and C.30 autogyros. He parted company with Nagler who had come from Austria with him and concentrated on gyroplane design over helicopters. He started his own company, Hafner Gyroplane Co, in 1934 and began to design the ARIII Gyroplane. This machine was flown for the first in 1935 and widely demonstrated afterwards. It incorporated the new principles of cyclic and collective pitch control. In an ensuing controversy between proponents of the autogyro and the helicopter, Hafner made his views clear in a Royal Aeronautical Society lecture on October 14, 1937, when he advocated the rotating wing concept.


Second World War 
From 1938 he was with Pobjoy-Short at Rochester, but in 1940 was interned as an enemy alien, only being released when his naturalization came through. He then developed the Hafner Rotachute, a rotary parachute to be towed behind an aircraft, for landing agents in enemy territory, which was made and tested at the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment development section at RAF Sherburn-in-Elmet. This project was followed by the Rotabuggy, a rotor-equipped jeep. Neither project progressed past testing.
Post War
It was after the war that he and some of his technical team joined Bristol. Hafner becoming Chief Designer with his helicopter department initially producing the four/five seater Type 171. This type went into Royal Air Force services as the Sycamore and won several export orders. Subsequently a much larger tandem-rotor helicopter, the Type 173, was developed, serving as a base for the Type 192. The Belvedere (named after the Belvedere Palace in Vienna next to Hafner's childhood home, which inspired this tandem concept) saw service in RAF squadrons in Britain and overseas. Hafner however was more interested in the civil than the military applications of the helicopter and his long-term ambition was to see the convertible rotor concept (on which he had begun work in 1950) accepted. One of the helicopters being developed at Bristol was the tandem-rotor Type 194, designed to carry 52 passengers, but work on this ended when all British helicopter activities were brought together under Westland Aircraft in 1960. Hafner was appointed technical director, holding this position until his retirement in 1970, and thereafter continuing in a consultant role. During this decade with Westland, he further propounded his convertible rotor ideas, as a means of increasing the helicopters range and speed by tilting the rotors for forward flight. He presented several papers to the Royal Aeronautical Society and when he was interviewed in 1977 by the journal "Aerospace" and asked about his interests outside aviation he remarked (with what was sad irony) that he had "taken a great interest in sailing". He applied his knowledge of aerodynamics to sailing ship design. 

  The rotachute was the first project...(Coll SBAP) ...followed by the rotabuggy (Coll SBAP)
  The first success: Bristol Sycamore also in Belgian Air Force service  (Coll Serge Van Heertum) Bristol type 192 Belvedere
(UK Achives)
 de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk T.10 (WG432) Westland Lynx AH.7 (XZ675)
  Westland Scout AH.1 (XV127)
 Bell AH-1F Cobra  (70-15990) Bell Argentinian Huey UH-1H Iroquois (AE-409)
 Malvinas souvenir!
 Another Argentinian souvenir: Puccara wing ZSU-23-4 Shilka from the first Gulf War in 1991
 Room of Remembrance

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