The Westland WS-61 SeaKing was the British licence-built version of the American Sikorsky S-61 helicopter of the same name, built by Westland Helicopters. The aircraft differed considerably from the American version, with Rolls-Royce Gnome engines, British-made anti-submarine warfare systems and a fully computerised flight control system. The Sea King was primarily designed for performing anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions. 

In British service, the Westland Sea King fulfilled wartime roles in the Falklands War, the Gulf War, the Balkans conflict, the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War as well as its long recognised Search and Rescue role.

With the need to replace the ageing fleet of Westland Wessex Helicopters aboard the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, Australia purchased 12 SeaKings in 1974 but its introduction into Australian service was plagued by faults resulting in the loss of four aircraft due to loss of oil in the main gearbox.

With the retirement of HMAS Melbourne, the RAN’s SeaKings proved to large to operate from the Australian Frigates and the fleet were moved ashore to be later used heavily in logistical roles such as the first delivery of humanitarian aid to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad and in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami which had devastated Indonesia’s Aceh province. The SeaKing was also used during the 2010–11 Queensland floods delivering aid relief to those trapped in flooded areas.

The Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm had initially intended a slow phase out of the SeaKing as the new and smaller SeaHawk helicopters came into service but the loss of a SeaKing during a humanitarian aid mission in Indonesia in April 2005, resulting in nine deaths saw those plans quickly change. Investigations uncovered serious faults in the condition of the Sea King’s mechanical flight control system, resulting from maintenance deficiencies and in May 2007, the six remaining Sea Kings were grounded for two months.

In 2011 the Australian Defence Minister announced the SeaKings would be withdrawn from service at the end of the year and the RAN’s 817 Squadron, based at Nowra NSW, was decommissioned shortly after.

All Seaking Helicopter Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.



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