Military Factory logo
Icon of a dollar sign
Icon of military officer saluting
Icon of F-15 Eagle military combat fighter aircraft
Icon of Abrams Main Battle Tank
Icon of AK-47 assault rifle
Icon of navy warships

Westland Dragonfly (WS-51)

Light Utility Helicopter

Westland Dragonfly (WS-51)

Light Utility Helicopter

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



Fewer than 135 of the Westland WS-51 Dragonfly series helicopter were produced for the British military and others during the early-1950s.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1950
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Westland Aircraft - UK
PRODUCTION: 133
OPERATORS: Belgium; Czech Republic; Egypt; Hong Kong; Italy; Netherlands; Thailand; United Kingdom; Yugoslavia
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Westland Dragonfly model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 1
LENGTH: 57.58 feet (17.55 meters)
WIDTH: 48.06 feet (14.65 meters)
HEIGHT: 12.96 feet (3.95 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 4,409 pounds (2,000 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 5,875 pounds (2,665 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Alvis Leonides 50 series radial piston engine developing 540 horsepower and driving a three-bladed main rotor and three-bladed tail rotor.
SPEED (MAX): 96 miles-per-hour (155 kilometers-per-hour; 84 knots)
RANGE: 301 miles (485 kilometers; 262 nautical miles)
CEILING: 12,402 feet (3,780 meters; 2.35 miles)




ARMAMENT



None.
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• WS-51 "Dragonfly" - Base Series Designation
• Dragonfly HR.Mk 1 - SAR variant; Alvis 50 radial engine of 540 horsepower; 13 examples built.
• Dragonfly HC.Mk 2 - MEDEVAC variant for RAF; 2 examples completed.
• Dragonfly HR.Mk 3 - SAR variant for RN; all-metal blades; 71 examples completed.
• Dragonfly HC.Mk 4 - MEDEVAC variant for RAF; all-metal blades; 12 examples completed.
• Dragonfly HR.Mk 5 - SAR variant for RN; built from HR.Mk 1 and HR.Mk 3 stock.
• WS-51 Mk 1A - Civilian market form with Alvis Leonides 521/1 radial engine of 520 horsepower; 36 completed.
• WS-51 Mk 1B - Civilian market form with Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior B4 radial engine of 450 horsepower.; 15 examples completed.


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Westland Dragonfly (WS-51) Light Utility Helicopter.  Entry last updated on 8/24/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
For a period in its history, Westland Aircraft of the United Kingdom produced, under license, the Sikorsky "S-51" helicopter product as the WS-51 "Dragonfly". This light utility-minded platform was operated in the Search & Rescue (SAR) and communications roles for its time in service and 133 of the type were produced by Westland from the period spanning 1949 to 1954. A first-flight of a prototype was had on October 5th, 1948 and service introduction occurred in 1950.

Rather than develop a helicopter system from scratch, Westland managed to secure a production agreement with Sikorsky for the S-51 in December of 1946. The aircraft retained all of the form and function of the original including its rather utilitarian appearance, three-bladed main rotor and three-bladed tail rotor. The wheeled tricycle undercarriage was fixed in place and the forward section of the fuselage contained a series of window panels for excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit. The helicopter was essentially a no-frills product that could be handed different over-battlefield roles.

Beyond the WS-51 prototype - the sole example completed - were several major variants: The HR.Mk 1 was the standard SAR platform of which thirteen were built for the British Royal Navy (RN) and these were powered by 1 x Alvis 50 radial piston engine 540 horsepower. The HC.Mk1 served the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in the casualty evacuation role - only two were procured. The HR.Mk 3 was used by the RN in the air-search and SAR roles and finished with all-metal rotor blades. Some seventy-one were built. The HC.Mk 4 was another casualty evacuation helicopter developed to serve the RAF and these were given the same all-metal rotor blades with production reaching twelve units in all. The HR.Mk 5 was another air-search / SAR platform and used by the RN. These were built up from existing HR.Mk 1 and HR.Mk 3 models.

Two civilian transport forms also emerged in time, these being the WS-51 Mk 1A and WS-51 Mk 1B. The former carried an Alvis "Leonides" 521/1 series radial engine of 520 horsepower and the latter was finished with a Pratt & Whitney R-985 "Wasp Junior" B4 radial engine of 450 horsepower. Production totaled 36 and 15, respectively.

Once in circulation, the series gave good service and was eventually taken on by the militaries of Egypt, Hong Kong, Italy, Thailand and Yugoslavia as well. Commercial/civilian market operations were seen with helicopter through Belgium and the United Kingdom.

The Dragonfly was directly succeeded in British Royal Navy service by the Westland "Whirlwind" helicopter - another locally-produced licensed product from Sikorksy (the S-55/H-19 "Chickasaw").




MEDIA









Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (96mph).

    Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Westland Dragonfly's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
133
133

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.