In January 1951 around 180 helicopter landing and takeoff trials were conducted on RFA Fort Duquesne with Dragonflies from 705 Naval Air Squadron at Portland.
On passage from Portland to Gibraltar she conucted further trials with HMS Savage.
Hi George, I`m surprised at the date of these trials of helicopters landing on RFAs as the RN did`nt start to us helicopters aboard ships until the late 50s early 60s,wonder why the RFA was used as the guinea pigs for this?
The quote comes from "The RFA - A Century of Service" by Adams & Smith (2005).
Also mentioned in "Postwar Chronology of RN Events" by Lt Cmdr Geoffrey B Mason.
The RN did deck landing trials with a Sikorsky s-51 on HMS Vengeance (R71) in 1949 but she was a carrier.
The Book also says Forts Beauharnois, Charlotte and Duquesne were fitted with helo landing pads " in the 1950's"
As far as I can make out, the first embarked flight in an HM ship was by a Wasp in 1964. I don't know what happened to helicopters from 1951 to 1964. Perhaps they were all doing trials with the RFA. (always a forward looking Service).
I believe the first ship other than an aircraft carrier, to embark a permanent flight of helicopters was HMS PROTECTOR.
In 1954 in Devonport Dockyard, she was converted from her net-layer configuration to having flight deck and hangar for 2 helicopters.
She sailed on the 3rd October 1955 carrying her flight of 2 Westland Whirlwind helos on the first of her trips to Falklands and the Antarctic.
After some thought I would say the Protector was the first to carry a helicopter on board,did`nt she loss one during a flight down in the Antartic or was that one from the "Red Plum" when she took over survey work in that area.
I recall hearing somewhere that one did (to use an American military term...) make an "uncontrolled landing". I cant remember when or the details, but when one considers that she was down there every year for 13 years and the conditions that those two choppers had to fly in, the air maintenance department in Protector must have broken records for aircraft servicability, when one considers how far away they were from replacement parts and base tech support, to have lost only one over those years is a miracle.