Bristol 192

A tandem rotor helicopter which served in the conflict in Borneo and Aden.
Bristol 192 Belvedere XG451 Bristol 192 Belvedere XG451 showing original tailplane configuration

The Bristol Type 191 Helicopter was a proposed development of the Bristol Type 173 and was designated for naval operations.


The Type 173 was a very slender, 13-seater tandom rotor transport helicopter of the very early 1950's. In April 1956, three prototypes 191's were ordered with the Leonides Major power unit for both the British and Canadian Navy's. Although the prototypes featured the Leonides, the proposed production aircraft were scheduled to be powered by the Napier Gazelle turboshaft engine. Unfortunately, the contract was later cancelled with the all three Type 191 prototypes being used as development rigs for the subsequent Type 192 programme.


26 Type 192 Belvedere HC.Mk.1 were ordered for RAF transport use, the prototype (XG447) flying for the first time on 5th July 1958.  It utilised wooden propellers and an upward opening main passenger and cockpit door which were subsequently replaced with all-metal propellers for controllability and sliding doors as the old doors would often close inadvertantly due to the huge downwash.


Initially, flying was conducted with an anhedral tailplane fitted with tip fins although this was later replaced by a double anhedral tailplane in the production Belvedere HC Mk 1.


Bristol 192 Belvedere XG452 Bristol 192 Belvedere XG452 with production standard tailplane
Despite its design origins being in naval use, a number were later adapted to carry 18 troops and Bristol attempted to develop a civil variant (designated Type 192C) with seats for 24 passengers.  Despite Chief Test Pilot Charles 'Sox' Hosegood setting a helicopter speed record between London - Paris in May 1961, the 192Ce failed to secure any orders.


The type entered service with 66 Sqn RAF in 1961, also serving with 26 Sqn and 72 Sqn.  These squadrons were based in Singapore, Aden and the UK, respectively and the type also served operationally and with considerable distinction in both Borneo and Aden.


In June 1960, the fifth prototype set a new speed record of 130 mph between Gatwick and Tripoli and it was a Belvedere that 'dropped' the 80 ft tall spire onto the new cathedral at Coventry in 1962.


Bristol 192 Belvedere XG464 Bristol 192 Belvedere XG464 serving with the RAF in Singapore


In the casualty evacuation role, the Belvedere could carry upto 12 stretchers, two sitting casualties and a medical attendant.


The type had a relatively low fatigue life of around just 1,600 flying hours which resulted in the it being withdrawn from service by March 1969 after just 8 years.


Specification (Belvedere HC Mk.1)

Powerplant Two 1,650 hp Napier Gazelle 100 (N.Ga.2)
Rotor diameter Twin four blade 48 ft 11 in
Max Weight 19,000 lb
Capacity  Three crew and eighteen troops (or equivalent freight / slung load – 6,000 lb)
Cruise Speed 115 mph
Max Speed                      138 mph
Range 460 miles


Bristol Belvedere HC.Mk.1
Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon                                    
Bristol Belvedere HC.Mk.1
The Helicopter Museum Weston super Mare

Bristol Belvedere HC.Mk.1
Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

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