13-Oct-2014 Source: The Helicopter Museum
The Helicopter Museum is Weston-super-Mare, Somerset has taken delivery of a rare Gyrodyne GH-50D DASH (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter), developed in the 1960s and the first vertical take-off/landing unmanned air system (UAS) in the world to enter operational service.
Developed for operation from World War 2 class destroyers that lacked sufficient flight desk space for conventional helicopters, the GH-50D could carry two underslung torpedoes or depth charges but was also flown on surveillance and targeting missions. The QH-50D saw limited front line service during the Vietnam War when it was used for directing the guns of Navy warships shelling Vietcong positions from the Gulf of Tonkin. Subsequently QH-50Ds were used for aerial targets at the White Sands missile range in New Mexico before the last survivors were withdrawn from service and mostly scrapped.
The museum example was discovered in California in early 2013, but remained in the United States until recently pending US State Department clearance. Storage and crating was achieved with support from Robinson Helicopters, whilst State Department clearance and shipment was organised by AgustaWestland Philadelphia.
The helicopter is the only QH-50D to go on display in Europe and one of only two examples to exist outside the United States.
QH-50D Drone in California prior to delivery to the museum. Unmanned helicopters are in regular use these days for surveillance and other missions, both with the military and for civil operations – but the QH-50D DASH was the first!
QH-50D awaiting re-assembly in Museum conservation hangar in early October.