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XZ321 (Gary)

XZ321 served with the Army Air Corps for 28 years. Initially it served with 2 Flt AAC, 6 Flt AAC and 658 Sqn AAC.  It then served with distinction in The Falklands War (Op CORPORATE) with 656 Sqn AAC. It had just finished a Phase II Modification Programme at RNAS Fleetlands and was lodging with the Advanced Rotary Wing Training Squadron at Middle Wallop when 656 Sqn was giving orders to deploy as part of 5 Infantry Brigade. After training with the Brigade on Sennybridge training area, the main body of the Squadron flew direct to Southampton on 8 May 1982 and the Sqn’s Gazelles including XZ321 were loaded on the Nordic Ferry, the ship sailed the next day. Nordic Ferry anchored off San Carlos settlement on 3 Jun, in high winds and almost continuous rain the Gazelles flew off to Clam Valley. The Gazelle Flight moved to Goose Green on 5 Jun and on 7 Jun they helped with the evacuation of casualties from Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram. The whole Squadron moved to Fitzroy on 9 Jun together with 5 Inf Bde HQ. On 10 Jun all 656 Sqn were eventually fitted with 68mm rockets and test firing was conducted in Choiseul Sound. On 13 Jun 2nd Bn Scots Guards attacked Mount Tumbledown with 656 Sqn in support flying CASEVAC sorties.14 Jun saw the Squadron engaged in continuous calls for CASEVAC flights, urgent replenishment missions and liaison work in support of 2 PARA who had moved off Wireless Ridge and were advancing on Stanley. As British Forces entered Stanley, 656 Sqn flew into Port Stanley racecourse where several Argentinian Hueys were found in flying condition and one was immediately pressed into service in support of 5 Inf Bde. XZ 321 remained in the Falklands until Dec 1983.  It then returned to the UK to storage and next saw service in Northern Ireland in 1989 and remained there for most of the rest of its service life.  It has been restored in the desert colours of 4 Regt AAC who supported the Desert Rats amongst other Brigades in the First Gulf War.   

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ZB627 (Ginger)

ZB627 was procured as an RAF training aircraft. It served primarily at RAF Shawbury, the RAF’s rotary training establishment in Shropshire. It also served with 7 Sqn RAF based at Odiham in Hampshire and was used for night vision reconnaissance sorties. Not a lot more is known about Ginger sadly there are few service records left.

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XX436 (Gordon)

XX436 spent most of its 26 year service as a training aircraft with the Royal Navy and 705 Sqn at RNAS Culdrose. In 1978 the aircraft flew as part of The Tri-Service Helicopter Team in the British Helicopter Championships. Throughout its service life the aircraft flew as 39/CU. It spent its last 5 years’ service in storage at RAF Shawbury. Gordon is painted in RM colours for this season until Gladys replaces him on the display line.

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ZB647 (Gavin)

ZB647 spent all of its 32 year service with the Royal Navy and for the majority of this time it was a training aircraft with 705 Sqn at RNAS Culdrose hence the CU on the tail. In 1994 the aircraft represented the UK at the World Helicopter Championships in Moscow. The aircraft was used by FONA (Flag Officer Naval Aviation) in 1995-97.

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XW849 (Gladys)

XW849 is the oldest aircraft in the Team; she was nearly 40 when she was broken for spares in January 2010. She was saved from the scrapheap by The Gazelle Military Helicopter Trust. She is being restored by Falcon Aviation with help from BLESMA sponsored veterans and other volunteers. She served with 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron and 847 Naval Air Squadron for the greater part of her life and is a veteran of the Second Gulf War. She will carry the same grey/green paint scheme that was used on Op TELIC. Gladys as she is affectionately known is the Team’s spare aircraft, the equivalent of Red 10 but more like’ Gazelle 5’ but she will have all her TELIC bells and whistles fitted.

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ZA730 (Grant)

ZA730 served with A Flight, 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron (A Flt, 3 BAS) for most of its 23 year service and is a veteran of The Falklands War. She was coded ‘(C)F’ by the Squadron, ‘C’ for Gazelles and ‘F’ as its unique A Flt identifier. Following the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands on 2 Apr 1982, the British Government sent a Task Force south to recapture the Islands, an operation which came to be called Op CORPORATE. ZA730 was flown aboard LSL Sir Geraint at Devonport on 5 Apr 1982 and sailed the next day. She was flown off to Ascension Island on 20 Apr where she was modified for the fitment of pylon mounted 68mm SNEB rockets. The LSLs set sail on 29 Apr and rendezvoused with the rest of the HMS Fearless Task Group on 16 May on the edge of the TEZ. A Flt transferred to Sir Tristram on 20 May in preparation for Operation SUTTON, the British landings on the shores of San Carlos Water, at Ajax Bay and Port San Carlos. Just prior to dawn on 21 May the entire Squadron sailed into Falkland Sound, two A Flt Gazelles immediately took off to support an SBS attack on Fanning Head, it is not yet known if ZA730 was one of these two aircraft? On 22 May A Flt joined 40 Cdo at the base of the Verde mountains in San Carlos Water. A Flt moved up to Estancia House on 7 Jun and spent the next few days aiding the build-up of supplies to the forward units (42 Cdo, 45 Cdo and 3 PARA). Those units subsequently took their respective objectives Mount Harriet, Two Sisters and Mount Longdon by 12 Jun with A Flt in support involved in CASEVAC and resupply duties. Following the surrender on 15 Jun, A Flt moved to the Stanley Racecourse on 16 Jun. At the end of the war ZA730 was transferred to 656 Sqn AAC and delivered from Stanley to Fitzroy. She flew a total of 152.9 hours during the war.  She was subsequently transferred to the Garrison Army Air Sqn and was used by 658, 651 and 654 Sqns flying one thousand hours in the next year. She was eventually shipped back to the UK arriving at Middle Wallop in 16 Dec 1983 and was then sent by road to Wroughton for storage on 10 Jan 1984. She spent the next six years in storage before being sent to Northern Ireland in 1991 through to 1996 for the last years of her service life.

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