Dave Calway worked in the blade shop at Westland and remembers when aluminium was used to make the blades

I was in an annexe to the blade shop and I had about a dozen people working for me. We were making what they called the stainless steel channels which went to build the spar but up in the main blade shop itself, I guess that’s changed a bit now, but in those days I suppose there could have been fifty or sixty blokes working in there, just bonding the stainless steel channels together and then bonding a tail blade on there, which was made from fibreglass. Yes, there were a lot of blokes doing that.

In the main blade shop they were also doing the Sea King at that time as well which was an aluminium spar, which was a casting, or an extrusion, and then the machine shop machined it to shape and size and then it was transported up to the blade shop in order for them to bond the trailing edge on it which meant they had little brackets inside to keep what, in those days, was the aluminium skin on them. Then they changed to fibreglass skins and then in 1985 they opened the composites which were going away from metals practically altogether. They used to use carbon fibre with resins, thermal resins and we went into bonding the spars and then we would make the trailing edge out of carbon fibre as well and they were bonded on to the spar as well. Of course, you still had the metal attachment plates to fit them on to the helicopter.

 

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