XZ321 | Westland Gazelle AH.1 | Gary

  • Aircraft type: Westland SA.341B Gazelle AH.1
  • Construction number: 1614
  • Military serial: XZ321
  • Civilian registration: G-CDNS
  • Name: Gary

Gary, military serial XZ321, served with the Army Air Corps for 28 years, initially serving with 2 Flight, 6 Flight and then 658 Squadron. It then served with distinction in the Falklands War (Operation CORPORATE) with 656 Squadron.

Gary 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 Squadron 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 squadron'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 June, in high winds and almost continuous rain the Gazelles flew off to Clam Valley.

The Gazelles moved to Goose Green on 5 June, and on 7 June they helped with the evacuation of casualties from RFA Sir Galahad and RFA Sir Tristram. The whole squadron moved to Fitzroy on 9 June, together with 5 Infantry Brigade's headquarters. By 10 June all 656 squadron Gazelles were fitted with 68mm rockets and test firing was conducted in Choiseul Sound. On 13 June, 2nd Batallion Scots Guards attacked Mount Tumbledown with 656 Squadron in support flying casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) sorties.14 June saw the squadron engaged in continuous calls for CASEVAC flights, urgent replenishment missions and liaison work in support of The Second Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) who had moved off Wireless Ridge and were advancing on Stanley.

As British Forces entered Stanley, 656 Squadron flew into Port Stanley racecourse where several Argentinian Huey helicopters were found in flying condition, one was immediately pressed into service in support of 5 Infantry Brigade.

Gary remained in the Falklands until December 1983, he then returned to the UK for storage and next saw service in Northern Ireland in 1989 and remained there for most of the rest of his service life.

He has been restored in the desert colours of 4 Regiment who supported the Desert Rats amongst other brigades in the first Gulf War.

XZ347 of 4 Regiment, in the scheme Gary represents, via Phil Globe.

XZ321 rolled out of the hangar at Bourne Park.