Friends of The Helicopter Museum

 Bell 47H-1, OO-SHW/ G-AZYB, History and Restoration

Bell 47H History

The Bell 47H-1 was the deluxe version of the Model 47G having an enclosed sound-proofed cabin with car-size leather seats and leather trim. The baggage of all travelling in the three-seater could be accommodated in a compartment in the monocoque tail boom. The Bell 47H was powered by a 200 hp Franklin 6V4-200-C32 six-cylinder piston engine but it was not a commercial success and only 33 were built.

Purchased by Sabena in 1956, OO-SHW was leased to the Belgian government and used by the Belgian Antarctic Expedition of 1957-1959, flying from the support ship 'Polarhav' and the King Baudoin Station. On display it appears with the 1956 Antarctic colour scheme and expedition emblems.
Subsequent owners were one in Sweden, one in Norway and three in the UK.

On 21st April 1984, as G-AZYB, it was badly damaged and written off after a heavy landing near Andover, in England, following an engine failure. Soon afterwards it was acquired by Elfan ap Rees and brought to The Helicopter Museum.
OO-SHW (far left) emerges from winter quarters, in Antarctica, in October 1958.
Registered as G-AZYB, the Bell 47H-1, acquired for The Museum in 1984, is seen (near left) outside a few years later. In the background are the old Western Airways hangars, which they occupied into the 1970s. Thanks to Jeremy Parkin for this photo.

Bell 47H Restoration

Restoration work began in 1990 and, around 1995, a skeletal G-AZYB was still at an early stage of its restoration in the Hafner Building (left). One of the main problems dealt with was the bent rear undercarriage cross-tube, resulting from the 1984 accident. This was eventually straightened successfully. 
The tail rotor hub of Bell 47H-1, OO-SHW, (left) showing blade pitch control linkages. Fred Fowke and Dave Tarrant manufactured a pair of tail rotor blades to replace the originals, which were destroyed in the 1984 accident. 
G-AZYB / LN-OQG / SE-HBE / OO-SHW, c/n 1538, took more than ten years to restore as OO-SHW and was completed (right) in December 2001 by Fred Fowke and Dave Tarrant. It is now on static display, at the Museum, in 1956 expedition colour scheme and markings. The restoration was awarded the Vintage Aircraft Club's Desmond Penrose Vintage Aeroplane of the Year Trophy in 2001.
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