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The Helicopter Museum at Weston-super-Mare in Somerset has put on display an early turboshaft engine, whose design dates from the 1950's.  The engine, a Napier Gazelle, is one of several held by the museum, and has recently been restored for static display by volunteers at the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust at Patchway, Bristol.

Kathryn Tucker, the Helicopter Museum Collections Officer said “We are really impressed by the standard of work carried out by the Rolls-Royce Trust volunteers. The engine now looks like new and is an interesting addition to our displays.”

The first British-designed turboshaft engine to enter service, the 1600shp Gazelle was installed from the late 1950's in the Bristol Belvedere, built at Weston-super-Mare, and the early Westland Wessex helicopters, but was rapidly succeeded by lighter and smaller engines developed to provide similar power. One of these, the Rolls-Royce Gnome replaced the Gazelle in the Wessex, being small enough for two to be installed side by side in the same area as the previous power plant.

Nevertheless the Gazelle remained in service with the Belvedere until 1969 and with the Wessex Mk.3 until the mid 1980's.

The Rolls-Royce trust is now restoring at least two more Gazelles for the museum, which plans to install them in due course in the prototype Belvedere held in the collection.


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