Tight fit

The Brits love CH-47s (“wocca-wocca” in Tommie parlance) for expeditionary operations, and it is well-remembered that a single aircraft proved decisive in the Falklands in 1982.

With their new supercarrier HMS Queen Elizabeth lacking her F-35B air wing for a while, they can at least try fitting some of the huge Chinooks aboard– and they did!

From the RN Navy News:

For the first time ever a giant RAF Chinook helicopter has been stowed in the hangar of a British aircraft carrier.

With the nose protruding over the edge of one of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s two mighty aircraft lifts, the 99ft-long helicopter from RAF 7 Squadron was moved from the flight to the hangar deck.

So large are the lifts and hangar spaces on the new Portsmouth-based warship that there’s no need even to fold the rotors.

There ZH902 – a special trials variant of the Chinook – was joined by a second wocca-wocca, and two Merlins, all from the Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre (ATEC) at MOD Boscombe Down, and a couple of Merlin Mk2s from 820 Naval Air Squadron.

All six helicopters are onboard Queen Elizabeth for trials, finding out what the operating parameters are of the airframes flying from the carrier at sea.

They were transferred to the hangar in advance of rough weather as the 65,000-tonne warship – the largest vessel ever built for the Royal Navy – made her way towards Gibraltar, keeping the helicopters out of harm’s way of the elements.

The painstaking process to bring the Chinooks in for the very first time took almost two hours, with the nosecone hanging precariously over the aircraft lift (powerful enough to raise or lower two F-35B Lightning II jets or half the 700-strong ship’s company). With practice it will take a fraction of that time.

“Even though HMS Queen Elizabeth is the biggest ship the Royal Navy has operated, she still moves around in the seas especially with the swell and winds in the infamous Bay of Biscay,” explained Cdr David Scopes, head of the carrier’s air engineering department.

HMS Queen Elizabeth passes the iconic Rock of Gibraltar as she makes her debut at the Rock. Note the CH-47s

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