This S-55 was aquired by the Thai Police Air Arm in 1954 and retired in 1966. Photo © Martin Clutterbuck 2009.

The Sikorsky S-55 helicopter from 1949 was one of the first commercially viable helicopters and was manufactured under licence in the UK by Westland, who named it the "Whirlwind". Fanciful memoranda from the British Department of Transport in the 1950s suggested that helicopters might one day render railways obsolete, and Percy's race with Harold may have been in part to rebuff this. The chopper got into many air forces around the world including the RAF and USAF, but this example was in the civil colours of the now-defunct British European Airways (BEA). It is an unmistakeable design, with the pilot's cabin on an upper deck with passenger space underneath in the solid, bulbous body and nose. The principal variation on Harold was the addition of floats to the wheels.

Harold the Helicopter


Correspondent Dave Moulton found this example on the US Coastguard webpages of an S-55 with floats - Hello there Harold!

U.S. Navy S-55

BELOW: TRLOTTTE co-editor Jim Gratton had the good fortune of having two "Harolds" on site in Ontario during a government aerial spray program back in 1985. The aircraft were fitted with aerial spray booms which offered added application advantages over conventional fixed-wing aircraft..

S-55 Northern Ontario 1985

S-55 Northern Ontario 1985

Harold appeared in "Percy the Small Engine" (1956).


Early editions of Percy the Small Engine included a songsheet tune for Percy's "race" with Harold - lyrics written by the Rev. Awdry and put to music by an E. Trundle. Later editions only included the lyrics. Below is the songsheet for the musically inclined, contributed to TRLOTTTE with thanks by visitor Callum Walker. Callum found it included in The Rev. W. Awdry's Railway Stories - Six Stories in One (7-12) Yellow Book (listed in our Library page).

Sheet music found in early editions of Percy the Small Engine

Secondhand model feature

Airfix, maker of mostly 1/72 scale polystyrene aircraft kits, once made one of the Westland Whirlwind. Add floats, red stripe and a face...
Airfix model of S-55

Collector's Corner
New new Ertl logo take-along model of Harold
Classic classic ertl logo model of Harold
Bachmann Bachmann logo model of Harold (42441)
New ERTL Take Along Harold
classic ERTL Harold
Bachmann Harold

Bulgy <----