Kyrle Probus Club
   of Ross-on-Wye


The Agusta A129 - 15th August 2013

The Agusta A129, known as the Mongoose (Mangusta) was the first dedicated attack helicopter built and developed by a Western European country and Kyrle Probus member John Harley played an important part in its developent’
John told members at the club’s recent meeting that he was involved in the design project for the engine for the A129, for six years. The engine was based on the Rolls Royce Gem turboshaft engine, originally built for the Lynx helicopter.
The A129 was built in Italy at the Agusta factory near Varesi, north of Milan and John recalled how he and his chief designer went out to Augusta with a cardboard mock-up of the engine and transmission as a flat pack in a suitcase.
John’s entertaining talk was illustrated with pictures of the A129 and of the prototype engines he helped design for it, as well as some impressive cartoons, drawn by John himself, of various stages of the development and the people involved. His talk also included a number of ‘diversions’ or ‘senso unico’ as John described them in Italian.
One such diversion included a photographic record of a trip John and his wife Gail took, after a working visit to the Agusta factory. Rolls Royce rented a small flat in Varesi for such visits and with his work completed, he and Gail drove by car down to Florence before travelling up country to the snow covered Alps.
The first prototype of the A129 made its maiden flight in September 1983 and a first day cover stamp was produced to mark the occasion, one of which John said he was proud to have. The Italian Army ordered 60 of the A129s and production of this fighting machine started in 1988.
The Agusta A129 is still in service today with the Italian Army and the Agusta company is now a joint venture with the UK’s Westland helicopters.

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