Caterham and the Royal Air Force create one-off tribute to the esteemed Puma HC2 helicopter

Caterham_RAFBenson_3
Caterham_RAFBenson_3

Caterham and the RAF have unveiled a special one-off car built using exterior and interior components from a Puma HC2 helicopter, paying tribute to the remarkable aircraft.

The Caterham Seven 360R has been created to raise money for injured servicemen and women and will be on display for the first time at this weekend’s Formula 1 British Grand Prix.

To be auctioned off through Collecting Cars, it’s hoped the joint project between the Royal Air Force, Caterham, Mission Motorsport and Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund will raise more than £100,000.

This project between Caterham and the RAF is in support of the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) division, allowing those part of the program external opportunities to grow their skills.

Operated by Joint Aviation Command (JAC) at RAF Benson, XW232 entered service in 1972 and operated around the world. Upon reaching the end of its service life recently, teams at Benson and Caterham decided to create a tribute to the Puma and its servicemen and women.

Based on a Seven 360R, the external finish remains as it was when taken from the aircraft, while the remaining panels have been painted in matching ‘NATO Green’. The chassis also mirrors the aircraft beneath the surface, finished in ‘Desert Sand’.

Aluminium skin from the aircraft’s tail boom and doors have been used as panels for the Seven’s exterior as well as the internal rear bulkhead, where the door jettison handle remains in place.

Details from the Puma are carried through to the interior. The aircraft’s quilted soundproofing lines the door panels, tunnel top, and forms padding for the carbon fibre seats. The helicopter’s evacuation instructions have been preserved, stitched into the lining.

A unique satin black dashboard features to match the Puma’s military grade switchgear, replacing the regular dash switches. The 360R also features a helicopter-style three-stage ignition sequence for added theatre to start-up, while the aircraft’s navigation clock forms the centrepiece of the dash.

Underneath the bonnet, the ammunition box now contains the car’s battery.

Assembly of the car was a joint effort between Caterham and serving personnel from RAF Benson. The names of all those involved in this project are featured on the bonnet.

Puma HC2 medium support helicopters are used for a variety of combat roles including tactical movement of troops and weapons, as well as the extraction of casualties on the frontline. They are also employed for humanitarian and disaster relief operations.

Corporal McCreadie said: “It has been an honour to be a part of the Caterham project. As an Aircraft Technician (mechanical), I volunteered my time to remove the decommissioned materials from the Puma for the Caterham RAF Seven 360. To see the transformation of the materials has been fascinating.

“Through the course of the project I had the opportunity to refine my skills and learn some new engineering techniques. I am proud to have been a part of the team that made this car and to promote Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics within the RAF.”

Bob Laishley, CEO of Caterham, said: “When the RAF approached us about this project we jumped at the chance to be involved. Firstly, because it was an interesting build process for us as it’s the first time in our history that a Seven has been made from recycled helicopter parts.

“It was a true team effort as well, with engineers from the RAF supporting us throughout the build. But, more importantly, it’s great to know that any proceeds from the auction will go to incredibly important causes.”

Squadron Leader Morley said: “Royal Air Force Benson Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) team will be attending multiple events throughout the summer, promoting STEM in both the military and industry. Along with support from RAF Engineering & Cyber Recruitment the team have an amazing opportunity to host and present this one-off Caterham car made with former RAF Puma components.

“The car has been assembled by RAF personnel with the help of Caterham and highlights the amazing skills of the engineering teams that both maintain the RAF Puma’s and that work in industry. It’s our opportunity to celebrate the history of the RAF Puma Force while showcasing the opportunities that are available within the RAF and wider STEM community.”

Bidding for the car opens 15 August and ends 12 September through Collecting Cars.

The car is scheduled to be displayed at several events throughout the Summer. For more information, visit caterhamcars.com.

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