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VIETNAM DUST OFF TRANSMISSION

 USMC HELICOPTERS IN VIETNAM

 

 

 

 

UH-1 HUEY GUNSHIP

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Utility helicopter

Manufacturer: Bell Helicopter Textron
Power plant: Pratt and Whitney T400-CP-400
Power: Burst: 1290 shaft horsepower (transmission limited)
Continuous: 1134 shaft horsepower (transmission limited)
Length: 57.3 feet (17.46 meters)
Height: 14.9 feet (4.54 meters)
Rotor Diameter: 48 feet (14.62 meters)
Speed: 121 knots (139.15 miles per hour) at sea level
Ceiling: 14,200 feet (4331 meters)
(limited to 10,000 feet (3050 meters) by oxygen requirements)
Maximum takeoff weight: 10,500 pounds (4,767 kilograms)
Range: 172 nautical miles (197.8 miles)
Crew: Officer: 2
Enlisted: 2
Armament:
  • M-240 7.62mm machine gun or
  • GAU-16 .50 caliber machine gun or
  • GAU-17 7.62mm automatic gun
    All three weapons systems are crew-served, and the GAU-2B/A can also be controlled by the pilot in the fixed forward firing mode.
  • The helicopter can also carry two 7-shot or 19-shot 2.75" rocket pods.
In September 1962, the US military went to a new tri-service aircraft designation scheme, and the HU-1A became the "UH-1A", while the HU-1B became the "UH-1B". The UH-1B saw extensive service in Vietnam. It was initially fitted with the "M-6E3" armament system, which included two M-60 machine guns mounted on an outrigger outboard of each door, for a total of four, and the existing eight-round rocket packs. The machine guns could be aimed by the pilot using a cockpit-mounted sight and a hydraulic actuation system.

Transport versions of the UH-1 were known as "Slicks" because of their uncluttered appearance. They were generally armed with an M-60 machine guns on a flexible mount in each door to provide covering fire for troops.

The use of dedicated helicopter gunships to escort "Slicks" or "DustOffs" (as medevac Hueys were known) led to a demonstrable drop in combat damage. In fact, although some Army brass believed that helicopters were too fragile to engage in direct combat operations, Huey loss rates were found to be surprisingly acceptable.

The UH-1B gunship lacked the power necessary to carry weapons and ammunition and keep up with transport Hueys, and so Bell designed yet another Huey variant, the "UH-1C", intended strictly for the gunship role. It featured the T53-L-11 engine of late-production UH-1Bs, large fuel capacity, and a new "Model 540" rotor system, which eliminated Bell's distinctive "teetering bar" and replaced it with an electromechanical stabilization scheme. The Model 540 rotor system was known as the "door-hinge" rotor or the "Stability Control Augmentation Scheme (SCAS)". The new rotor also had a wider chord, and was both lighter and provided increased maneuverability.

The UH-1C was introduced in September 1965, but only about 750 were built, as by that time Bell was getting ready to introduce the optimized AH-1 "HueyCobra" gunship, which was based on UH-1C technology. The AH-1 "Cobra" provided greater speed and maneuverability and was a much more difficult target than the Huey gunships. Nonetheless, the Huey gunship would have its partisans, since its door gunners could lay down fire towards the rear of the helicopter and also provided extra sets of eyes. Huey gunships would in fact remain in service in Vietnam up to the end of the war, though that was mainly due to the fact that there weren't enough Cobras to replace them.

 UH-1B and UH-1C gunships were fitted with a series of improved armament systems:

 

  The "XM-3" replaced the 8-round rocket packs and quad machine guns of the M-6E3 with 24-round rocket packs and no guns.

The "XM-16" was similar to the original M-6E3, but used cylindrical XM-158 7-round rocket pods along with the quad machine guns.

The "M-5" fitted the gunship with a nose turret mounting an M-75 40 millimeter automatic grenade launcher, with a rate of fire of about 220 rounds per minute.

The "M-21" was a replacement for the XM-16. It retained the XM-158 7-round rocket pods, but each set of two M-60 machine guns on each side of the rotorcraft was replaced by a single GE M-134 Gatling-type six-barreled 7.62 millimeter "MiniGun" with a rate of fire of 2,000 rounds per minute.

A Huey gunship with an M-5 was called a "Frog"; one with the XM-3 was called a "Hog"; and one with both was called a "Heavy Hog". It appears that Huey gunships were known generally as "Cobras" or "Snakes" early in the war, but if so, such usage was dropped after the introduction of the AH-1, which became known by those terms instead.

There were of course many variations, such as fits that used the XM-159 19-round rocket pods in place of the XM-158 7-round pods, as well as improvised weapon mounts. Some Hueys were fitted with wooden chutes outside the doors to allow flight crew to drop mortar rounds on enemy positions, with aircrew simply yanking the bottom doors of the chutes open with wires to drop the loads. This "Mortar Aerial Delivery (MAD)" scheme was reportedly very effective in jungle fighting. Another scheme reportedly used was to drop a 208 liter (55 US gallon) drum full of gasoline and hooked up with a grenade as an informal incendiary.

Some UH-1Bs were also fitted with six French "SS-11" wire-guided anti-tank missile, adopted by the US as the "AGM-22B", but this was never a popular weapon. The SS-11 had to be guided by "eyeball", with the operator tracking the missile by a flare in its tail and adjusting its course with a joystick. The course corrections were transmitted to the missile by wires that it spooled out in flight. Such a scheme required a highly trained operator and a fairly benign combat environment to be accurate, and as the first was in short supply and the second was almost a contradiction, accuracy of the SS-11 was very poor.

In the spring of 1972, in the last days of the US involvement in Vietnam, a number of UH-1Bs were fitted with the new BGM-71 "TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided)" missile. TOW, as its name implies, is a wire-guided missile like the SS-11, but has a much "smarter" guidance system. The weapons operator simply keeps the sight on target and the guidance system figures out the course updates. 81 TOW missiles were fired at that time, scoring 57 hits. In contrast, 20 SS-11 missiles were fired but only scored three hits. The use of TOW in Vietnam paved the way for its widespread adoption as a helicopter store in the post-Vietnam period.

The last variant of the Model 204 bought by the Army was the "UH-1M", which was obtained both as new-built rotorcraft and as conversions from UH-1Cs. The UH-1M featured a T53-L-13 engine with 1,044 kW (1,400 SHP). It was fitted with the "Iroquois Night Fighter And Night Tracker (INFANT)" sensor system with a low-light-level TV and a searchlight, plus an M-21 gun system, with both the sensor and weapons systems built by Hughes.

The UH-1M went into service in Vietnam in 1969. Some sources claim that only a few were built for evaluation, but other sources state that several platoons were equipped with the type.

MODEL 204 USMC UH-1E

In March 1962, Bell won a Marine Corps contract to supply the service with an assault support helicopter, resulting in the "UH-1E". The Marines obtained 250 UH-1Es, which were similar to the UH-1B but fitted with an external rescue hoist; a rotor brake to keep the rotor in place during shipboard stowage; and an avionics fit to Marine specifications. First flight of the UH-1E was in February 1963. Deliveries began in February 1964. The Model 540 rotor system, used on the Army UH-1C, was introduced into UH-1E production in 1965. The Marines also obtained 20 "TH-1E" trainers.
 
   spec                             metric                     English
  

   rotor width >               13.41 meters           44 feet
   footprint length >         16.15 meters           53 feet
   fuselage length >         12.98 meters          42 feet 7 inches
   height >                      4.44 meters            14 feet 7 inches

   empty weight >            2,155 kilograms      4,750 pounds
   max loaded weight >    3,855 kilograms      8,500 pounds

   maximum speed >       220 KPH               140 MPH / 120 KT
   service ceiling >           5,090 meters         16,700 feet
   range >                       340 kilometers       210 MI / 185 NMI

 

AH-1 COBRA

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Contractor: Bell Helicopter TEXTRON, Inc. (Prime), General Electric, Kollsman Inc.
Power Plant:
  • Two General Electric T700-GE-401 Turboshaft engines
  • Each engine delivers 1,690 horsepower.
Accommodations:
  • Two seats, in tandem (pilot in rear, copilot/gunner in front)
Performance:
  • Climb rate: 1,925 feet per minute
  • Maximum altitude: 14,750 feet
  • Maximum attainable speed: 170 knots (195 mph)
  • Maximum cruising speed: 152 knots (173 mph)
Countermeasures:
  • AN/ALE-39 Chaff system and SUU-4/1 Flare dispensers
Armament:
  • One M197 three barrel 20 mm gun (mounted under the nose with 750 round ammo container)
  • Underwing attachments for four TOW missiles, eight Hellfire missiles, or one AIM-9L Sidewinder missile
  • Can also be equipped with Zuni rocket launchers
The Marines also operated armed Hueys in Vietnam, and ordered their own version of the Cobra in May 1968. Featuring the Pratt and Whitney Twinpac T400 engine (two 900-hp turbo shaft engines coupled together) giving an overall increase in installed power, the AH-1J Sea Cobra included a new nose turret gun, the three barrel XM-197 20mm and other improvements. While development and production of the first 49 ordered were under way, the Marines obtained 38 AH-1Gs from the Army. After initial training of Marines by the Army, Marine Huey Cobras first became operational in April 1969 with VMO-2 in Vietnam. In December 1969, the AH-1Gs were transferred to HML-367. After flight tests beginning that same month and subsequent BIS trials, the first AH-1Js joined them in February 1971, entering combat the following month. AH-1Js, including those of HMA-369, participated in SE Asia operations until final withdrawal and continued as the Marine's attack helicopter afterwards, a total of 67 being delivered. The Marine AH-1Gs became the reserve helicopter attack squadron's aircraft.

With increasing demands for higher performance, particularly greater load-carrying capability in high temperature conditions, Bell developed improved dynamic components for the Huey series. Application of these components, which included a larger diameter rotor, led to the 309 attack helo in the early Seventies. This allowed an increased payload, providing more combat capability. The subsequent Marine-ordered version of the King Cobra was designated the AH-1T. In addition to the modifications for improved combat effectiveness, major efforts were made to incorporate the lessons of the Cobra experience in achieving greater reliability and maintainability. With the TOW missile system added to its weapons, the AH-1T gave Marines a ground attack capability far beyond that first envisioned by their predecessors who took the first Marine Huey Cobras into combat in the late 1960s.


CH-46 SEA KNIGHT

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Service: Navy and Marine Corps

Description: Medium lift assault helicopter, primarily used to move cargo and troops.

Mission: The CH-46D Sea Knight helicopter is used by the Navy for shipboard delivery of cargo and personnel. The CH-46E is used by the Marine Corps to provide all-weather, day-or-night assault transport of combat troops, supplies and equipment. Troop assault is the primary function and the movement of supplies and equipment is secondary. Additional tasks may be assigned, such as combat support, search and rescue, support for forward refueling and rearming points, aeromedic evacuation of casualties from the field and recovery of aircraft and personnel.

Background: The CH-46 Sea Knight was first procured in 1964 to meet the medium-lift requirements of the Marine Corps in all combat and peacetime environments. The Navy Sea Knight fleet is scheduled to be replaced by September 2004 with the MH-60S Knighthawk.

General Characteristics

Primary Function: Medium lift assault helicopter
Contractor: Boeing Vertol Company
Power Plant: Two GE-T58-16 engines; 1,770 hp
Length: 45 feet, 8 inches (13.89 meters) with rotors folded
84 feet, 4 inches (25.7 meters) with rotors spread
Width: 51 feet (15.54 meters) with rotors spread
Height: 16 feet 8 inches (5.08 meters)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 24,300 pounds (11,032 kg)
Range: 132 nautical miles (151.8 miles) for land assault mission
Speed: 145 knots (166.75 miles per hour)
Ceiling: 10,000 feet plus

Crew: Four: pilot, copilot, crew chief, mechanic

Combat: max. of 22 troops and two aerial gunners
Medical evacuation: 15 litters, two attendants

Cargo: 5,000 pounds (2270 kg) maximum

 

CH-53 SEA STALLION

Description:
Manufacturer: Sikorsky
Designation: CH-53
Version: A
Nickname: Sea Stallion
Type: Helicopter (Cargo / Transport)
Specifications:
Length: 88' 2" 26.87 M
Height: 17' 1" 5.21 M
Wingspan: 72' 3" 22.02 M
Empty Weight: 22900.0 lbs 10385.0 Kg
Gross Weight: 42000.0 lbs 19047.0 Kg
Propulsion:
No. of Engines: 2
Powerplant: General Electric T64-GE-413
Horsepower (each): 3925
Performance:
Range: 257 miles 413.00 Km
Cruise Speed: 173.00 mph 278.00 Km/H 150.27 Kt
Max Speed: 196.00 Mph 315.00 Km/H 170.27 Kt
Ceiling: 21000.0 Ft 6400.50 M
FUSELAGE LENGTH: 67 feet, 6 inches.
OVERALL LENGTH: 88 feet, 6 inches.
WEIGHT: 24,606 pounds empty,
42,000 pounds maximum loaded weight
SPEED: 130 knots cruise
196 mph maximum
CEILING: 24,200 feet in horizontal flight;
13,400 feet hovering.
RANGE: 600 nautical miles.
 POWER PLANT: two General Electric T64-GE-413 turboshaft engines.
CREW: two pilots, one crewman.
CONTRACTOR: Sikorsky Aircraft.

Ordered in August l962 for service with the Marine Corps, the CH-53 "Sea Stallion" was the largest of all Sikorsky helicopters at the time of development with a huge load carrying capability in a fuselage comparable to conventional fixed-wing designs. Equipped with rear loading doors and controlled winches at the forward end of the hold, the CH-53 could successfully transport either a one and a half ton truck and trailer, a Hawk missile system, an Honest John missile and trailer, or a 105 mm howitzer. In a troop carrying configuration, it could accommodate thirty-eight fully equipped troops or twenty-four stretchers (later versions could carry up to fifty-five troops). The "Sea Stallion" was also fitted with a watertight lower section for emergency water landings and all but the first thirty-four models were fitted with hard points for towed minesweeping equipment. Later versions had folding main and tail rotors for shipboard operations. The first of 265 production models was first flown on 4 October l964.

September l966, variants of the "Sea Stallion" were ordered by the Air Force for search and rescue operations in Viet Nam and became known as the "Super Jolly Green Giants". The first deployment of the CH-53 with the Marines occurred in January l967. Thereafter, Navy and Marine Corps pilots/crews flew CH-53s for the remainder of the Viet Nam Conflict on transport and logistic missions. A noteworthy occasion in the history of minesweeping operations occurred on 27 February l973 when CH-53s began airborne sweeping for live mines in North Viet Nam harbors and shipping channels. This was later duplicated in efforts to locate mines and explosive devices in the Suez Canal as part of the overall operations to open that vital waterway for safe passage of ships.

The CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter transports supplies, equipment, and personnel from ship to shore during amphibious assault operations. The aircraft was designed and developed specifically for the Marine Corps by Sikorsky. Loading and unloading, and roll-on and roll-off of some vehicles, is speeded up through the use of a rear ramp. External loads can be carried in slings or nets: It can mount two .50-caliber machine guns. The CH-53 used extensively by the Marines during the Vietnam War can transport 37 Marines or handle 24 litter patients and four attendants. Capable of lifting 8,000 pounds internally or externally under normal conditions, it can lift an additional 4,000 pounds in certain situations. The Corps operates three active squadrons of 12 aircraft each and two Reserve squadrons with a total of 16 aircraft. The Sea Stallion will continue to see service until sufficient numbers of V-22s are procured to permit its retirement.

 

 

UH-34 D  DOG

Marines UH-34D

 The H-34 started as a private Sikorsky Aircraft development, which the military ignored. However, it soon became a true workhorse in service with all branches of the U.S. armed forces, in addition to a host of foreign nations, and a variety of civil operators. The H-34 was also the final evolution of large piston-engine helicopters before the rise of turbine powered designs.

 Designated by Sikorsky as the S-58, the H-34 took form as an improvement on the company's revolutionary S-55. That model appeared in the late 1940s, as other manufacturers began to break Sikorsky's hold on large military helicopter contracts with designs such as the tandem-rotor Piasecki HUP-1. Early Sikorsky designs placed the large reciprocating engine behind the cabin. This had the effect of restricting the center-of-gravity of the helicopter to a very narrow range. Igor Sikorsky and his design team discovered that if they moved the engine to the front of the cabin, closer to the axis of the main rotor, the center-of-gravity envelope became much larger. This configuration required the relocation of the cockpit to a position on top of the engine. Sikorsky engineers inclined the engine at a 45-degree angle so that the drive shaft would not run through the main cabin, though this created a partition between the cockpit and main cabin. However, the addition of clamshell doors to the nose of the aircraft made maintenance access to the engine far simpler than it had ever been before.

 Shortly after the S-58's introduction in 1954, Sikorsky entered it into the U. S. Army and Air Force competition for a new utility helicopter and the U. S. Navy competition for a new Anti-Submarine helicopter. The S-58 lost both competitions. The Army and Air Force selected the Piasecki tandem-rotor H-21; the Navy selected the Bell HSL-1; and the U. S. Marine Corps, which did not hold a competition, selected the mammoth twin-engine Sikorsky S-56.

 Subsequently, the HSL-1 proved unsuitable for the shipboard anti-submarine role, the S-56 suffered from development problems, and the Air Force absorbed almost the entire H-21 production run. Accordingly, the Marines, the Army and the Navy turned to the S-58 as the only readily available alternative. It proved to be an excellent choice for all three services. Ultimately, even the Air Force used ex-Navy H-34s as Search and Rescue (SAR) aircraft.

 Initially the Navy designated the aircraft the HSS-1 Seabat (Helicopter, anti-Submarine, Sikorsky), while the Marines referred to it as the HUS- 1 (Seahorse Helicopter, Utility, Sikorsky), and the Army adopted it as the H-34 Choctaw. In 1962, all the designations changed to a Department of Defense standard and the aircraft became the UH-34. Sikorsky built 1,825 S-58s and UH-34s including the A, C, G, and J models, but the D became the most common. Sud-Est of France built another 135 S-58s under license and Westland of the United Kingdom built nearly 400 of a highly successful turbine-powered variant known as the Wessex.

 A nine-cylinder air-cooled Wright R-1820-84 reciprocating engine powered the single-rotor H-34. The massive engine required an elaborate blower system to keep it cool. Shafts and gearboxes situated along the spine of the fuselage and a substantial tail pylon drove the tail rotor. The fuselage was all metal, principally magnesium alloy, for weight savings.

 The Navy Seabat relied on sonar dipping gear and an autopilot that permitted low-altitude hover at night or in poor visibility, to perform its anti-submarine mission. The low altitude and airspeed required for this type of operation made successful autorotations unlikely in case of engine failure, and mandated a particularly trusting and courageous aircrew to fly these high-risk missions. The aircraft operated as the mainstay of the Navy Anti-Submarine helicopter force from 1954 until 1962 when the SH-3 Sea King came into service. In addition to the Anti-Submarine role, the H-34 served in the Navy as the UH-34J for VIP transport and SAR duties. The U. S. Coast Guard also acquired six H-34s for the SAR role.

 The U. S. Army employed the H-34 principally for general utility purposes, as well as VIP transport flights, and SAR missions. One of the most challenging missions flown by Army H-34s was the evacuation of the Congo in 1964, but Army H-34s did not participate in Vietnam, and did not fly in the assault helicopter role.

 Beginning in 1956, the H-34 saw its introduction into combat during intensive operations with the French in Algeria. In 1955, the U. S. Marine Corps received its first HUS-1s as an interim type, ostensibly until the HR2S (later H-37) entered squadron service. However, the HUS lasted far longer in USMC service, and in much greater numbers, than the HR2S ever did. Ultimately the Marine Corps took delivery of 515 UH-34Ds. From the late 1950s until the CH-46 entered service in 1965, the UH-34 operated as the mainstay of Marine Corps helicopter units.

 On April 15, 1962, Lt. Col. Archie Clapp's Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 362 (HMM-362), know as Archie's Angels, deployed to Soc Trang in the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam as part of Operation SHUFLY. This was the Marine Corp's effort to support the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) troops in actions against the Viet Cong. HMM 162,163, 261, 361, 364, and 365 joined the operation later. During late 1962, the SHUFLY H-34s traded places with an Army squadron and moved to Da Nang because the H-34 was more capable in the mountainous terrain of northern South Vietnam than the Piasecki H-21.

 Pilots of H-34s flying in Vietnam discovered in the combat zone that some of the design's innovative features carried penalties. The high cockpit made it an obvious target, and the drive shaft created a partition that made it difficult for crew chiefs to come to the aid of the cockpit crew if they became injured. The H-34's magnesium skin resulted in very intense fires, and contributed to significant corrosion problems. The airframe was also too weak to support most of the weapon systems that allowed the UH-1 to become an effective ad-hoc gunship. Nonetheless, the H-34 demonstrated an ability to sustain a substantial amount of combat damage and still return home.

 Early in 1965, Operation SHUFLY ended as U. S. Marine and Army units landed in Vietnam, following the Tonkin Gulf resolution, and took the lead in the war against the Viet Cong. In March 1966, the more capable turbine-powered CH-46A began to replace the UH-34s. However, in August 1967, several fatal crashes caused by tail pylon failures resulted in the grounding of the CH-46As, and the somewhat haggard but reliable H-34 remained in service until engineers resolved the CH-46 structural problems. In August 1969, the last Marine UH-34D in Vietnam was retired from HMM-362 at Hue Phu Bai. It had served the Marine Corps in Vietnam for seven years. During that period, enemy action and operational accidents downed 134 of the venerable helicopters. To this day, whether they were pilots, crew chiefs, gunners or maintenance troops, the Marines who operated H-34s (which they affectionately labeled the "Dog") all fervently believe that "When you're out of H-34s, you're out of helicopters."

 An example of the actions experienced by H-34 crews occurred on 27 and 28 April 1964 with the helicopters of HMM-364, commanded by Lt. Col. John Lavoy. The squadron received orders to insert a regiment of ARVN troops into a Landing Zone (LZ) that they believed to be unoccupied. Upon arrival at the LZ, the aircraft became the target of an ambush, which presumably occurred because of leaked information. A South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) A-1 Skyraider (see NASM collection) attempted to dive-bomb one of the many gun positions but was shot down. Later, courageous Army pilots, flying armed UH-1 Hueys (see NASM collection) suppressed some of the fire, but .50 caliber guns and hundreds of smaller weapons continued to pour fire into the landing zone. Despite the intense fire, Lt. Col. Lavoy led his helicopters into the zone, disembarked the ARVN troops, and departed. Every Marine H-34 suffered from damage inflicted from the ground fire, which resulted in the loss of one aircraft. An H-34 specifically tasked to rescue downed crews immediately picked up the crew.

 During the course of the day, HMM-364 entered the zone four times, suffering further damage on each flight. On the fourth assault, ground fire claimed a Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) helicopter. Once more, the rescue H-34 came to their aid. At the end of the day, every helicopter that participated in the operation displayed battle damage. Miraculously, not a single HMM-364 crewmember suffered an injury. For this action, every Helicopter Aircraft Commander (HAC), including Lt. Col. Lavoy, received the Distinguished Flying Cross. The pilot of the rescue helicopter, John Braddon, also received the Silver Star for the action. This operation was the first action in Vietnam that included multiple lifts of troops into a heavily defended LZ and foreshadowed the hundreds of similar operations that followed.

 In the late 1950s, Air America, a CIA-created airline, began flying UH-34Ds in Laos, manned by crews on leave from the Marine Corps. When the last military UH-34 left Vietnam, Air America was still in operation with the type, including upgraded S-58Ts powered by the powerful turbine PT6T-6 "TwinPac."

 Military H-34s also provided sterling service outside the war zone. Beginning late in 1957, and continuing through the early 1960s, millions of people around the world witnessed H-34s transporting the President of the United States. This was the first regular use of helicopters in that role. Army and Marine Corps H-34s replaced the UH-13Js (see NASM collection), which had pioneered Presidential helicopter transport. Another starring role of the H-34 was the recovery of the Mercury astronauts and their capsules.

 Ultimately the S-58/UH-34 was flown by all branches of the U. S. military and also by the armed forces of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Haiti, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Katanga, Laos, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, Soviet Union, Thailand, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vietnam. In addition to its military service, the H-34 still performs a number of civilian duties including air taxi and fire fighting. The S-58T remains one of the most popular helicopters in the aerial crane role because of its large lifting capacity and relatively low operating costs compared to those of other aerial crane platforms. The abundance of ex-military H-34s, retired in favor of higher-performance turbine models, allowed many operators to acquire a powerful helicopter quite easily.

 That an aircraft, initially rejected by all the armed services, should ultimately serve for so long and in such numbers is remarkable. Even more commendable is the genuine affection with which the aircrews who flew it in combat recall their service. Every year thousands of Marines who flew the H-34 in Vietnam still meet at venues all around the country to recall their experiences in a magnificent flying machine and one that meant so much to them.

 In 1974, the Marine Corps transferred a UH-34D, Bureau No. 148768, to the National Air and Space Museum as a representative medium-sized assault helicopter. This helicopter entered Marine service on March 31, 1961, and served in units at New River, North Carolina; Jacksonville; Santa Ana and El Toro, California; and New Orleans. On November 25, 1970, it was retired and placed in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, having accumulated 3,416 flying hours. Following the transfer of the helicopter to the Museum, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and Marine personnel of HMX-1 restored it at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. During the restoration, the aircraft was repainted in 1965 Marine markings, with model number YP-13, to represent a significant aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163. This combat unit operated in the Da Nang area of Vietnam and became one of the most decorated Marine helicopter squadrons of that war.

 Copyright 1998-2000 National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution (revised 12/4/01 J. Bradon)