A Bell XH-40, a prototype of the UH-1In 1952, the Army identified a requirement for a new helicopter to serve as medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), instrument trainer and general utility aircraft. The Army determined that current helicopters were too large, underpowered, or were too complex to maintain easily. In November 1953, revised military requirements were submitted to the Department of the Army. Twenty companies submitted designs in their bid for the contract, including Bell Helicopter with the Model 204 and Kaman Aircraft with a turbine-powered version of the H-43. On 23 February 1955, the Army announced its decision, selecting Bell to build three copies of the Model 204 for evaluation, designated as the XH-40.
Marine CorpsIn 1962, the United States Marines Corps held a competition to choose an assault support helicopter to replace the Cessna O-1 fixed-wing aircraft and the Kaman OH-43D helicopter. The winner was the UH-1B, which was already in service with the Army. The helicopter was designated the UH-1E and modified to meet Marine requirements. The major changes included the use of all-aluminum construction for corrosion resistance, radios compatible with Marine Corps ground frequencies, a rotor brake for shipboard use to stop the rotor quickly on shutdown and a roof-mounted rescue hoist.
The UH-1E was first flown on 7 October 1963, and deliveries commenced 21 February 1964, with 192 aircraft completed. Due to production line realities at Bell, the UH-1E was produced in two different versions, both with the same UH-1E designation. The first 34 built were essentially UH-1B airframes with the Lycoming T53-L-11 engine producing 1,100 shp (820 kW). When Bell switched production to the UH-1C, the UH-1E production benefited from the same changes. The Marine Corps later upgraded UH-1E engines to the Lycoming T53-L-13, which produced 1,400 shp (1,000 kW), after the Army introduced the UH-1M and upgraded their UH-1C helicopters to the same engine.
Air ForceThe United States Air Force’s (USAF) competition for a helicopter to be used for support on missile bases included a specific requirement to mandate the use of the General Electric T58 turboshaft as a powerplant. The Air Force had a large inventory of these engines on hand for its fleet of HH-3 Jolly Green Giant rescue helicopters and using the same engine for both helicopters would save costs. In response, Bell proposed an upgraded version of the 204B with the T58 engine. Because the T58 output shaft is at the rear, and was thus mounted in front of the transmission on the HH-3, it had to have a separate offset gearbox (SDG or speed decreaser gearbox) at the rear, and shafting to couple to the UH-1 transmission.
On 7 June 1963, the Air Force named Bell Helicopter as the winner. Originally designated the H-48, it was later designated as the UH-1F. A TH-1F trainer was also built for the USAF, with the first TH-1F flown in January 1967, followed by delivery of 27 aircraft from April to July of that year. In Italy, Agusta produced a model similar to the UH-1F by re-engining the 204B with the 1,225 shp (914 kW) Rolls-Royce Gnome turboshaft and later the UH-1F’s General Electric engine. The Italian version was exported to the military of the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland.
The Bell UH-1B Iroquois is a military helicopter powered by a single, turboshaft engine, with a two-bladed main rotor and tail rotor. The helicopter was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet the United States Army’s requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter in 1952, and first flew on 20 October 1956. Ordered into production in March 1960, the UH-1B was the first turbine-powered helicopter to enter production for the United States military, and more than 16,000 have been produced worldwide.
The first combat operation of the UH-1B was in the service of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The original designation of HU-1 led to the helicopter’s nickname of Huey. In September 1962, the designation was changed to UH-1B, but Huey remained in common use. Approximately 7,000 UH-1 aircraft saw service in Vietnam.
|3,880 lb including 14 troops, or 6 stretchers, or equivalent cargo
|57 ft 1 in (17.40 m) with rotors
|8 ft 7 in (2.62 m) (Fuselage)
|14 ft 5 in (4.39 m)
|5,215 lb (2,365 kg)
|9,040 lb (4,100 kg)
|Max takeoff weight:
|9,500 lb (4,309 kg)
|1 × Lycoming T53-L-11 turboshaft, 1,100 shp (820 kW)
|Main rotor diameter:
|48 ft 0 in (14.63 m)
|135 mph (217 km/h; 117 kn)
|125 mph (109 kn; 201 km/h)
|315 mi (274 nmi; 507 km)
|19,390 ft (5,910 m) (Dependent on environmental factors such as weight, outside temp., etc)
|Rate of climb:
|1,755 ft/min (8.92 m/s)
|Power / mass:
|0.15 hp/lb (0.25 kW/kg)
Variable, but may include a combination of:
2× 7.62 mm M60 machine gun, or 2x 7.62 mm GAU-17/A machine gun
2× 7-round or 19-round 2.75 in (70 mm) rocket pods
2× 7.62 mm Rheinmetall MG3 (German Army and German Luftwaffe)
2× .303 Browning Mk II (Rhodesian, twin machine guns mounted on port side)
UH-1Ds airlift members of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment from the Filhol Rubber Plantation area to a staging area, in 1966The HU-1A (later redesignated UH-1A) first entered service with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the 82nd Airborne Division, and the 57th Medical Detachment. Although intended for evaluation only, the Army quickly pressed the new helicopter into operational service and Hueys with the 57th Medical Detachment arrived in Vietnam in March 1962.
The UH-1 has long been a symbol of US involvement in Southeast Asia in general and Vietnam in particular, and as a result of that conflict, has become one of the world’s most recognized helicopters. In Vietnam primary missions included general support, air assault, cargo transport, aeromedical evacuation, search and rescue, electronic warfare, and later, ground attack. During the conflict, the craft was upgraded, notably to a larger version based on the Model 205. This version was initially designated the UH-1D and flew operationally from 1963.
A rifle squad from the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry exiting from a UH-1DDuring service in the Vietnam War, the UH-1 was used for various purposes and various terms for each task abounded. UH-1s tasked with a ground attack or armed escort role were outfitted with rocket launchers, grenade launchers, and machine guns. As early as 1962, UH-1s were modified locally by the companies themselves, who fabricated their own mounting systems. These gunship UH-1s were commonly referred to as Frogs or Hogs if they carried rockets, and Cobras or simply Guns if they had guns. UH-1s tasked and configured for troop transport were often called Slicks due to an absence of weapons pods. Slicks did have door gunners, but were generally employed in the troop transport and medevac roles.
UH-1s also flew hunter-killer teams with observation helicopters, namely the Bell OH-58A Kiowa and the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (Loach).Towards the end of the conflict, the UH-1 was tested with TOW missiles, and two UH-1B helicopters equipped with the XM26 Armament Subsystem were deployed to help counter the 1972 Easter Invasion. USAF Lieutenant James P. Fleming piloted a UH-1F on a 26 November 1968 mission that earned him the Medal of Honor.
USS Garrett County (LST-786) at anchor in the Mekong Delta, South Vietnam. On deck are two Navy Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three (HAL-3) “Seawolf” UH-1B Huey gunships from the squadrons Det Four or Det Six assigned to the ship.UH-1 troop transports were designated by Blue teams, hence the nickname for troops carried in by these Hueys as the Blues. The reconnaissance or observation teams were White teams. The attack ships were called Red teams. Over the duration of the conflict the tactics used by the military evolved and teams were mixed for more effective results. Purple teams with one or two Blue slicks dropping off the troops, while a Red attack team provided protection until the troops could defend themselves. Another highly effective team was the Pink Recon/Attack team, which offered the capability of carrying out assaults upon areas where the enemy was known to be present but could not be pinpointed.
During the course of the war, the UH-1 went through several upgrades. The UH-1A, B, and C models (short fuselage, Bell 204) and the UH-1D and H models (stretched-fuselage, Bell 205) each had improved performance and load-carrying capabilities. The UH-1B and C performed the gunship, and some of the transport, duties in the early years of the Vietnam War. UH-1B/C gunships were replaced by the new AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter from 1967 to late 1968. The increasing intensity and sophistication of NVA anti-aircraft defenses made continued use of UH-1 gunships impractical, and after Vietnam the Cobra was adopted as the Army’s main attack helicopter. Devotees of the UH-1 in the gunship role cite its ability to act as an impromptu dustoff if the need arose, as well as the superior observational capabilities of the larger Huey cockpit, which allowed return fire from door gunners to the rear and sides of the aircraft.
During the war 7,013 UH-1s served in Vietnam and of these 3,305 were destroyed. In total 1,074 Huey pilots were killed, along with 1,103 other crew members.
The US Army phased out the UH-1 with the introduction of the UH-60 Black Hawk, although the Army UH-1 Residual Fleet had around 700 UH-1s that were to be retained until 2015, primarily in support of Army Aviation training at Fort Rucker and in selected Army National Guard units. Army support for the craft was intended to end in 2004. In 2009, Army National Guard retirements of the UH-1 accelerated with the introduction of the UH-72 Lakota.
US Air Force
VNAF UH-1H lands during a combat mission in Southeast Asia in 1970In October 1965, the USAF 20th Helicopter Squadron was formed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam, equipped initially with CH-3C helicopters. By June 1967 the UH-1F and UH-1P were also added to the unit’s inventory, and by the end of the year the entire unit had shifted from Tan Son Nhut to Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, with the CH-3s transferring to the 21st Helicopter Squadron. On 1 August 1968, the unit was redesignated the 20th Special Operations Squadron. The 20th SOS’s UH-1s were known as the Green Hornets, stemming from their color, a primarily green two-tone camouflage (green and tan) was carried, and radio call-sign “hornet”. The main role of these helicopters were to insert and extract reconnaissance teams, provide cover for such operations, conduct psychological warfare, and other support roles for covert operations especially in Laos and Cambodia during the so-called Secret War.
The US Navy began acquiring UH-1B helicopters from the Army and these aircraft were modified into gunships with special gun mounts and radar altimeters and were known as Seawolves in service with Navy Helicopter Attack (Light) (HA(L)-3). UH-1C helicopters were also acquired in the 1970s.The Seawolves worked as a team with Navy river patrol operations.