Bell UH-1 Huey Helicopter
The Bell UH-1 Huey Helicopter was the workhorse during the US involvement in Southeast Asia and Vietnam. Because of that conflict, the Bell UH-1 Huey has become one of the world’s most famous and recognized helicopters. One other trait that is unique to the Huey is the unmistakable sound she makes.
No other aircraft on this planet sounds quite like a Bell UH-1 Iroquois. It sounds like thunder from above as she passes overhead. This sound was welcomed by US troops and feared by the Vietcong. The Vietnam War would also be known as the “Helicopter War” because this would be the first time in the history of warfare that the helicopter would be used in such a wide variety of roles.
Battle Stations: Huey Helicopter – Air Armada (War History Documentary)
UH-1 Huey’s tasked with armed escort or ground attack were fitted with grenade launchers, rocket launchers and machine guns. In early 1962, UH-1 Huey’s were modified by local companies assigned to them who made their own mounting systems. During the Vietnam War, the UH-1 was used for a variety of purposes and various terms were given for these tasks. Gunship UH-1 Huey’s were commonly referred to as “Cobras” or simply “Guns” if they had guns and “Hogs” or “Frogs” if they carried rockets.
Huey’s also flew “Hunter-Killer” teams with observation helicopters. These were the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (Loach) and the Bell OH-58A Kiowa. Towards the end of the Vietnam War, the UH-1 Huey was tested with TOW missiles and two UH-1B helicopters were equipped with the XM26 Armament Subsystem which were deployed to help counter the 1972 Easter Invasion by the Vietcong. James P. Fleming, a USAF Lieutenant piloted a UH-1F Huey on a November 26, 1968 mission that would earn him the Medal of Honor.
The HU-1A Iroquois (later re-designated UH-1A Iroquois) first entered service with the 57th Medical Detachment, the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Even though the UH-1A Iroquois was intended for evaluation only, the US Army immediately entered the brand new helicopter into operational service. The first Hueys arrived in Vietnam in March 1962 with the 57th Medical Detachment.
Bell UH-1 Iroquois
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois nicknamed the (“Huey”) is a utility US military helicopter with two-blade main and tail rotors and is powered by a single turboshaft engine. Bell Helicopter was the manufacturer and built 16,000 Huey’s from 1956 thru 1987. Her first flight (XH-40) was on October 20, 1956 and she entered service with the United States Army in 1959. The Bell UH-1 Huey is still in service today!
She still flies for all branches of the US Military and currently in service for 10 other militaries around the world. These militaries are Argentine Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, El Salvador Air Force, German military (Bundeswehr), Israeli Air Force, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Lebanese Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Philippine Air Force and the Rhodesian Air Force.
All aircraft in the UH-1 family are similarly constructed. The UH-1H (Huey) is the most-produced version and is the most representative of all types. Its main structure consist of two lengthways main beams that run directly under the passenger cabin to the nose and to the tail boom attachment point. These main beams are separated by transverse bulkheads but do provide the supporting structure for the landing gear, engine, transmission, tail boom, under-floor fuel tanks and the cabin.
Both main beams are joined at the lift beam with a short aluminum girder structure that is attached to the transmission with a lift link on the top and the cargo hook on the bottom which is located at the aircraft’s center of gravity. These lift beams were eventually changed to steel later on during the UH-1H’s service life. This was due to cracking on high-time airframes where the semi-monocoque tail boom attaches to the fuselage with four bolts. These cracks created a weak point that could lead to catastrophic failure.
The UH-1H’s most dynamic components are the main rotor blades, engine, rotor mast, transmission, tail rotor driveshaft plus the 90-degree and 42-degree gearboxes. The UH-1H’s transmission is of a planetary design which does reduce the engine’s output to approximately 324 rpm at the main rotor. This is a two-bladed semi-rigid rotor design with pre-coned and underslung blades which was an early development of Bell model designs such as the Bell 47 for example.
UH-1 Huey Vietnam
The UH-1 Huey Vietnam connection will be forever etched in stone in the history books. You can’t talk about the Vietnam War without the Bell UH-1 Huey entering in the conversation. It was this war that made the UH-1 Huey famous or was it the other way around? This war would be unlike any other in history where the battle lines were blurred or none at all.
Vietnam was jungle warfare at its worst for both machine and men. It would not be technology that would decide this conflict alone. You had gorilla tactics on one side with a war of annihilation strategy on the other. This was a brutal war where there seemed to be no clear rules of engagement with politicians calling the shots. However, this did not diminish the role the legendary Huey would play and would forever change the ways wars would be fought forever.
Before the Vietnam War, helicopters played a marginal role in past conflicts only transporting wounded back to field hospitals. Helicopters did not serve in World War II because the war ended before they could enter service. Another conflict would come along a few short years later in Korea where the helicopter would make its combat debut. The helicopter proved to be a capable aircraft and saved a lot of lives during the war.
The Helicopter drastically expanded its role in Vietnam from transporting wounded to field hospitals to seek and destroy missions and everything in between. Fixed wing aircraft are great and can perform a variety of roles but the helicopter can do things those amazing aircraft can’t. For example, Huey’s were used for extracting downed pilots in the jungle along with picking up soldiers during firefights. Its ability to hover and take small arms fire is unprecedented.
There were approximately 11,835 U.S helicopters that served during the Vietnam War with U.S records showing that 5,607 helicopter were shot down. Bell UH-1 Hueys were used for just about everything from ferrying soldiers to the battlefield to ferrying the wounded out of hot zones. She was used for search and destroy missions as well as search and rescue too! The UH-1 Huey was definitely the backbone of the Vietnam War which will forever be known as the “Helicopter War”.
Bell UH-1 Helicopter Cockpit
You are looking at the Bell UH-1 Helicopter Cockpit where the plot and co-pilot are seated. As you can see that the pilot has an extraordinary field of vision in all directions because of the windowed cockpit design. However, the windowed cockpit design was vulnerable to small arms fire making it dangerous for pilots. After all, UH-1 Huey’s were in the thick of it all during the war. These birds and their brave pilots saved lots of lives!
Entering the cockpit of a Huey is sort of like getting in your car to get to work in the morning. There are two hinged doors on both sides of the aircraft that open and close similar to your car doors. The cabin which is directly behind the cockpit featured a large sliding windowed door on either side of the fuselage. This provided easy access for soldiers (in most Vietnam-era pictures, these doors are almost always with a machine gunner).
Here’s a great view of the Huey’s large cabin space, the Huey was specifically designed to carry as many occupants as possible. 14 combat-ready troops could comfortably fit inside a Huey up to 6 medical litters while in the Medevac role. A typical UH-1 Huey crew could have 1 to 4 personnel as needed and it depended on what the mission was as well. There were some missions that only required a skeleton crew or sometimes just the pilot.
As you can see in the photo above, the UH-1 Huey’s airframe was a highly adaptable platform throughout its service during the Vietnam War. This was particularly clear when a Huey’s were used as gunships during search and destroy missions. Standard armaments for the UH-1 Huey included pintle-mounted M60 7.62mm machine guns or sometimes they would use specialized external mountings for the dual 7.62mm miniguns.
Restored Vietnam UH-1H Bell Huey First Flights HD – MUST SEE Video!
The maximum seating arrangement for a UH-1 Huey consists of a four-man bench seat facing rearwards behind the 2 pilot seats. Facing a five-man bench seat in front of the transmission structure with two additional two-man bench seats facing outwards from the transmission structure on both sides of the helicopter. All passenger seats are constructed out of aluminum tube frames. Canvas material is used for the seats that can be quickly removed and reconfigured.
The Huey’s large cabin can be configured to accommodate up to six stretchers including an internal rescue hoist with auxiliary fuel tanks, spotlights and many, many other mission kits. Getting access to the cabin is easy via two aft-sliding doors and two small forward-hinged panels. Theses doors and hinged panels were often removed during flight or they could pin the doors open as well. As mentioned earlier, pilot access was through the hinged doors.
The Bell UH-1 Huey was equipped with five main fuel tanks that are self-sealing. However, the UH-1H Huey was not equipped with factory armor making her vulnerable to small arms fire. Armored pilot seats were available for the UH-1 Huey. The UH-1H Huey’s dual control system is conventional for a helicopter and consist of a single hydraulic system boosting the cyclic stick collective lever and the anti-torque pedals as well.
The Uh-1 Huey’s collective levers do have integral throttles even though these are not used to control rotor rpm which is automatically governed. I can get into a whole lot more technical detail but I’m sure I’ll bore you. This is just the tip of the iceberg! However, there’s a better way to learn more about the Huey, WAY BETTER! How would you like to fly a real-life Bell UH-1 Huey Helicopter? You are moments away from a helicopter simulation experience like no other online!
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