History of the Huey
UH-1 A HIGHLY DEVELOPED FAMILY
Widely used to transport troops and equipment during the Vietnam War, as well as limited support and attack missions. The different versions of the UH-l demonstrated their suitability to meet the requirements that a truly lightweight multi-purpose helicopter must be capable of. Although many of them were lost in combat, their mission capabilities, ease of maintenance, reduced purchase price and multi-purpose operational and capability characteristics have had a bearing on the fact that they can still be found in service in a variety of armies around the world where it is seen as the ideal solution to carry out the most varied of missions.
The requirements of the United States Army was to have a multi-purpose helicopter which could serve to evacuate the injured from the front line, an experience greatly felt during the Korean War with the transportation from mobile MASH units to hospitals. This led the BELL Company to come up with a proposal, known as MODEL 204 which ended up as the army's choice during the course of 1955.
After the first flight of the XH-40, which took place on the 22nd of October in 1956, a rapid period of trials began which led to the order to construct half a dozen YH-40's with the objective of an even greater and ambitious programme of appraisal.
The following nine UH-l helicopters incorporated changes to the original design such as a jet engine with 860 horsepower and canvas seats to transport six people.
The first nine pre-production "HU-1 helicopters "HU" Stood for " Helicopter, Utility" And the "HU-1 designation quickly led to the nickname that would be famous: "Huey"
Popularly known as HUEY, a name which the manufacturer engraved on
the craft's command controls, the supply of the first UH-1 A's began on the
30th of June 1959, and were completed in March 1961. Later they received the
nicknames, SLICK for the troop carrier, HOG for the gunship version and
IROQUOIS for the multi-purpose H model.
A total of 4,869 helicopters were lost by US forces in Vietnam. The US Army's Hueys took the biggest part of these losses, a total of 2,591. Interestingly, only 1,211 Hueys were lost in combat, while 1,380 were lost in operational accidents. Statistics showed that helicopters were by no means inherently vulnerable, with a loss rate of less than one in 8,000 sorties. The high losses reflected their heavy use and not their fragility, with the heavy use leading to crew fatigue that contributed to the high accident rate.
Huey production reflected the course of the war in Vietnam, going from 20 per month in 1963, to 160 per month in 1967, and then back to 10 per month in 1973. Vietnam has been judged the "first helicopter war", and certainly the Huey remains a symbol of the conflict far more than any other weapon, from images of Hueys dropping troops into landing zones, to pictures of Hueys thrown off aircraft carriers during the frantic final evacuation.
The UH- 1 B version began being delivered in 1961 and included a more powerful engine of 960 horsepower and greater load and personnel capacity. From this point many others followed, more optimized and with improved features such as the 767 examples of the C model which had a greater fuel capacity, wider blades and a tail rotor with an inverted profile. The 2,201 machines of the D model which were propelled by a 1100 horsepower jet engine and with a capacity to take 12 soldiers, 360 units of which were constructed under license by the German company Dornier.
The E model with modifications to allow it to operate from the amphibious assault craft; the F model supplied with a 1,272 horsepower engine and used by the United States Airforce to support the siting of the Minuteman and Titan ballistic missile silos of the Strategic Air Command. The F model with 5,345 machines manufactured for the United States Army, with the LYCOMING T53-L- 13 engine of 1,400 horsepower and elongated fuselage to facilitate the movement of greater loads and personnel.
A great diffusion
This last version is the most popular one which has survived up to the present day with many modifications to the instrument panels, to allow the use of night goggles, for example, and with the installment of new equipment such as radio altimeters, radar emission detectors and supplementary arm or for the pilot seats. The D and H series have been given the reference of BELL 205.
The various models have been identified by a base letter preceding the designation. As such, the letter T is assigned for missions of engagement, E for electronic war fare, H for rescue, R for reconnaissance etc. Twin engine versions have also been manufactured such as the UH- 1 N and AB-212, depending on whether the construction was carried out in the United States or in Italy, and whether it is four-bladed or not as in the BELL412.
Manufactured in various configurations in factories in the United States, Italy, Germany, Japan, Indonesia and Canada, the different versions of the ubiquitous UH-l have exceeded 10,000 units, amongst which are 100 BN models (Blade November) requested by the United States Marine Corps from Bell Helicopter Texetron, and to be ready by the end of the year 2003.
In service with the armed forces of more than seventy countries, amongst those are: The United States, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Bahrain, Brunei, The Czech Republic, Ecuador, Slovenia, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, The Netherlands, Honduras, Israel, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela. In Spain there are some seventy examples of the H and 212 versions, carrying out active service in the army and navy and they make up the main element of the Helicopter Battalion (BHELMA) and the Third Air Squadron respectively.
The design philosophy
The BELL 204/205 family of helicopters are designed with a broad cross-section hull, constructed in light alloy and with the exception of the 412, incorporate a semi rigid rotor consisting of two articulated blades which determine the plane of rotation by means of a stabilizer.
An innovative helicopter
Huey was the first helicopter of the series which used a jet engine, a LYCO MING T53, installed above the fuselage and close to the main rotor unit, just behind the gearbox unit. This allowed a larger cargo hold and ability to transport more. The design maintained in its different versions the use of the most powerful and reliable twin motors for flying with the least risk over areas like the sea.
The pilot and co-pilot are together in the cockpit and have access to the interior through side doors, enjoying good visibility to the outside world thanks to large glass windows. The passenger or transport area is accessed by the large sliding doors on the side of the craft. This area is where the flight mechanic works and carries out auxiliary tasks. The design is notable for its tail beam inclined upwards with rectangular stabilizers in the central part and a small rotor at the end. It has two skids which make it possible to land in any kind of terrain.
The normal capacity of the H model makes it possible to transport a dozen fully-equipped soldiers in reconfigurable canvas seats, or depending on need, there could be stretchers or two tons cargo in the hold. Using a sling system it can also carry light vehicles or medium caliber artillery pieces which are hung from a hook inside the helicopter.
This helicopter was extensively used in the Vietnam War from 1963 onwards and there are many photographs and images which were widely seen in war films being shown around the world. These images are an accurate representation of the huge variety of missions performed by this air craft. These covered activities such as medical air evacuations: the transportation and collection of troops at different enemy infiltration positions; air patrols of river routes; reconnaissance work; the support of artillery fire and assaults; intelligence work; psychological warfare; giving support fire for ground troops; the combined use of medium, heavy and multi-barrelled machine guns; rocket and grenade launching etc.
Subsequently and in addition to various peace-keeping missions with the UN, models of this helicopter have carried out operations extensively in conflicts such as the Arab-Israeli War, the invasion of Grenada, the peacekeeping operation in Iraqi Kurdistan, the former Yugoslavia, and in operation Desert Storm. During which marine helicopters were used to designate targets at night, thanks to systems such as Nite Eagle which has an infra-red tracker and laser direction signaler.
The UH-1's weapons can be used with great versatility, such as machine guns used with the cargo hold's access doors open, like the modern MK-2 Marte anti-ship missiles which are carried by the Italian Griffon helicopters, a design version which has evolved from the Bell 412. Basically the different versions of these helicopters can have a variety of weapons fitted in the cargo area as well as externally on the aircraft's fuselage. These are options which depend on the type of missions envisioned for them, but in each case the control of the weapons can be carried out by the operators sitting at the front of the cockpit.
The mounts fitted to the inside of the helicopter are straightforward constructions allowing the operation of both the SACO M-60 medium machine gun and the Browning M-2HB heavy machine gun. There are also automatic 40 mm grenade-launching systems and multiple machine gun assemblies such as the MINIGUN, which has a rate of fire of 6000 rounds per minute.