Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King Ship-based Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Helicopter
The hugely-successful Sikorsky S-61 platform has been adapted to a wide variety of roles including ASW, SAR, VIP transport and AEW forms globally.
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At its peak, the Sikorsky SH-3 series of navy helicopter was a widely-used and successful platform undertaking a variety of over-water roles including Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Search And Rescue (SAR) operations. Development stemmed from a 1957 United States Navy (USN) requirement calling for a flyable prototype by 1959. A first-flight was had on March 11th, 1959 and service entry followed in 1961. Production spanned 1959 to the 1970s.
By this time in the Cold War, the Soviet Navy had put a heavy investment on its submarine force and, in response, the USN was forced to modernize its surface fleet to deal with the underwater threat. This also included strengthening its air arm for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role and components like the Sea King were developed for just that.
The resulting Sikorsky design became a medium-class twin-engined amphibious system with the appropriate support for ASW mission equipment and shipborne operational capabilities.
The prototype was designated XHSS-2 and was a one-off example. YHSS-2 represented the preproduction form and seven were built. HSS-2 was the original in-service designation of the Sea King until the 1962 U.S. military reorganization changed this to SH-3. Hence the original HSS-2 now became the SH-3A in service. Two-hundred forty-five of this mark were produced.
The combat SAR platform was known as the HH-3A and twelve were formed from the existing SH-3A stock. CH-3A was a general military transport mark serving the USAF. Three were converted from SH-3A models and later became designated as CH-3B.
Various other designs were delivered or trialed. NH-3A (S-61F) was a compound helicopter development for high-speed tests. RH-3A was a dedicated minesweeper. VH-3A was a VIP transport of the Army and USMC. SH-3D became a ASW form and seventy-three were produced. VH-3D was its VIP form. SH-3G dealt with cargo loads and 105 were converted from the SH-3A and SH-3D stock. SH-3H was an upgraded ASW model while another offshoot became an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) form.
Canadian versions were known under the CH-124 designation and undertook their own roles under similar designations (A, B, C, etc...). The British Westland Sea King was the SH-3 built under license in the United Kingdom. Augusta of Italy also locally-produced the series under license as did Mitsubishi of Japan. Global operators ranged from Argentina and Brazil to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela - such was the popularity and effectiveness of the design.
As build, the helicopter relied on a crew of four including two pilots and a pair of ASW systems operators. There was further space for three additional personnel. Empty weight was 11,865lb against an MTOW of 22,050lb. Power was from 2 x General Electric T58-GE-10 series turboshaft engines developing 1,400 horsepower each and driving a five-bladed main rotor and five-bladed tail rotor (set to portside). The tricycle undercarriage was wheeled and retractable at the two main legs.