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Bell UH-1 Iroquois (Huey) Multi-Role / Utility / Attack / Transport Helicopter (1959)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 2/26/2014

The UH-1 Huey became the symbol of American involvement in the Vietnam War.

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The UH-1 Iroquois "Huey" became an important part of American military actions beginning in 1960 and expanding throughout the latter part of the Cold War years. The ubiquitous system became synonymous with the American effort in Vietnam, no doubt due to her inherent capabilities to take on just about any needed role. Despite her consistent association with that war, her legacy has rightfully developed into so much more thanks to her use throughout the modern world in both military and civilian roles encompassing search and rescue, assault, transport and humanitarian efforts. Despite her official "Iroquois" name, the nickname of "Huey" stuck thanks to her early "HU-1" designation (later redesignated to UH-1 in 1962. Hence the Iroquois name was - and is - seldom used to this day when referencing the UH-1 series of helicopters.

The Huey developed from advances made in turbine technology throughout the 1950's. Bell produced the turbine-powered Model 47 (XH-13F) in 1954 to which the United States Army took special interest in. The need for a MedEvac helicopter was on the US Army wish list and, as such, Bell was tagged with developing a solution - and the prototype XH-40 (Bell Model 204) was born. First flight of XH-40 occurred on October 22nd, 1956 and were followed by two additional XH-40 prototypes, fitting the Lycoming 700 horsepower XT-53-L-1 engine. A further six developmental models were then ordered as YH-40 evaluation aircraft. These were essentially the same as the XH-40 prototypes but had their cabin space extended a full 12-inches. One of these YH-40's was set aside as a test bed featuring turbofan engines and wing assemblies becoming Bell Model 533. The Model 204 entered production for the US Army as the HU-1A, becoming the first turbine-powered helicopter in service with any US military branch. First deliveries would fall to the 101st Airborne Division, the 57th Medical Detachment and the 82nd Airborne Division. The 57th Medical Detachment would be the first to field the system in Vietnam beginning in March 1962.

By all respects, design of the Huey was quite utilitarian although more pleasing to the eye that other rotary-wing offerings developed during the 1950s. Aircraft construction was comprised of the main fuselage housing the cockpit and passenger cabin (along with their associated systems and equipment), the engine and rotor mast section and the empennage, or tail section containing the tail rotor. The pilot and co-pilot were seated at the extreme forward of the design with a windowed cockpit providing excellent vision forward, above, to the sides and forward-below. Entry for either cockpit seating position was made through an automobile-style hinged door. The cabin featured a large sliding windowed door on either side of the fuselage for easy access (in most Vietnam-era pictures, these doors are almost always lest open). The single engine was mounted atop the rear portion of the crew cabin root with the rotor mast extending upwards forward of the engine. The rotor blades on initial models were simple two-blade arrangements with a rotor mast for added stability (the latest Huey version sports a four-blade rotor system). The engine exhausted rearwards over the base of the empennage. The tail section itself made up nearly half the length of the entire fuselage and featured horizontal fins about half-way down the tail section. The section ended with a single vertical fin adorned with the two-blade tail rotor system mounted to the portside (the latest Huey sports a four-blade tail rotor). The undercarriage consisted of a pair of fixed landing skids - braced in two areas - allowing for landing and take-off from just about any type of surface making it useful to both land and sea-based operators. Throughout its production run - with the exception of the twin-engine Huey - the base UH-1 Huey series would retain this unique and very identifiable design.

With its transport origins and inherently large cabin space, the Huey was designed from the outset to serve occupants in quantity. Passenger space was equivalent to 14 combat-ready troops. This arrangement could be supplanted by up to 6 medical litters when in the MedEvac role. The base crew could comprise 1 to 4 personnel as needed and depending on the role and equipment utilized.

The UH-1 airframe proved highly adaptable throughout its tenure, particularly when a showcase piece in the Vietnam War as helicopter gunships. Standard armaments included the use of pintle-mounted M60 7.62mm machine guns or specialized external mountings for dual 7.62mm miniguns mounts, 2-, 7-, or 19-shot 2.75" rocket pods and 7.62mm machine guns in quad-mountings. In the Vietnam War, US Army Hueys were dubbed "Cobras" when fitted with machine gun armament and "Hogs" when sporting rocket pods while unarmed Hueys became "Slicks" (similarly, the USN and USMC called their transports "Dolphins" and their gunships "Sharks"). Many other weapon arrangements were trialed with the Huey airframe throughout the Vietnam War resulting in a plethora of experimental systems with a laundry list of x-type designations. These trials included the use of air-to-surface missiles, 7.62mm minigun gun pods, 20mm and 30mm cannon armament, mine dispensers, heavy caliber 12.7mm miniguns and 40mm grenade launchers. In all, the series was already proving its adaptability to just about any role imaginable even though many of these impressive armament arrangements were never accepted into any official role.


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Specifications for the
Bell UH-1 Iroquois (Huey)
Multi-Role / Utility / Attack / Transport Helicopter


Focus Model: Bell UH-1D Iroquois (Huey)
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Bell Helicopter Company - USA / Agusta-Bell - Italy / Fuji-Bell - Japan / AIDC - Taiwan / Dornier - Germany
Initial Year of Service: 1959
Production: 16,500


Crew: 2 + 14


Length: 57.09ft (17.4m)
Width: 47.90ft (14.60m)
Height: 14.44ft (4.40m)
Weight (Empty): 5,214lbs (2,365kg)
Weight (MTOW): 9,039lbs (4,100kg)


Powerplant: 1 x Lycoming T53-L-11 turboshaft engine delivering 1,100shp driving a two-blade main rotor and two-blade tail rotor.


Maximum Speed: 137mph (220kmh; 119kts)
Maximum Range: 317miles (510km)
Service Ceiling: 19,390ft (5,910m; 3.7miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,755 feet per minute (535m/min)


Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
Highly variable depending on role and operator. Can consist of the following or combinations thereof:

2 x 7.62mm General Purpose machine guns (pintle-mounted in doorway - M60, MG3).
2 x 7.62mm GUA-17/A miniguns (pintle-mounted in doorway or external forward-facing).
2 x Mark Mk 44 Torpedoes
2 x Mark Mk 46 Torpedoes
2 x MQ 44 Torpedoes
2 x AS 12 air-to-surface missiles
2 x Sea Killer air-to-surface missiles
2 x 7-tube 2.75" rocket pods
2 x 19-tube 2.75" rocket pods
Conventional Drop Bombs (Lebanon and El Salvador)

EVALUATED:
M60C 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns
M60D 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns
BGM-71 TOW Anti-Tank Missiles
AGM-22/B Air-to-Surface Missiles
M24A1 20mm cannons
XM140 30mm cannons
M2BH 12.7mm heavy machine guns
XM213/M213 12.7mm machine guns
SUU-13D/A mine dispensers
M129 40mm automatic grenade launchers
XM159 2.75" rocket launchers
MA-2/A 2-shot - 2.75" rocket launchers
M157 7-shot 2.75" rocket launchers
M158 7-shot 2.75" rocket launchers
XM3 24-shot 2.75" rocket launchers
GAU-15/A 12.7mm Minigun
GAU-16/A 12.7mm Minigun
GAU-17/A 7.62x51mm Minigun
XM18/M18 Minigun Pods
Smoke Grenade Dispenser (M6, M7 and M8 grenade types tested).


Variants:
Bell Model 204 - Company Prototype Designation; covers XH-40, YH-40, UH-1A, B, C, E, F, HH-1K, UH-1L, P and M production models.


Bell Model 533 - Single Developmental Model based on YH-40BF evaluation model fitted with turbofan engine and wings.

Bell Model 205 - Company Designation covering UH-1D and UH-1H models; long-fuselage version based on Model 204.

Bell Model 212 - Becoming UH-1N production models; twin-engine version; also known as "Twin Pac".

XH-40 - Prototype Designation; fitted with Lycoming XT-53-L-1 engine of 700 shaft horsepower; three examples produced.

YH-40 - Modified XH-40 prototypes for evaluation purposes; increased cabin space; six examples produced.

HU-1A - Initial Production model; redesignated to UH-1A after 1962; 182 examples produced.

TH-1A - Conversion dual-control trainers based on HU-1A/UH-1A production models; 14 examples converted in this fashion.

XH-1A - Single developmental UH-1A for use in grenade launcher tests.

YUH-1B - Four Prototype B-model examples.

HU-1B - Improved UH-1A model; 1,014 examples produced.

NUH-1B - Single Test Variant

UH-1C - UH-1B model with improved powerplant, revised blades and rotor-head; 767 examples produced.

YUH-1D - Pre-production UH-1D models; 7 examples produced.

UH-1D - Troop Transport (seating for 13); long fuselage cabin; based on Bell Model 205; 2,008 examples produced.

HH-1D - US Army rescue model based on UH-1D.

UH-1E - USMC models based on UH-1B and UH-1C production models; varying systems; 192 examples produced.

NUH-1E - Single UH-1E example for testing.

TH-1E - USMC trainer model converted from UH-1C production models; 20 examples produced.

UH-1F - USAF UH-1B and UH-1C production models; fitted with General Electric T-58-GE-3 engine of 1,325 shaft horsepower; 120 examples produced.

TH-1F - USAF trainer based on UH-1F production models; 26 examples produced.

UH-1H - Improved UH-1D models; semi-rigid all-metal main rotor and rigid delta hinged tail rotor; fitted with Lycoming T-53-L-13 engine of 1,400 shaft horserpower; seating for 13 troops; 5,435 examples produced.

UH-1H "Nighthawk" - Special night operations interdiction model; fitted with Zenon searchlight, M134 7.62mm minigun, 2 x M60D 7.62mm machine guns and 1 x M2HB 12.7mm machine gun; crew of two pilots and four gunners.

CUH-1H - Canadian UH-1H utility production models; 10 examples produced; later redesignated to CH-118.

EH-1H - Electronic Warfare conversion aircraft for Project Quick Fix; fitted with AN/ARQ-33 interception and jamming system; 22 examples modified in this fashion.

HH-1H - USAF Search and Rescue (SAR) variant; 30 examples produced.

JUH-1 - Battlefield Surveillance Aircraft; fitted with under-fuselage radar system.

TH-1H - USAF flight trainers modified from UH-1H production models.

UH-1G - Cambodian armed UH-1H; unofficial designation.

UH-1J - Japanese license-production (Fuji) of an improved UH-1H variant; fitted with Allison T53-L-703 turboshaft engine of 1,800 shaft horsepower; updates include night vision capability and countermeasures.

HH-1K - USN Search and Rescue Variant; 27 examples produced.

TH-1L - USN Flight Trainer based on the HH-1K; 45 examples produced.

UH-1L - Utility Model based on TH-1L trainer; 8 examples produced.

UH-1M - Gunship model based on UH-1C; fitted with Lycoming T-53-L-13 engine of 1,400 shaft horsepower.

UH-1N - Twin Engine Variant based on Bell Model 212.

UH-1P - USAF Special Operations and Attack models.

EH-1U - Multiple Target Electronic Warfare System (MULTEWS).

UH-1V - US Army MedEvac Variant.

EH-1X - Electronic Warfare Platforms based on modified UH-1H models; 10 examples converted in this fashion.

UH-1Y - Upgraded UH-1N late production models.

UH-1Y "Venom" - Modern USMC productiom models developed from UH-1N Twin Huey; four-badem all-composite rotor system; upgraded transmission and engines; increased MTOW, range and speed; digital cockpit with MFDs; increased parts commonality with AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters; a total of 123 on order.

Agusta-Bell AB 204 - Augusta-Bell license-production military transports for Italy.

Agusta-Bell AB 204AS - Augusta-Bell license-production Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopters for Italy.

Fuji-Bell 204B-2 "Hiyodori" - Fuji Heavy Industries license-production military transports for use by Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force.

Bell 205A-1 - Military Utility Transport based on UH-1H models.

Bell 205A-1A - Israeli export gunship/transport models based on 205A-1 transports; hardpoints for external armament.

Agusta-Bell AB 205 - Augusta-Bell license-production military utility transports for Italy.

AIDC UH-1H - Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation license-production military utility transport models for Taiwan.

Dornier UH-1D - Dornier Flugzeugwerke license-production military utility transport models for Germany.

Fuji-Bell 205A-1 (HU-1H) - Fuji license-production military utility transport models for use by Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force.

"Huey II" - Improved and Updated model for military market; based on UH-1H production models.

UH-1/T700 "Ultra Huey" - Improved and Updated model for commercial market; fitted with General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshaft engine.


Operators:
Afghanistan; Albania; Argentina; Australia; Austria; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belize; Bolivia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Brunei; Burma; Cambodia; Canada; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Domican Republic; El Salvador; Ecuador; Ethiopia; Germany; Greece; Georgia; Guatemala; Honduras; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Italy; Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Macedonia; Mexico; Morroco; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Oman; Pakistan; Panama; Paraguay; Papua New Guinea; Peru; Philippines; Taiwan; Rhodesia; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Singapore; Serbia; Somalia; South Korea; South Vietnam; Spain; Sweden; Tanzania; Thailand; Tunisia; Turkey; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; United States; Uruguay; Venezuela; Vietnam; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe