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Bell Model 412 - United States (1981)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Bell Model 412 Twin-Engine Utility / Transport Helicopter.

 Entry last updated on 8/28/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Bell Model 412  
Picture of Bell Model 412 Twin-Engine Utility / Transport Helicopter
Picture of Bell Model 412 Twin-Engine Utility / Transport Helicopter Picture of Bell Model 412 Twin-Engine Utility / Transport HelicopterPicture of Bell Model 412 Twin-Engine Utility / Transport Helicopter

Bell has produced hundreds of its Model 412 twin-engine utility helicopters for various air services of the world.

in 1968, Bell Helicopter introduced the Bell Model 212 as a twin-engine variant of its Model 204/205 series. The new model became a notable commercial success for the company. In 1981, the line was evolved to produce the Bell 412 which retained the twin-engine configuration but brought about support for a four-bladed main rotor. The type went on to see widespread adoption by civilian and military forces of the world and over 870 have been produced since. The Canadian CH-146 Griffon (detailed elsewhere on this site) is an offshoot of the Bell 412 line.

In the mid-1970s, Bell Helicopter realized the market need for a modernized version of its critical Model 212 product. This spurred the company to revisit the Model 212 and explore various aspects of its design to help improve its performance - namely range and straight-line speed. It was decided to mate a new four-bladed main rotor to the existing twin-engine design. The rotor used composite construction and was of a smaller diameter which both improved function of the spinning blades when compared to the earlier two-bladed main rotor unit. With this major change in place, a prototype Model 412 was first-flown during August of 1979. Market introduction then followed in 1981 and production has since spanned from 1979 to today (2017). In 1989, the line was moved to Canada where manufactured has continued.

Picture of the Bell Model 412 Twin-Engine Utility / Transport Helicopter
Picture of the Bell Model 412 Twin-Engine Utility / Transport Helicopter

The original model was simply known as the Bell 412 and this version carried 2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-3B turboshaft engines driving the rotor blades. The Bell 212SP followed as a "special performance" model with PT6T-3BF engines instead. A higher-performance variant became the Bell 412HP with its PT6T-3BG or PT6T-3D engines.

The Bell 412 EP was an enhanced performance form powered by 2 x PT6T-3DF engines, providing a maximum speed of 160 miles per hour, a cruising speed around 140 mph, a range out to 610 miles and a service ceiling of 20,000 feet. Rate-of-climb became 1,350 feet-per-minute.

In the Bell 412EPI, an all-glass cockpit was introduced along with electronically-controlled engines (PT6T-9 series). The Bell 412CF became the basis for the aforementioned Canadian CH-146 and this was based on the Bell 412EP model. Its flight training form was the HT1 and the Search and Rescue (SAR) platform became the HAR2.

In Italy, Agusta took on license-production of the Bell 412 for the civilian market under the designation of Agusta-Bell AB412. The EP-model was the AB412EP. The military transport derivative became the AB412 "Grifone" and a special ground radar-equipped model was the AB412 CRESO. Indonesian Aerospace (IAe) produced the Model 412 as the NBell 412. An little-known unlicensed Iranian-build version of the Model 412 is the Panha 412EP, debuting in 2016.

The Bell Model 412 has proven a popular mount across the world with operators from Algeria and Argentina to Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Beyond its stated military and civilian market value, the helicopter has proven equally-successful as a governmental-level VIP/staff transport for many nations as well. Some police and fire-fighting services make use of the type - such is its versatility.

Bell Model 412 Specifications

Service Year: 1981
Type: Twin-Engine Utility / Transport Helicopter
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): Bell Helicopter - USA
Total Production: 870

Operating Crew, Dimensions and Operating Weights

Operating Crew (Typical): 2
Overall Length: 56.10 feet (17.1 meters)
Overall Width: 45.93 feet (14.00 meters)
Overall Height: 15.09 feet (4.60 meters)

Weight (Empty): 6,790 lb (3,080 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 11,905 lb (5,400 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Engine: 1 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-3D OR PT6T-3DF "Twin-Pac" turboshaft engines developing 1,250 horsepower each and driving a four-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor.

Maximum Speed: 162 miles-per-hour (260 kilometers-per-hour; 140 knots)
Maximum Range: 609 miles (980 kilometers; 529 nautical miles)
Service Ceiling: 20,013 feet (6,100 meters; 3.79 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,350 feet-per-minute (411 meters-per-minute)

Armament / Mission Payload


Global Operators (A-to-Z)

Algeria; Argentina; Australia; Botswana; Brazil; Cameroon; Canada; Chile; China; Colombia; Czech Republic; Dominican Republic; El Salvador; Eritrea; Finland; Ghana; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Indonesia; Italy; Jamaica; Japan; Lesotho; Mexico; Netherlands; Nigeria; Norway; Pakistan; Panama; Peru; Philippines; Saudi Arabia; Slovenia; South Korea; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Turkey; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; Venezuela; Zimbabwe

Series Model Variants

Model 412 - Base Series Designationl initial production model; fitted with PT6T-3B engines.
Model 412SP - Special performance model with PT6T-3BF engines.
Model 412HP - High-performance model with PT6T-3BG OR PT6T-3D engines.
Model 412EP - Enhanced performance model with PT6T-3DF engines.
Model 412EPI - Enhanced performance version with modernized, all-glass cockpit and digitally-controlled engines (PT6T-9 series).
Model 412CF - Canadian Army transport helicopter based on Model 412EP.
CH-146 Griffon - Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAAF) designation of the Model 412CF.
Griffin HT1 - RCAF training helicopter
Griffin HAR2 - RCAF Search and Rescue (SAR) model.
AB412 - Civilian market transport model by Agusta of Italy.
AB412EP - Enhanced Performance model by Agusta.
AB412 Grifone - Military model by Agusta.
AB412 CRESO - Model with ground search radar fitted by Agusta.
Nbell 412 - Indonesian local-production model by Indonesia Aerospace (IAe).
Panha 412EP - unlicensed Iranian military version of the Model 412EP model.

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