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Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe / Erickson S-64 Skycrane

United States (1962)
Picture of Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe / Erickson S-64 Skycrane Heavy-Lift Cargo / Firefighting Helicopter
Picture of Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe / Erickson S-64 Skycrane Heavy-Lift Cargo / Firefighting Helicopter Picture of Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe / Erickson S-64 Skycrane Heavy-Lift Cargo / Firefighting Helicopter
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The unique Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane heavy-lift helicopter also spawned a military form in the CH-54 Tarhe for the United States Army.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe / Erickson S-64 Skycrane Heavy-Lift Cargo / Firefighting Helicopter.  Entry last updated on 4/18/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The original Sikorsky S-60 proved itself as a heavy-lift helicopter through its sole example completed. This model was born from the established CH-47 "Mojave" (detailed elsewhere on this site) of the United States military and used as the basis for the dimensionally larger S-64 "Skycrane" heavy-lift series. The large helicopter - easily identifiable by its largely missing fuselage section - has seen consistent service in the civilian market since introduction in the 1960s. It served as the base design for the military-minded CH-54 "Tarhe" line as well. A prototype went airborne for the first time on May 9th, 1962 and, in 1992, production rights for the series was obtained by Erickson Air-Crane which has taken on manufacture of the large helicopter from Sikorsky since.

Total production of S-64 units was 110 beginning with the original S-64 built in three examples. These were followed by six evaluation models for the United States Army as the S-64A. From that came the S-64B which was the civilian-minded version of the Army's CH-54A model and seven were produced. Under Erickson, the line was broadened to include the S-64E and S-64F model marks, these becoming upgraded forms of the CH-54A and CH-54B respectively - the F-model introducing Pratt & Whitney JFTD12-5A series engines.

Civilian market operators of the S-64 are found in Italy, South Korea and the United States. Its primary role is in firefighting where its unique configuration allows the helicopter to carry a considerable water load over uneven terrain, dropping its contents onto raging wildfires with the hope of putting the fire source out.


Picture of the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe / Erickson S-64 Skycrane Heavy-Lift Cargo / Firefighting Helicopter
Picture of the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe / Erickson S-64 Skycrane Heavy-Lift Cargo / Firefighting Helicopter


Production of the military-minded Tarhe yielded 105 total units of its own beginning with the six YCH-54A pre-production models. These were followed by the CH-54A production form which fitted 2 x PW T73-P-1 series turboshaft engines of 4,500 horsepower and 54 examples were built to the standard. The CH-54B saw an increase in overall weight as well as a twin-wheeled undercarriage introduced while power was now served through PW T73-P799 turboshaft engines of 4,800 horsepower. 37 examples were manufactured.

Beyond its service with the United States Army, the CH-54 has been featured by the NASA service of the United States for various program work. In military use, the Tarhe has hauled all manner of heavy objects - from oversized bombs and attack helicopters to combat tanks and cargo containers. A special version even featured skies as its undercarriage.

March 2018 - Flight tests of an S-65 featuring a composite main rotor blade assembly are ongoing. Certification is scheduled for later in 2018 and will be an offered upgrade to E- and F-models as well as to the related CH-54A/B model family. The airfoil on the new blade design is expected to increase overall efficiency of these aging platforms.




Cockpit picture from the Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe / Erickson S-64 Skycrane Heavy-Lift Cargo / Firefighting Helicopter
Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe / Erickson S-64 Skycrane Cockpit Picture


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (149mph).

    Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Sikorsky CH-54B Tarhe's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
215
215


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1962
Type: Heavy-Lift Cargo / Firefighting Helicopter
Manufacturer(s): Sikorsky Aircraft / Erickson Air-Crane - USA
Production: 215
Status: Active, Limited Service
Global Operators:
Italy; South Korea; United States
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Sikorsky CH-54B Tarhe model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
3


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
88.48 ft


Meters
26.97 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
72.01 ft


Meters
21.95 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
25.43 ft


Meters
7.75 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
19,798 lb


Kilograms
8,980 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
46,297 lb


Kilograms
21,000 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Pratt & Whitney T73-P-700 turboshaft engines developing 4,800 shaft horsepower each powering a six-blade main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
149 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
240 kph


Knots
130 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
230 mi


Kilometers
370 km


Nautical Miles
200 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
18,373 ft


Meters
5,600 m


Miles
3.48 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,330 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
405 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• YCH-54A - Six Pre-Production Aircraft
• CH-54A - Initial Production Model; fitted with 2 x T-73-P1 series turboshaft engines of 4,500 shaft horsepower; 54 examples produced.
• CH-54B - Second Production Model; increased weight; based on the CH-54A; fitted with 2 x T-73-P700 turboshaft engines of 4,800 shaft horsepower; 29 examples produced.
• S-64 "Skycrane" - Civilian Variant of the US Army CH-54 Tarhe; 3 examples produced.
• S-64A - Evaluation Models for the US Army; 6 examples delivered.
• S-64E - Civilian Version based on the CH-54A production model for the US Army; 7 examples produced.
• S-64 "Aircrane" - Current Civilian Production Form.
• S-64E - Upgraded CH-54A production models; single new-build example.
• S-64F - UPgraded CH-54B production models; fitted with 2 x Pratt & Whitney JFTD12-5A series engines.