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Hiller OH-23 Raven (Model UH-12)

Light Utility Helicopter (LUH)

United States | 1948

"Despite its rather simple appearance, the Hiller OH-23 Raven light helicopter line proved reliable even under the wartime stresses of Korea and Vietnam."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/20/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Hiller Aircraft began during World War 2 in 1942 under the operating name of Hiller Industries. The company carried the surname of Stanley Hiller (1924-2006) whose provided much of the early work in the field of helicopter flight. Indeed his first coaxial helicopter design was completed at age 15 and his XH-44 impressed the US Army at age 17. Hiller headed the first helicopter factory in the world out of Berkeley, California. Among his early developments (now under the "United Helicopters" name) included the UH-4 "Commuter" and the UH-5B "Rotormatic" which led to the single-seat UH-12 light utility helicopter of the late 1940s.

The UH-12 held origins in the company Model 360 and saw a first flight in 1948. The UH-12A was a follow-up modification to the original UH-12 and included a more powerful engine to go along with a new, two-blade main rotor. The US Army liked what it saw and contracted for a militarized variant of the UH-12A and this became the evaluation prototype designated YH-23. For the military form, crew capacity was increased to two in a side-by-side seating arrangement underneath a largely transparent bubble-style windscreen. The aircraft was powered by a single Franklin piston engine of 178 horsepower.

The overall configuration consisted of a front-mounted cockpit (originally single-seat and then seating for two or more) with a mid-mounted engine and rear-set stem. The engine powered a two-bladed main rotor blade fitted high atop the mast and drove a two-bladed tail rotor used to offset torque. The cockpit offered generally excellent vision and the undercarriage was of a basic skid-type design. While typically unarmed, some war-time models were outfitted with 2 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns for basic offense.

Following successful trials of the YH-23, the system was formally adopted by the US Army as the H-23A "Raven" across 100 examples. The powerplant became the Franklin O-335-4 piston engine outputting at 178 horsepower. The type also piqued the interest of the USAF whom ordered five examples for official evaluation. The H-23A was followed into service by the revised H-23B. This new model series incorporated a combined skid-and-wheel undercarriage and was powered by a Franklin O-335-6 series piston engine of 200 horsepower output. The US Army then took on a stock of 273 units while an additional 81 served the export market. Some later OH-23B models were upgraded to the more powerful Lycoming VO-435-23B series engine of 250 horsepower.

The H-23C proved unique upon its arrival for it featured seating for three personnel under a single-piece canopy cover and also instituted use of metal blades. Some 145 were procured by the US Army. The H-23D was given an all-new main rotor design and powerpack to include the Lycoming VO-435-23B engine of 250 horsepower. US Army procurement numbered 348 examples. The H-23E was offered but never purchased.

The H-23D seated two crew and showcased a maximum speed of 95 miles per hour with a cruise speed reaching 82 miles per hour. It fielded a range of 200 miles with a service ceiling of 13,200 feet. A rate-of-climb of 1,050 feet was reported.

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The H-23F became a four-seat model with enlarged crew cabin. Additional changes included the use of the VO-540-A1B engine of 305 horsepower. The following H-23G offered seating for three personnel and dual-control features for both pilot positions. This mark was largely based on the preceding H-23F line.

The US Navy followed its own naming convention and tagged the UH-12A as the HTE-1. They were also two-seat airframes but offered dual-controls for both positions. Interestingly, this mark also showcased a tricycle-style wheeled undercarriage. Seventeen of the type were manufactured. The HTE-1 was then followed by the HTE-2 which was the H-23B and its Franklin O-335-6 piston engine of 200 horsepower. 35 examples were procured.

The Royal Navy followed suit and purchased the Hiller design under two marks - Hiller HT.Mk 1 and HT.Mk 2. The Mk 1 were ex-US Navy mounts (HTE-2 models) while the Mk 2 were UH-12E production models. Numbers totaled 20 and 21 respectively and primarily held as trainers out of RNAS Culdrose (Cornwall). The Canadian Army utilized the Hiller design as well, this under the C-112 "Noman" designation.

In 1962, the United States military underwent a branches-wide designation revision which changed all H-23 designations to the "OH" format. H-23B became OH-23B, H-23C became OH-23C and so on (see variants section for complete list). Many OH-23 variants were based on existing civilian-minded Hiller marks including the original UH-12A. The UH-12B was the basis for the US Navy HTE-1 while the UH-12C was the H-23C. The UH-12 was the H-23D and so forth.

The OH-23 proved exceedingly popular on the world market beyond its use by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The list included Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Korea, Thailand and Uruguay among others.

The OH-23 served American forces during the Korean War (1950-1953) as one of the handful of helicopters present in the conflict. The conflict marked the first practical use of rotary-wing aircraft in a modern war despite their (limited) use in the latter years of World War 2. The Hiller aircraft was used in the mission liaison, scouting, observation, general service, trainer and MEDEVAC role in the war, operated alongside the similar Bell Model 47/H-13 "Sioux" helicopter lines. The primary military variant became the OH-23D. As with the H-13 line, the OH-23 saw some combat service in the early years of the Vietnam War. They were replaced, in time, by the much improved Hughes OH-6A "Cayuse" light helicopter.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Hiller H-23D Raven Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).
1 x Lycoming VO-435-23B 6-cylinder engine developing 250 horsepower driving a two-bladed main rotor unit and two-bladed tail rotor unit.
95 mph
153 kph | 83 kts
Max Speed
13,205 ft
4,025 m | 3 miles
Service Ceiling
197 miles
317 km | 171 nm
Operational Range
1,050 ft/min
320 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Hiller H-23D Raven Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).
27.8 ft
8.47 m
O/A Length
35.4 ft
(10.80 m)
O/A Width
9.8 ft
(3.00 m)
O/A Height
1,819 lb
(825 kg)
Empty Weight
2,712 lb
(1,230 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Hiller OH-23 Raven (Model UH-12) Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) .
Usually none though some wartime models were outfitted with 2 x 0.30 caliber (7.62mm) Medium Machine Guns (MMGs) in special outboard mountings.
Notable series variants as part of the Hiller OH-23 Raven (Model UH-12) family line.
H-23 "Raven" - Base Hiller company model designation
YH-23 - U.S. Army evaluation model; single example
H-23A - Initial production model; powered by Franklin O-335-4 engine; two-seat; 105 produced.
H-23B - Powered by Franklin O-335-6 engine of 200 horsepower; 354 produced.
H-23C - Three-seater; metal main rotor blade; 145 examples.
H-23D - All-new main rotor; powered by Lycoming VO-435-23B engine of 250 horsepower; new transmission; 348 produced.
H-23E - Proposed variant; not adopted
H-23F - Four-seater; Lycoming VO-540-A1B engine of 305 horsepower; 22 produced.
H-23G - Three-seater with dual control scheme; 793 examples produced.
HTE-1 - USN model; Franklin O-335 engine; dual control scheme in two-seat cockpit arrangement; wheeled undercarriage; 17 examples produced.
HTE-2 - USN model; Franklin O-335-6 engine; 35 examples produced.
HT Mk 1 - British Navy designation; 20 examples from USN stock.
HT Mk 2 - British Navy designation; 22 examples
CH-112 "Nomad" - Canadian Army designation
U-12A (H-23A) - Civilian model; Franklin O-335-4 engine of 178 horsepower.
UH-12B - USN trainer
UH-12C - Three-seat variant
UH-12D - Improved H-23C for US Army service
UH-12E - Three-seater with dual control scheme
UH-12ET - UH-12E with Allison 250 series turboshaft engine.
UH-12E3 - Improved three-seat form
UH-12E3T - Improved turboshaft version
UH-12E4 - Four-seater; Lycoming VO-540 engine
UH-12E4T - Four-seater with turboshaft engine
UH-12L-4 - Extended fuselage; enlarged cabin windows
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Hiller OH-23 Raven (Model UH-12). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1,820 Units

Contractor(s): Hiller Aircraft Corporation - USA
National flag of Argentina National flag of Canada National flag of Chile National flag of Colombia National flag of the Dominican Republic National flag of Indonesia National flag of Israel National flag of Mexico National flag of the Netherlands National flag of Peru National flag of South Korea National flag of Thailand National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States National flag of Uruguay

[ Argentina; Canada; Chile; Colombia; Dominican Republic; Guatemala; Indonesia; Israel; Mexico; Netherlands; Paraguay; Peru; South Korea; Thailand; United Kingdom; United States; Uruguay ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (95mph).

Graph Average of 75 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Hiller OH-23 Raven (Model UH-12) Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) appears in the following collections:
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