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Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant


Search and Rescue (SAR) Helicopter


United States | 1967



"The Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant distinguished itself in rescue operations of downed American airmen throughout the Vietnam War."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/28/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The HH-3E "Jolly Green Giant" was a specialized development of the original Sikorsky CH-3 transport helicopter. The HH-3E was specifically designed for Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR) which required long operational ranges, loitering times and hovering qualities and appeared during the American involvement in the Vietnam War (1955-1975). Due to its "combat" SAR classification, the HH-3E was purposely developed with extra protection for the crew and systems when operating in a theater of war. The HH-3E Jolly Green Giant is no longer in service with US military forces.

The Sikorsky CH-3E "Sea King" production model was selected for conversion to the CSAR role across fifty total airframes (the CH-3E was an offshoot of the Sikorsky S-61R product model). These helicopters were given a large rear powered ramp for ease of access to the cargo hold, self-sealing fuel tanks to counter the threat of small arms fire and armoring to increase crew survivability. Additionally, the CH-3E's were given armament for self-defense and a powered hoist for bringing up downed airmen. The hull was sealed to promote water-landings. In-flight refueling was made possible by way of a probe seated to the lower right of the fuselage. Overall, the airframe retained much of the general look and exact layout of the CH-3E when it in its revised HH-3E form.

Initial HH-3E units were deployed to Southeast Asia beginning in 1967 with the United States Air Force. From there, no part of the theater was out of reach from the high endurance mounts and HH-3E crews went to work, sometimes under lethal operating conditions, in rescuing their fallen comrades. Power was served through a pairing of General Electric T58-GE-5 series turboshaft engines rated at 1,500 horsepower each, powering a five-bladed main rotor and five-bladed tail rotor. The design was characterized by its large, deep fuselage to which the engines were mounted along the roof and the raised tail unit aft and above the cargo ramp area. Sponsons along the sides of the hull allowed for waterborne landings. The cockpit sat the two pilots and window panes dotted the sides of the fuselage. The wheeled undercarriage was retractable. A typical crew of four included the pilots, a flight mechanic and dedicated machine gunner. The HH-3E was generally armed with 2 x 7.62mm M60 General Purpose Machine Guns for suppression of enemy elements. The internal hold could house up to 25 passengers or 15 medical litters along with 2 medical specialists.

HH-3E systems were based in Udorn Air Base in Thailand and out of Da Nang Air Base of South Vietnam. The helicopter was a participant in the Son Tay prison camp operation of 1970. The operation involved some 50 US commandos in a raid attempting to rescue as many as 80 prisoners of war from the North Vietnam establishment. At least 29 US Air Force aircraft directly took part in the raid including HH-3Es. Much to the dismay of the rescuers, the prison was devoid of prisoners during the operation, they having been moved to another facility. The mission technically became something of a "failed success" for no POWs were released from captivity but worldwide attention was brought to North Vietnam treatment of their prisoners.

The Vietnam War certainly illustrated the bravery and sacrifice of Jolly Green Giant crews for they were awarded over 190 Silver Stars, 24 Air Force Crosses and even one Medal of Honor. HH-3E crews were exposed to very harrowing conditions during a typical work day - bullet riddled airframes, loss of windscreens and fractured rotor assemblies. It was not uncommon for a single aircraft to have rescued dozens of downed airmen across the theater of war. One of the more famous of the type became "Jolly Green 22" which is retained on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio - the vehicle having served 32 months in Vietnam skies.

Service for the HH-3E did not end with the conclusion of the Vietnam War for its special capabilities were put to good use in Operation Desert Storm during the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Again, the system served down airmen well and managed to further strengthen the history of this fine aircraft. Its involvement in the Gulf War would signal the end of the HH-3E line for the US Air Force retired its fleet by the end of 1995, bringing an end to a storied era.

The United States Coast Guard fielded a similar Sikorsky recovery model recognized as the HH-3F "Pelican". This, too, has been retired from active service.

Italy and Tunisia are the two remaining military operators of the S-61R model.

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Cockpit
While traditional jobs involve workstations, office desks, or cubicles, aircraft provide operators with their own unique, ever-changing view of the world below.
Cockpit image
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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 Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant Search and Rescue (SAR) Helicopter.
2 x General Electric T58-GE-5 turboshaft engines of 1,500 horsepower each driving 5-blade main rotor and 5-bladed tail rotor.
Propulsion
153 mph
247 kph | 133 kts
Max Speed
21,001 ft
6,401 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
779 miles
1,253 km | 677 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant Search and Rescue (SAR) Helicopter.
4
(MANNED)
Crew
73.0 ft
22.25 m
O/A Length
62.3 ft
(19.00 m)
O/A Width
18.1 ft
(5.52 m)
O/A Height
12,346 lb
(5,600 kg)
Empty Weight
22,051 lb
(10,002 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant Search and Rescue (SAR) Helicopter .
TYPICAL:
2 x 7.62mm M60 General Purpose Machine Guns
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant family line.
HH-3E "Jolly Green Giant" - S-61R / CH-3C "stretched" fuselage variant developed specially for the United States Air Force; rear-loading freight ramp.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 50 Units

Contractor(s): Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (retired) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (153mph).

Graph Average of 150 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
50
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
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Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
SEARCH & RESCUE
TRANSPORT
RECONNAISSANCE
Recognition
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 Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant Search and Rescue (SAR) Helicopter appears in the following collections:
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