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Hughes TH-55 Osage (Model 269A)

Light Utility Helicopter (LUH)

United States | 1964

"The Hughes TH-55 Osage was the U.S. Army military form of the Model 269A - Japanese industry also contributed to production totals."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/11/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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Sensing a long-standing need in the helicopter market, Hughes Helicopter turned its attention to a very-lightweight two-seat, single-engine type to interest domestic and foreign military and civilian market buyers. The result of this work became the Hughes Model 269, a Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) that, despite its seemingly toy-like appearance, was a rugged, highly versatile rotary-wing platform for many services and industries of the world. This same form established the basis for the U.S. Army's TH-55 "Osage" series - the focus of this article.

The United States Army originally became interested in the helicopter as a combat-level Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) and evaluated no fewer than five examples under the "YHO-2" designation. This was intended to succeed an aging stock of Bell OH-13 and Hiller OH-23 types then in service. Evaluations were held during 1957-1958 and used the slightly modified version of the Model 269, the "Model 269A", which did away with the exposed, skeletal truss-style tail stem and introduced a shrouded boom structure instead. However, the Army passed on the design, citing a lack of funding and the type's inability to convince Army authorities of its over-battlefield value.

The Model 269A was revisited for the role of dedicated two-seat training platform and, in this guise, was adopted for Army service under the designation of TH-55 "Osage". Deliveries ultimately totaled 792 units and its contributions were such that no replacement for this compact helicopter was found until the arrival of Bell UH-1 "Huey" training forms in 1988 - resulting in decades of American helicopter airmen being trained on the Hughes product.

The Army took delivery of the TH-55A from 1964 until 1967 and these were the standard helicopter trainers of the service for their time aloft. Several were outfitted with various engines for testing. Kawasaki of Japan also produced the TH-55/Model 269A under local license as the TH-55J, these to serve directly with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF). Kawasaki produced 38 such helicopters for the service.

The basic design of the TH-55/Model 269 carried the crew of two ( in side-by-side seating) at the bulbous cockpit/fuselage section at front. The crew shared a single console which sat ahead of them and against the bubble-style front glass panel. Views out-of-the-cockpit were excellent and controls were duplicated at each crewman's position and Army models were outfitted with standardized U.S. Army instrumentation and radio equipment. Overhead was the main rotor mast mounting a three-bladed articulated main rotor unit. The engine system was installed under and aft of the fuselage and also drove a simple two-bladed tail rotor unit facing port side. An upward-cranked tailplane was fitted to starboard. For ground support, the helicopter sat on a simple, braced four-point landing skid assembly.

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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 Hughes Model 269A Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).
1 x Lycoming HIO-360-B1A engine developing 180 horsepower while driving a three-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor.
90 mph
145 kph | 78 kts
Max Speed
14,633 ft
4,460 m | 3 miles
Service Ceiling
234 miles
376 km | 203 nm
Operational Range
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 Hughes Model 269A Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).
28.9 ft
8.80 m
O/A Length
24.9 ft
(7.60 m)
O/A Width
7.9 ft
(2.40 m)
O/A Height
893 lb
(405 kg)
Empty Weight
1,554 lb
(705 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Notable series variants as part of the Hughes TH-55 Osage (Model 269A) family line.
TH-55 "Osage" - Base Series Designation.
Model 269 - Base design model developed by Hughes Helicopters for lightweight helicopter market; two prototypes developed utilizing truss-style tail structures; first-flight in 1956 with power from Lycoming O-360-A engine.
Model 269A - Revised tail structure (solid boom type); engine and control options available.
YHO-2 - Model 269A helicopters trialed by the U.S. Army as combat-level observation helicopters; five examples evaluated during 1957 into 1958.
TH-55A - U.S. Army service models, based in the MOdel 269A, featuring U.S. Army-specific equipment and instrumentation; 792 examples delivered from 1964 into 1967.
TH-55J - Model 269A license-produced by Kawasaki for Japanese military service; 38 examples produced.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Hughes TH-55 Osage (Model 269A). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 830 Units

Contractor(s): Hughes Helicopters - USA / Kawasaki - Japan
National flag of modern Japan National flag of the United States

[ Japan; United States ]
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Going Further...
The Hughes TH-55 Osage (Model 269A) Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) appears in the following collections:
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