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Bell XH-40


Turbine-Powered Helicopter Prototype (1956)


Aviation / Aerospace

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Jump-to: Specifications

The Bell XH-40 was the origination of the famous Bell UH-1 Huey series of utility helicopters used by the American military and others.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/14/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
The helicopter as an over-battlefield commodity was proven for the Americans during the fighting of the Korean War (1950-1953). This showing propelled the United States Army to investigate broadened use of the type in, particularly in contested areas where helicopters proved a life saving measure for the wounded. The war resulted in greater investment by the service in rotorcraft that could respond to casualty evacuation and other roles where Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) was required.

Against this backdrop in 1955, Bell Helicopter, funded by a U.S. Army contract, began work on a prototype helicopter design that was to be powered by a turbine engine. This powerplant was already trialed through a Model 47 (as the "XH-13") to prove the basics of the arrangement sound. The step up to using the larger, heavier "Model 204" offered its own challenges but success was already within reach. As a military prototype, the Model 204 was designated as the "XH-40" and went to the air for the first time on October 22nd, 1956. The following year, two more prototypes were added to the development stable and, in 1958, no fewer than six helicopters - with lengthened cabins - under the developmental "YH-40" designation were delivered for further testing by the Army.

The design was refined after feedback from the service but Army authorities were convinced in the new helicopter, and its more capable turbine arrangement, that it adopted the YH-40 into service as the UH-1 "Huey" - the symbol of the American involvement in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and the first mass-produced turbine-powered helicopter anywhere in the world.

As finalized, the aircraft had a two-person crew with side-by-side seating in the heavily-windowed cockpit and room in the cabin for additional personnel. The passenger cabin was accessed through sliding side doors while the pilots had access through hinged, automobile-style doors at front. The engine was mounted over and behind the passenger cabin and drove a twin-bladed main rotor unit overhead and a twin-bladed tail rotor unit set to starboard. A shaft connected the powerplant to the rear rotor under the framework of a tail stem. The engine exhausted from a circular port over the tail stem itself. Ground-running was handled by a simple twin-landing skid arrangement which allowed the helicopter to take-off and land from virtually anywhere.

For its time in the air, the XH-40 stood as the progenitor to one of the most well-known and successful rotorcraft in aviation history, its form and function influencing a long-standing line of helicopters that is embodied today by such types as the United States Marine Corps' UH-1Z "Venom" (detailed elsewhere on this site).

Specifications



Service Year
1956

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Status
RETIRED
Not in Service.
Crew
2

Production
9
UNITS


Bell Helicopter - USA
National flag of the United States United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Special-Mission: MEDical EVACuation (MEDEVAC)
Extraction of wounded combat or civilian elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and available internal volume or external carrying capability.
Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
Transport
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.


Length
55.1 ft
(16.80 m)
Width/Span
48.1 ft
(14.65 m)
Height
14.4 ft
(4.40 m)
Empty Wgt
3,307 lb
(1,500 kg)
MTOW
7,716 lb
(3,500 kg)
Wgt Diff
+4,409 lb
(+2,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Bell XH-40 production variant)
Installed: 1 x Turbine engine driving a two-bladed main rotor over the fuselage and a two-bladed tail-rotor unit set to starboard.
Max Speed
124 mph
(200 kph | 108 kts)
Ceiling
16,404 ft
(5,000 m | 3 mi)
Range
217 mi
(350 km | 648 nm)
Rate-of-Climb
1,200 ft/min
(366 m/min)


♦ 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


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Bell XH-40 production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database. View aircraft by powerplant type)
None.


XH-40 - Base prototype Designation; three constructed for testing in 1956-1957.
YH-40 - Six pre-series helicopters used for additional testing; delivered in 1958.


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