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Bell UH-1H-BF Iroquois (Huey)

Bell UH-1H-BF Iroquois (Huey)
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The Bell UH-1 series of helicopters were the most widely used and known helicopter of the Vietnam War. Millions of television viewers worldwide watched troops leaping from hovering UH-1s into battle zones or watched others being loaded with battle casualties. The helicopters were universally more commonly known as the “Huey” rather than the official name of Iroquois.

In February 1955, Bell Aircraft Corporation won a competition to develop and build a turbine-powered utility helicopter for the U.S. Army. The new helicopter was designated Bell Model 204 and initially, the XH-40 under the US Air Force system. Three HX-40 prototypes were built. The first prototype first flew October 20, 1956. The XH-40s were followed by six YH-40 service test aircraft, all delivered by August 1958.

In 1956, US Army Aviation introduced its own designation system. The XH-40 became the XHU-1, and the YH-40 became the YHU-1 with HU standing for helicopter utility. It was this HU designation that gave birth to the famous Huey nickname.

Nine pre-production aircraft, designated HU-1, were first delivered in September 1958. By the end of 1959, the first production HU-1As were delivered to the US Army. These were the first of over 10,000 military Hueys built by Bell based on the Models 204, 205, and 212. Different versions of the Huey flew with the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines as well as over 60 foreign countries. In the first decade of the 21st Century the twin-turboshaft engine UH-1N flies with the US Air Force, Navy and Marines, and UH-1Y with the Marines.

In January 1957, the Fort Worth, Texas, Helicopter Division of Bell became the Bell Helicopter Corporation. In 1960, Textron Incorporated bought Bell Helicopter Corporation, and renamed it the Bell Helicopter Company. In January 1976, the name of the company was changed to Bell Helicopter Textron, then in January 1982, to Bell Helicopter Textron, Incorporated.

Under the Tri-Service Designation System of September 1962, the Iroquois became the H-1. All HU-1As and HU-1Bs were re-designated UH-1As and UH-1Bs, respectively.

The Huey went to war in April 1962, in Vietnam. US Army Aviation and Medical Ambulance Companies initially flew UH-1As (HU-1A) on MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation) missions. In October 1962, armed utility troop transport HU-1As that became known as “slicks” arrived in South Vietnam. By the end of the year, over 300 Hueys were in South Vietnam, and the numbers would only grow during the war to eventually be in the thousands. Marine Corps H-1s began operating in Vietnam in 1965, and Navy and Air Force versions were in the war by 1966.

As later versions of the Huey were developed, the Army began using the UH-1Bs and UH-1Cs primarily as gunships that carried a wide variety of weaponry. UH-1Ds and UH-1Hs were used primarily as “slicks” and MEDEVAC choppers.

Hueys went to war again, in Iraq in 1991, and again as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. With the exception of the twin-turbine UH-1N and UH-1Y, most Hueys have been replaced by the Sikorsky H-60 series of helicopters.

Bell Helicopter Company, Forth Worth, Texas, originally built this UH-1H as an UH-1D-BF for the U.S. Army. It differs from earlier models of the UH-1 in its larger cabin and more powerful engine. The earlier models could accommodate two crew members and seven troops or three litters. The H version could carry two or three crew members plus 12 to 15 passengers or six litters. Compare the size of the crew cab door on this Huey to the second Huey in our collection. Over 2,000 UH-1Ds were built. Many were upgraded to UH-1H standards, and 3,573 UH-1Hs were built for the US Army.

Combat Air Museum acquired this helicopter in November 1995. Its last operational unit was with the 108th Aviation Battalion, Kansas Army National Guard, immediately south of this Museum.

This helicopter is on loan from the US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, Warren, Michigan.

Bell Helicopter Company
Primary Use:
Multi-role utility - general support, air assault, utility, air ambulance
Pilot, co-pilot and 12 to 15 troops or six stretchers
Power Plant:
One 1,400 shp (1,044 kW) Lycoming T53-L-13 turboshaft engine
Max speed: 148 mph (238 km/h) Cruising speed: 127 mph (204 km/h)
Service ceiling:
12,600 ft (3,840m)
318 miles (511km)
1,600ft/min (488m/min)
Main Rotor:
Diameter of main rotor 48ft (14.6m)
Fuselage Length:
41 ft 10.75 in (12.8m)
Length overall:
57 ft 1 in (17.4m)
14 ft 6 in (4.4m)
Rotor disc area:
1,809 sq ft (168.1 sq m)
Empty: 4,793 lbs (2,255kg) Max takeoff: 9,500 lbs (4,309kg)
Two 7.62mm M60 machine guns in doorways
Serial number: US Army 65-09617
Bell Huey UH-1H
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