Introduction: A Journey Through the Evolution of Military Helicopters In this article, we begin an enlightening journey through the intriguing history of military helicopters. From the earliest experiments in the 1940s, we’ll chart the evolution to today’s sophisticated, multi-role aircraft. This captivating narrative highlights how these incredible machines have dramatically transformed warfare. The next section…
The Sikorsky Model S-60 was proposed to meet the Army’s need for a Utility Tacticla Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) to replace the UH-1 Iroquois. The prototype was first flown on October 17, 1974, and the Army ordered 2,260 of the type, designated UH-60 Black Hawk, although budgetary constraints confined the order to 1,400, the first entering service in June 1979. The Black Hawk is considerably larger than the UH-1 and initial aircraft could carry 20 troops compared with 11, plus a substantial underslung load (8,000lbs).
Designed as a heavy assault transport helicopter for the Marine Corps, the initial Sea Stallion CH-53A version of the Sikorsky S-65 was basically a considerably enlarged version of the S-61, but with a conventional fuselage instead of a boat hull. The dynamic parts – gearboxes, transmission and rotors – were based on those of the CH-54 (S-64) but with the main rotor having a titanium hub and folding blades.
The CH-46 Sea Knight Helicopter has been the workhorse of the Navy and Marine Corps medium-lift squadrons since it entered service in June 1964. It was developed as the Vertol Model 107, which was also being designed for the civilian market, and was first flown on April 22, 1958. An initial trial batch was ordered by the Army but this was redued when Vertol published drawings of the enlarged Model 114 which became the Chinook. By 1960 Vertol had been absorbed into Boeing.
The CH-47 Chinook Helicopter was an enlarged development of the Vertol Model 107, designated Model 114, which the Army preferred because of its greater capacity. The prototype was first flown on September 21, 1961, and deliveries to the Army began in 1972 as the CH-47A Chinook. With large twin rotors powered by relatively new turboshaft engines, plus a cavernous fuselage, the CH-47 offered helicopter airlift capability not previously available.
The AH-1W SuperCobra twin-engined attach helicopter, delivered to the USMC from 1986, was developed from the ubiquitous AH-1, versions of which served the Army (AH-1G) and Marines (AH-1T SeaCobra). They all have their roots in the Bell company’s 1950s studieds related to armed helicopters that led to the OH-13X modified version of the Bell 47/AH-47 Sious and the UH-1/AH-1 Huey/Model 209 HueyCobra. The later entered Army service as the AH-1G in the 1960’s, and were deployed to Vietnam as gunships from September 1967.
The AH-64 Apache Helicopter was originally designed by Hughes in the 1970s to meet an Army requirement for an advanced attack helicopter. Production was not authorized until 1982. The first Apache helicopter deployed in 1986. The AH-64A became the Army’s primary attack helicopter and a total of 824 were put into Army service.
The Apache helicopter can react quickly to engage in close combat to destroy, disrupt or hold up enemy forces.