H-34 Choctaw in Action (Aircraft 146)
By Lennart Lundh
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications Inc. 1994 50 Pages
PDF 15 MB
In 1952. practical military helicopters were barely a decade old; however, the strides made in that time had been phenomenal. The limited-range, small-payload aircraft introduced in wartime Huropc and America had given way to such types as the Sikorsky H-19 and Piasecki H-21. The former, first flown on 10 November 1949. was proving to be a capable pcrf»>rmcr in the war on the Korean peninsula. The latter, just entering production, was in great demand from the Air Force and Army. Moving troops or hauling cargo, earning ihii rescues or protecting the Fleet, the helicopter's potential was unlimited.
The H04S-I. as the Navy designated the H-19. was in use with the Meet as an anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The first American production ASW helicopter, its success in creating doctrine and tactics also highlighted its shortcomings. Requirements lor greater power and longer range caused the Navy to begin searching for the H04S-1 successor only a year after its introduction. Bell and Sikorsky both entered the competition for the new design. Bell's entry was the HSL-I. a tandem rotor design with the cockpit in the nose, a centrally located cabin, and an aft mounted engine. Their only twin-rotor aircraft, its resemblance to Piasecki's H-21 reflected a branch of design which has carried on through to the M-46 and H-47. It was the first helicopter designed from the start for ASW work, but it possessed serious faults. Its size made it awkward for shipboard use and excessive cabin noise levels interfered with sonar operation. Contract cancellations, including all Royal Navy orders, resulted in only three prototypes and 50 production aircraft being built between 1953 and 1956. Most were mothballed upon delivery. Six were modified at NATC Patuxent River. Maryland for use in mine countermeasure experiments. These served with the Naval Air Mine Defense Development Unit at Panama City into the 1960s.