Military Review

"The irreplaceable Iroquois"


Bell UH-1 "Iroquois" (born Bell UH-1 Iroquois) - American multi-purpose helicopter company Bell Helicopter Textron, also known as "Huey" (Huey). This is one of the most famous and popular cars in stories helicopter

The history of the UH-1 began in the mid-fifties, when a competition was announced for the creation of a multi-purpose helicopter, which was to replace the piston Sikorsky UH-34.


Of the proposed projects in 1955, the development of Bell Helicopter Company with the designation Model 204 was chosen. The helicopter was supposed to install a new turboshaft engine Lycoming T53. The first of the three helicopter prototypes, designated XH-40, flew 20 on October 1956 in October at the factory airfield in Fort Worth, Texas.
In the middle of 1959, the first serial UH-1A modification helicopters equipped with the Lycoming T53-L-1A engine with a capacity of 770 l. with. began to enter the US Army. In the army they received the designation HU-1 Iroquois (from 1962 g. - UH-1). Part of the helicopters was armed with two machine guns caliber 7.62 mm and sixteen NUR caliber 70 mm.

"The irreplaceable Iroquois"

In March, an improved version of the UH-1961B helicopter with a T1-L-53 engine with an 5 hp power was adopted.
The payload of the new helicopter reached 1360 kg., While it could lift two pilots and seven soldiers in full gear, or five wounded (three of them on stretchers) and one attendant. In the version of the helicopter fire support on the sides of the fuselage mounted machine guns and NUR.

At the beginning of 1965, the UH-1B in mass production was replaced by a new modification of the UH-1C (Model 540) with an improved main rotor, which allowed reducing vibration, improving controllability and increasing maximum speed. The helicopter was installed engine Lycoming T55-L-7C. He could carry on an external suspension up to 3000 kg of cargo with a take-off weight of 6350 kg and reach a maximum speed of 259km / h.

Shortly after adopting the new helicopters were sent to Vietnam. The 15 helicopters of the Auxiliary Tactical Transport Company formed in Okinawa 15 July 1961 were the first to arrive there. Its personnel were tasked with exploring the possibility of using UH-1A to attack ground targets and escort transport helicopters. A year later, the company was transferred to Thailand, where it took part in the maneuvers of the SEATO block, and already on July 25, 1962 arrived at Tansonnath airbase in South Vietnam. The first combat sortie for the escorting of CH-21 transport helicopters "Iroquois" was performed on 3 August.

5 January 1963 The company lost its first car. Ten CH-21 and five armed Hughs took part in the landing operation in the village of Ap Bak. The four-wave CH-21 transport should have landed the South Vietnamese infantry. The first wave reached the landing zone and unloaded without interference. The descending fog delayed the arrival of the other three groups for an hour and a half. Helicopters of the second and third waves also delivered soldiers without hindrance. Half an hour later, the fourth wave approached. This time the helicopters met a wall of fire. All cars got hit by bullets. One of the Iroquois had the main rotor blade shot, it crashed, the crew died.

According to the experience of military operations, the continuous improvement of the Iroquois went on, new modifications appeared, with improved equipment and more powerful engines.
UH-1D differed from all of its predecessors by increased to 6.23 cubic meter. the volume of the cabin. The payload reached 1815 kg. The helicopter was equipped with a T53-L-11 engine with shaft power 820kW.

A modification of the UH-1E was created for the US Marine Corps. It differed from the UH-1B with the new composition of the radio equipment, and since 1965 with the new rotor, similar to the UH-1C. Serially, the UH-1E was produced from February 1963 to the summer 1968. The helicopter was actively used in Vietnam for landing and rescue operations.
Compared to the army aviationThe Marine Corps had relatively few combat helicopters. In the spring of 1967, there were only two UH-1E squadrons in Vietnam. At first, these were not armed search and rescue vehicles. But soon the development of search and rescue tactics led to the appearance of special armed vehicles. The Iroquois Marine Corps often performed tasks in Vietnam that were far from search and rescue. UH-1E were used in the same way as army helicopters. I had to install four M-60 machine guns and NAR blocks on them. Unlike army vehicles, the machine guns were mounted motionless on the marine "Iroquois". In 1967, the marine rotorcraft received turrets with two M-60 machine guns.

"Iroquois" from June 1963, began to enter into service with light airmobile mouths. Each of them included two platoons of transport helicopters and a platoon of fire support.
The number of helicopters operating in Vietnam grew very quickly, in the spring of 1965 there were some Iroquois there were about 300 (about 100 of them were UH-1 B drums), and at the end of the decade the Americans had only Iroquois more in Indochina what was in service with the armies of all other countries of the world - about 2500.
The squadrons of the "air cavalry" became widely known. The squadron consisted of three platoons: reconnaissance, fire support and transport. The first armed forces consisted of light helicopters OH-13 or OH-23, the second - UH-1В, and the third flew the UH-1D. Very often reconnaissance and attack helicopters operated in a single battle formation.

To increase the payload from the helicopters, chairs and doors were often dismantled, as well as auxiliary equipment, without which it was possible to do in flight. The bodyguard was also shot, which the crews considered to be useless ballast. According to the pilots, the main defense was the speed and maneuverability of helicopters. But the increase in flight performance could not guarantee invulnerability.
The losses of helicopters can be judged by the memories of the flight engineer R. Chinovise, who arrived in Vietnam in January 1967. A novice discovered at least Tantonnath airbase at least 60 damaged and completely broken "Iroquois". At the same time, most of the holes were in the middle parts of the fuselages - shooters and technicians were killed and wounded much more often than pilots.

Very soon, the Iroquois became the “workhorse” of the airborne units, the Americans switched from using rotary-wing vehicles in small units (platoon-company) to forming a helicopter division. In the middle of February, 1963 began the formation of the 11 th air assault division and the 10 th air transport brigade assigned to it. The staff of the division was defined in 15 954 man with 459 helicopters and airplanes. The “air cavalry” squadron was supposed to have 38 UH-1B helicopter fire support helicopters (including four helicopters armed with SS.11 ATGM or TOW) and 18 UH-1D transport.

The division artillery consisted of an aviation missile battalion - XHUMX UH-39B helicopters armed with unguided missiles. For actions in the enemy's rear part of the division included a company "trackers". The delivery of reconnaissance and sabotage groups was assigned to six UH-1B helicopters. The main striking force of the division was two assault helicopter battalions, each with 1 armed UH-12B and 1 UH-60D transport. Unlike the "air cavalry" squadron helicopters, the UH-1B assault battalions had only machine-gun armament and were intended to escort transport vehicles and final clearance of the landing area. The entire statewide division was supposed to have (among other aircraft) 1 attack helicopters UH-137B and 1 UH-138D transport helicopters. The usual proportion of armed helicopters in relation to transport flights on combat missions was initially 1: 1, but according to the experience of war, the number of helicopter gunships had to be increased: one UH-5B to three UH-1D.

The most advanced modification used in Vietnam was the UH-1H with Avco Lycoming T53-L-13 engine with shaft power 1044 kW. Its shipments began in September 1967.

Combat experience revealed a number of flaws in Hugh. Because of the low speed, heavy armed vehicles of the UH-1B modification were easily hit by machine guns, especially large-caliber ones, and most importantly, they did not keep pace with the faster UH-1D. Insufficient strength of the tail boom was noted - during rough landing it broke from contact with the ground, damaged from frequent strikes against tree branches during low-altitude flights. The power of the UH-1D engine was enough to transport only seven fighters with full equipment instead of nine or, moreover, twelve. In the heat of the UH-1D, flying in the mountains, took on board only five paratroopers. The lack of power did not allow the installation of serious armor on helicopters. Often, pilots in a combat situation loaded their "horses" on the principle of "climb as long as there is space." As a result of overload, the engine is jammed; the helicopter fell, rolled over and caught fire. Another reason for not fighting losses were reflex movements. There is a case in which the pilot jerked his hand abruptly at a close break. The helicopter banked sharply, hooking the telegraph pole with the propeller blade. The car crashed.

Iroquois was perhaps the most recognizable symbol of the Vietnam War, along with Phantom and the B-52. In total, over the 11 years of the war in Southeast Asia, according to official data, US Army helicopters made 36 million sorties, flown 13,5 million hours, 31 000 helicopters were damaged by anti-aircraft fire, but only 3500 of them (10%) were shot down or made forced landing. Such a low ratio of casualties to the number of combat missions is unique to aircraft in conditions of intense combat operations — 1: 18 000. However, a significant part of combat losses fell into the “flight accidents” column.
For example, if a wounded helicopter landed at its aerodrome, where it burned safely, it was not counted as a downed one. The same happened with the decommissioned machines, which managed to return, but were not subject to recovery.

Due to the vulnerability of UH-1В helicopters of fire support, which suffered great losses, a program was launched to create on its base a specialized AN-1 shock cobra, which had much better protection. "Iroquois" was too vulnerable to small arms weapons and especially large-caliber machine guns that form the basis of the Viet-Kong air defense system.

Several hundred helicopters were handed over to South Vietnam, these machines were actively used in combat until the very last days. When the collapse of the Saigon regime became inevitable, they were used to flee the country.

South Vietnamese "Huey" pushed over the side of the ship to make room on the deck

A significant part of the helicopters handed over by the Americans to South Vietnam went after the fall of Saigon as trophies of the DRV army. Where they are actively used until the end of the eighties.

After a successful debut in Vietnam, the Iroquois spread very widely throughout the world. Often used helicopters were transferred to “pro-American” oriented countries as part of military assistance. More than 10000 helicopters were exported. In Japan and Italy, they were released under license, in total about 700 machines were built.

In the early seventies, on the basis of the UH-1D for the Navy and the Marine Corps (ILC), a twin-engine modification UH-1N was created. The power plant of the PT6T Twin-Pac helicopter of the Canadian company Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Canada (PWAC) consisted of two turboshaft engines installed side by side and rotating the main rotor shaft through a gearbox. The shaft power output of the first production helicopter was 4,66 kW / kg. In the event of a malfunction of one of the two turbines, torque sensors located in the collecting gearbox transmitted a signal to the serviceable turbine and it began to generate shaft power in the range from 764 kW to 596 kW, for emergency or continuous operation, respectively.

This technical solution has improved the safety of the flight and the survival rate of the machine in case of damage to a single engine.
At about the same time, the civilian version of the helicopter was created. It differed from the military model in the cabin and electronic equipment.
8 Model 212 helicopters in 1979g. were delivered to China. Model 212 helicopters under the name Agusta-Bell AB.212 were also produced in Italy under license from Agusta.

The helicopters of the UH-1 family in the US Army were gradually driven out by a more heavy-duty and high-speed Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.
But the USMC was in no hurry to abandon the well-proven machine.
On the decks of amphibious assault ships, compact Iroquois occupied much less space.
To replace the aging UH-1N at Bell Helicopter Textron, in the beginning of 2000-x, work began on creating a new modification of the helicopter. The helicopter modernization program was carried out in parallel with the work on the AH-1Z King Cobra helicopter.
The new version of "Hugh" received the designation UH-1Y Venom.

The helicopter is equipped with a four-blade main rotor made of composite materials, the 2 GTE General Electric T700-GE-401, the fuselage size has been increased for additional avionics, a new avionics kit including GPS and digital mapping system are installed, new systems of passive and active radio engineering countermeasure are installed. Significantly expanded the range of weapons used. Passenger capacity increased to 18 people, and maximum speed to 304 km / h. The serial production of the UH-1Y started in the 2008 year.

The cost of the entire modernization program of nearly three hundred Hugh and Super Cob, as well as the purchase of new helicopters by marines and the US Navy will exceed 12 billion dollars. That is characteristic, the principle of production economy is not forgotten. The hull systems, avionics and the UH-1Y propulsion system on the 84 percent are compatible with the above-mentioned AH-1Z King Cobra fire support helicopters, which will greatly simplify maintenance.

The tendency to wash out old aircraft samples from combat, well marked in 90 and 2000, paradoxically does not apply to some machines. No alternative, for example, is the B-52 bomber and the military transport C-130. Simple, familiar and reliable "Hugh" also became such a weapon.

Since the start of mass production in 1960, more than 16000 have been produced. UH-1 various modifications. Machines of this type have been used in more than 90 countries. A significant part of them is still in flight. Given the launch into production of a new modification, there is no doubt that these helicopters will take off for several more decades.

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  1. roial
    roial 7 October 2013 09: 40
    A good article, it is a pity that our light helicopters were not held in high esteem.
    1. xetai9977
      xetai9977 7 October 2013 09: 50
      Immediately remember the helicopter attack from the movie "Apocalypse Now"
      1. tforik
        tforik 7 October 2013 10: 23
        And yesterday I reviewed "Predator", where the Schwarz was thrown into the jungle with a mohawk or a cobra.
        1. Bongo
          7 October 2013 13: 35
          On the Iroquois, of course, the Cobra is a purely shock, two-seater vehicle, there is no place for the landing.
          Article about "Cobra":

          1. tforik
            tforik 7 October 2013 19: 13
            Yes, of course!

            Great movie about helicopters during the Vietnam War. About Huey (Iroquois) is almost half the film.
            1. Ingvar 72
              Ingvar 72 8 October 2013 10: 59
              The car is very successful, especially for that time. Hugh, MI-8, these are legends.
  2. Standard Oil
    Standard Oil 7 October 2013 10: 31
    Thanks to Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky for our happy childhood!
    1. Nayhas
      Nayhas 7 October 2013 10: 58
      Quote: Standard Oil
      Thanks to Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky for our happy childhood!

      Or you that Hughes, that Bell, that Sikorsky one hell?
      1. Argon
        Argon 7 October 2013 14: 21
        Without a conditionally outstanding apparatus. The article does not clearly highlight the prerequisites for the creation of this helicopter, the main goal is to increase the tactical mobility of the infantry at the lowest cost, that is, the creation of a "flying jeep". And the specialists from Bell - "originality-as a trademark" performed it brilliantly, the machine is very simple to operate, practically does not reach critical modes, and most importantly, the mass-dimensional configuration of the "Air Horse" was chosen quite successfully for the modern (at that time) cavalry. from an average 45 (on an armored personnel carrier) to 100-110 km / h, at the same time showing the whole world that the "dragonfly" is not just fun, but also an effective weapon, its simplicity, cheapness and, as a result, quantity, made it an affordable tool for lower-level officers By the way, their "conscripts" were piloted. It was only later that it became clear that each landing operation in the tactical zone would be "air assault" and the concept of "flying B" came to replace the concept of a "flying jeep" MP ". But this took almost 7 years. And the Iroquois did not depreciate at all as a relatively cheap vehicle of high mobility.
        1. Bongo
          7 October 2013 14: 24
          It is doubtful that at the time of its creation, someone especially thought about the concept of its application. Moreover, the model range of helicopters in the US is huge. But in general, I agree with you.
          1. Walking
            Walking 7 October 2013 17: 35
      2. alone
        alone 7 October 2013 23: 13
        Quote: Nayhas
        Or you that Hughes, that Bell, that Sikorsky one hell?

        simply. except Sikorsky does not know anyone. here and blurted out. without any checks of information. although you could just google at least)
  3. Srgsoap
    Srgsoap 7 October 2013 10: 51
    Needless to say, the legendary pinwheel, recognizable by everyone. And the two-bladed propeller created its own special sound, which was impossible to confuse. Article 5 +++++++++++++++++.
  4. cth; fyn
    cth; fyn 7 October 2013 11: 10
    Mi-8/17 American spill.
  5. Forest
    Forest 7 October 2013 11: 20
    With one engine and a pair of blades, the HB Mohawk was a "flying coffin" -American roulette laughing
    1. cdrt
      cdrt 7 October 2013 11: 49
      With one engine and a pair of blades, the HB Mohawk was a "flying coffin" -American roulette

      You write about the helicopter that went through more wars than our Mi-8 ...
      And the most warring part of the US Armed Forces (ILC) continues to purchase it, and not any of the more modern counterparts.
      Well ... from the beginning of the 80s, in my opinion, there are already two motor ones.
      I also recommend asking why the rotor was two-bladed, while ours had more blades. What is the difference between screws, blades and what caused it - be surprised at the answers if you dig
      1. Forest
        Forest 7 October 2013 15: 21
        Believe me, I know more about helicopters than you do, in essence there will be arguments or only water: "And the most belligerent part of the US Armed Forces (ILC) continues to buy it." The phrase "and ours had more blades" is how you compare it to MI- 2? "the difference was between the propellers, the blades" - another masterpiece is the same as comparing a gearbox with gear satellites laughing
    2. Prapor-527
      Prapor-527 7 October 2013 12: 38
      However, this 'coffin', as you put it, saved thousands of soldiers from real coffins. Undoubtedly a legendary car!
      1. Forest
        Forest 7 October 2013 15: 33
        The wretched cheap "meat grinder" finally reached the designers, after so many years of operation, install a second engine and increase the number of HB blades.
        1. mikkado31
          mikkado31 8 October 2013 19: 42
          I flew on it and on Black Hawk. Alive, as you see.
          1. Forest
            Forest 9 October 2013 08: 14
            I wrote roulette, and the decision of the designers to put a second engine and two more pairs of blades only confirms my words.
            And where does the black hawk have 2 engines and so on ??? That's just about black hack I will not say anything bad - a decent technique.
    3. alone
      alone 7 October 2013 23: 11
      Quote: Forest
      With one engine and a pair of blades, the HB Mohawk was a "flying coffin" -American roulette

      normal should be called normal. to call it a flying coffin is somehow illogical. it’s a pretty decent multi-functional combat helicopter that has served for its country. And is still in demand
      1. Forest
        Forest 8 October 2013 08: 08
        For a person not connected with aviation, this wretchedness is "normal". I described specific shortcomings that were corrected only after 20 years of operation, although they were obvious. Miles immediately (after MI-4) put 2 engines on his turntables, did not save on the lives of aviators , so many thanks to this brilliant designer.
    4. Forest
      Forest 8 October 2013 11: 53
      Interestingly, of the 8 minuses, at least one was related to aviation?
  6. ramin_serg
    ramin_serg 7 October 2013 14: 54
    Stote Respect good

    A pinwheel is gorgeous considering the application history and circulation
  7. Kavtorang
    Kavtorang 7 October 2013 15: 00
    I, having no relation to aviation, recognize this "turntable" from all. Three cult films of theirs: "Platoon", "Apocalypse Now", "Bulletproof Vest" are enough. If the technique, albeit with modifications, has been in service since 1959 - I can only applaud the designer - a legendary helicopter.
    1. 505506
      505506 9 October 2013 07: 28
      Join us!
      And then, Kalashnikov is good (if there are known flaws), and Iroquois is sucks (he’s also African, and any flaw is swollen)
  8. Sashkessss
    Sashkessss 7 October 2013 17: 43
    Immediately I remember this melody at the sight of "Iroquois"
  9. moreman78
    moreman78 7 October 2013 21: 33
    Article PLUS +! Really legendary helicopter, and very successful! No wonder he was so widespread in the world.
  10. usatyi
    usatyi 8 October 2013 00: 39
    Good car ! Had to sit ......
  11. rachel
    rachel 8 November 2017 17: 12
    Good afternoon!
    There is a question for the answer to which I will be extremely grateful. Did Huey and other helicopters fly overnight during the Vietnam War? I do not see lighting systems in the photographs.
    1. Korax71
      Korax71 23 January 2019 21: 30
      Committed. Not only at night, but also in conditions of poor visibility. Since 1965, if I am not mistaken, in summer schools mandatory training included instrument flight training. From the memoirs of the pilots, in order to keep the system in operation at night, it was necessary to approach the leader at a distance of less than one screw diameter or to go with the ceiling.
  12. Hadastus
    Hadastus 4 March 2019 00: 07
    Listen, but the helicopter is great, with a relatively low power engine of approx. 1-1,2 class HP - airborne infantry squad. It turns out that it was possible not only to put a turbine there, but also a piston, for example, an ASh-82 type star? The piston engine is cheaper than the turbine. A piston star and "armored". It would be interesting if the USSR began to make copies of Hye with a piston, because (judging by the article "Aviation against tanks. Part 5"), the Russian "Iroquois" did not work out of the Mi-2. Although it is not very clear why.

    And, it is clear that there are competent people in the discussion, but explain to the neophyte - what is the minus of the two-blade and the advantage of more than a two-blade machine? Two-blades, IMHO, add Huey's incredible charisma, his four-lobed heir, Venom, looks somehow boring. In addition, the smaller the blades, the lower the air resistance and the easier it is for the engine to rotate the screw.

    And it is also interesting why, as a chassis, did the Americans fundamentally put sledges on helicopters, and ours - wheels?