The Bell UH-1 Iroquois (nicknamed “Huey”) is the first proper utility helicopter and the last chopper out of Saigon. In this post, we take a look at this iconic chopper.
In the Korean War, the idea of having a flying ambulance became a reality. It was the first battlefield use of helicopters, offering solutions to medical evacuations, pilot rescues, and resupply missions.
In 1954, the US Army would launch a design competition for a new utility and Medevac helicopter.
The vehicle needs to move a payload of 360 kg, for a distance of 365 kilometers, cruising at a speed of 184 kilometers per hour at a service ceiling of 1800 meters.
Many thought this is impossible, but the pioneers at Bell Helicopters thought otherwise. Bell found no real advantage in using piston engines and wanted to use a gas turbine instead. Luckily the army had been funding their own turbine power plant.
The First Hueys were delivered to the army in June 1959, with Bell and the US Army unaware of the fact that they created the most iconic vehicles in history.
Hueys were relatively resilient, being able to take a significant amount of hits from small arms fire up to and including 12.7 mm. machine gun runs and still staying airborne.
However, the crew inside were vulnerable, with a thin aluminum plating providing little to no protection
The Hueys were the workhorse of the army during the Vietnam War. As the war raged on, the army used it for bigger operations, expanding its role far beyond the medevac.
Commanders utilized its multiple variations to directly engage the enemy with gunships, transport soldiers, ammunition, and medical attention efficiently in the jungled-covered landscape of the Vietnam War.