The primary air transportation vehicle for the US Army during the Vietnam War, the Bell Huey served with almost every arm of the US forces during the conflict including:
The Marine Corp - as a close support helicopter troop carrier and gunship
The USAF - inserting and extracting reconnaissance teams and other covert operations
The US Navy - as a heavily armed gunship patrolling the Vietnamese river deltas.
Initially designed for the US Army as a medical evacuation and utility helicopter, the Bell Huey’s ruggedness and adaptability soon saw it deployed as a cargo transport, air assault, search and rescue and ground assault helicopter. As the US airborne workhorse, the Huey was to become the most recognisable symbol of US involvement and interdiction in South East Asia.
Known as ’Slicks’, the ‘short-bodied’ Huey UH-1 was deployed with great success during the opening years of the war deploying and extracting troops across the country but with the escalating conflict, the US Army needed a version that could carry more troops.
In response, the Bell Corporation stretched the fuselage and used the additional space for four extra seats facing outwards. This took the crew and passenger capacity to 15 with the enlarged cabin able to accommodate six stretchers and a medic.
Further modifications included replacing the side sliding doors with two large doors and then dispensing with them altogether allowing the Huey to be flown in a ‘doors-off’; configuration which greatly increased the speed of egress and loading of troops - an important consideration when coming into a ‘hot’ landing field under enemy fire. The ‘doors-off’ configuration also allowed for the deployment of door gunners behind their swivel mounted M60 machine guns.
A later model, the UH-1C or ‘Charlie’ model was fitted with more powerful engines and side-wing pods to carry guns and/or rockets with grenade launchers and automatic cannons also fitted to the nose turret.
The UH-iC’s operated as dedicated attack gunships providing fire support for troops in contact with the Vietcong.The all-gun models were called “Cobras," whilst the rocket-carrying types were called “Hogs”.
As well as providing fire support for ground troops, the UH-1C helicopter gunships escorted the ‘Slick’ transports during all phases of an air assault operation.
It was the task of the Hogs to protect the Slicks during transit, to soften up a landing zone prior to the arrival of the assault force, provide suppressive fire during the actual landing, and cover the withdrawal of the Slicks during pickup of troops.
When the last Bell Huey had lifted off from the US Embassy in Saigon, over 7000 had been deployed across the South East Asian war zone with a further 16,000 being built since 1960.
The Bell Huey has also served with many allied nations across the globe and was also the primary air transportation for Australian troops during the Vietnam conflict.
Its ability to take significant punishment, simple design and ease of repair has also seen the Huey transition into civilian service as an air ambulance firefighter, search and rescue and policing.
All Bell UH-1 Huey Helicopter Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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