Tag Archives: Bell Helicopter Company

14 November 1965: Medal of Honor, Major Bruce Perry Crandall, United States Army

Major Bruce Perry Crandall, United States Army
Major Bruce Perry Crandall, United States Army

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to

MAJOR BRUCE P. CRANDALL 
UNITED STATES ARMY
for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Rank and Organization: Major, U.S. Army, Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

Place and dates: Landing Zone X-Ray, Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam, 14 November 1965.

Place and date of birth: Olympia, Washington, 1933.

Lieutenant Colonel Bruce P. Crandall, United States Army (Retired), received the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House, Washington, D.C., 26 February 2008. (U.S. Army)

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Major Bruce P. Crandall distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as a Flight Commander in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). On 14 November 1965, his flight of sixteen helicopters was lifting troops for a search and destroy mission from Plei Me, Vietnam, to Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley. On the fourth troop lift, the airlift began to take enemy fire, and by the time the aircraft had refueled and returned for the next troop lift, the enemy had Landing Zone X-Ray targeted. As Major Crandall and the first eight helicopters landed to discharge troops on his fifth troop lift, his unarmed helicopter came under such intense enemy fire that the ground commander ordered the second flight of eight aircraft to abort their mission. As Major Crandall flew back to Plei Me, his base of operations, he determined that the ground commander of the besieged infantry battalion desperately needed more ammunition. Major Crandall then decided to adjust his base of operations to Artillery Firebase Falcon in order to shorten the flight distance to deliver ammunition and evacuate wounded soldiers. While medical evacuation was not his mission, he immediately sought volunteers and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, led the two aircraft to Landing Zone X-Ray. Despite the fact that the landing zone was still under relentless enemy fire, Major Crandall landed and proceeded to supervise the loading of seriously wounded soldiers aboard his aircraft. Major Crandall’s voluntary decision to land under the most extreme fire instilled in the other pilots the will and spirit to continue to land their own aircraft, and in the ground forces the realization that they would be resupplied and that friendly wounded would be promptly evacuated. This greatly enhanced morale and the will to fight at a critical time. After his first medical evacuation, Major Crandall continued to fly into and out of the landing zone throughout the day and into the evening. That day he completed a total of 22 flights, most under intense enemy fire, retiring from the battlefield only after all possible service had been rendered to the Infantry battalion. His actions provided critical resupply of ammunition and evacuation of the wounded. Major Crandall’s daring acts of bravery and courage in the face of an overwhelming and determined enemy are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Major Bruce Campbell's UH-1D Huey departing LZ X-Ray during the Battle of Ia Drang, 14 November 1965. (U.S. Army)
Major Bruce Campbell’s Bell UH-1D Iroquois, “Ancient Serpent Six,” departing Landing Zone X-Ray during the Battle of Ia Drang, 14 November 1965. (U.S. Army)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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22 October 1956

Bell XH-40 55-4459 with cowlings and rear doors installed. (U.S. Army)
Bell XH-40 55-4459 with stabilizer bar, cowlings and rear doors installed. (U.S. Army)

22 October 1956: Bell Aircraft Corporation Chief Pilot Floyd W. Carlson and Chief Experimental Test Pilot E.J. Smith, make the first flight of the Bell Model 204, XH-40-BF, serial number 55-4459, at the Bell helicopter factory at Hurst, Texas.

Bell XH-40 first flight. (U.S. Army)
Bell XH-40 first flight. (U.S. Army)

The XH-40 was designed with a primary mission of battlefield medical evacuation. It was 42 feet, 8 inches (13.005 meters) long with a main rotor diameter of 44 feet, 0 inches (13.411 meters). Empty weight was 3,693 pounds (1,675 kilograms) with a maximum gross weight of 5,650 pounds (2,563 kilograms).

The prototype XH-40 was powered by a Lycoming LTC1B-1 (XT53-L-1) free-turbine (turboshaft). The engine uses a 5-stage axial-flow, 1-stage centrifugal-flow compressor with a single-stage gas producer turbine and single-stage power turbine. A reverse-flow combustion section with 12 burners allows a significant reduction in the the engine’s total length.  engine with a Maximum Continuous Power rating of 770 shaft horsepower. The Military Power rating was 825 shaft horsepower. It could produce 860 shaft horsepower at 21,510 r.p.m.  At Military Power, the XT53-L-1 produced 102 pounds of jet thrust (0.454 kilonewtons). The power turbine drives the output shaft through a 3.22:1 gear reduction. The T53-L-1 is 3 feet, 11.8 inches (1.214 meters) long and 1 foot, 11.25 inches (0.591 meters) in diameter. It weighs 460 pounds (209 kilograms).

The helicopter had a maximum speed of 138 miles per hour (222 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 17,500 feet (5,334 meters) and its range was 212 miles (341 kilometers).

The Bell XH-40 prototype hovering in ground effect at the Bell Aircraft Company plant at Hurst, Texas. The helicopter's cowlings are not installed in this photograph. (U.S. Army)
The Bell XH-40 prototype hovering in ground effect at the Bell Aircraft Corporation plant at Hurst, Texas. The helicopter’s cowlings and doors are not installed in this photograph. (U.S. Army)

This aircraft was the prototype of what would be known world-wide as the “Huey.” The helicopter was originally designated by the U.S. Army as HU-1, but a service-wide reorganization of aircraft designations resulted in that being changed to UH-1A. Produced for both civil and military customers, it evolved to the Model 205 (UH-1D—UH-1H), the twin-engine Model 212 (UH-1N), the heavy-lift Model 214, and is still in production 60 years later as the twin-engine, four-bladed, glass-cockpit Model 412EPI and the UH-1Y.

Left rear quarter view of the Bell XH-40 hovering in ground effect at the Bell Helicopter Company plant at Hurst, Texas. (U.S. Army)
Left rear quarter view of the Bell XH-40 hovering in ground effect at the Bell Helicopter Company plant at Hurst, Texas. (U.S. Army)

Sources differ as to the date of the first flight, with some saying 20 October, and at least one saying 26 October, but most cite 22 October 1956. This individual aircraft is at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum, Fort Rucker, Alabama. The museum’s director, Robert S. Maxham, informed TDiA that, “The earliest and only historical record cards that we have on 4459 are dated 2 MAY 1958, and at that time the aircraft had 225.8 hours on it.” The Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, a generally reliable source, states the first flight was 22 October 1956.

The earliest contemporary news report yet discovered by TDiA, states,

On October 20, after several hours of ground running, the new Bell XH-40 helicopter was flown for the first time.

FLIGHT and AIRCRAFT ENGINEER, No. 2506, Vol. 71, Friday, 1 February 1957, Page 136, at Column 1

The first prototype Bell XH-40, 55-4459, hovers in ground effect. (U.S. Army)

Beginning in 2015, XH-40 55-4459 was restored by Blast Off, Inc., at Atmore, Alabama. It was then returned to the Army Aviation Museum.

Bell XH-40 55-4459 ready for transport to Blast Off, Inc., 16 June 2015. (The Atmore Advance)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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6 October 1983

A flight of two U.S. Army OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters. (Bell Helicopter)
A flight of two U.S. Army OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters. (Bell Helicopter)

6 October 1983: First flight of the Bell Helicopter Company Model 406/OH-58D Kiowa reconnaissance helicopter. Developed from the earlier Model 206/OH-58A and OH-58C Kiowa, the D model features a four-blade composite main rotor, an upgraded engine and transmission, and improved avionics. The most visible features are the spherical mast-mounted sighting system above the main rotor and much larger engine/transmission cowling, or “dog house.”

The helicopter was designed with very low level, “nap-of-the-Earth,” (NOE) flight, using terrain and trees for cover. The four-bladed rotor provides more lift and increased responsiveness over the two-bladed semi-rigid rotor of the OH-58A and C.

The mast-mounted sight allows the helicopter to hover behind terrain or trees with just the sight exposed. The sight contains television, thermal imaging and laser range-finding and target designation equipment.

The instrument panel of a Bell OH-58D Kiowa. (Bell helicopter)
The instrument panel of a Bell OH-58D Kiowa. (Bell Helicopter)

Operated by two pilots, the Bell OH-58D Kiowa is 42 feet, 2 inches (12.852 meters) long, with rotors turning. The four-bladed composite main rotor has a diameter of 35 feet (10.668 meters). As is customary with American-designed helicopters, the main rotor turn counter-clockwise as seen from above. (The advancing blade is on the right side of the aircraft.) The two-blade semi-rigid tail rotor is mounted on the left side of the tail boom and turns clockwise when seen from the left. (The advancing blade is below the tail boom.) The overall height of the OH-58D is 12 feet, 10–5/8 inches (3.928 meters). Empty weight of the helicopter is about 3,500 pounds (1,588 kilograms), depending on installed equipment. This is approximately 15% greater than the maximum gross weight of the OH-58A. The OH-58D has a maximum gross weight of 5,500 pounds (2,495 kilograms).

Power for the Kiowa is supplied by a Rolls-Royce T703-AD-700A (Allison 250-C30R3) turboshaft engine which produces 750 shaft horsepower. The main transmission is limited to transient input of 637 shaft horsepower.

The helicopter can be armed with a fixed, remotely-fired, M3P .50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine gun, a pod carrying seven 2.75-inch (70 mm) rockets, or two AGM-114 Hellfire antitank guided missiles.

The OH-58D has a cruise speed of 95 knots (109 miles per hour/176 kilometers per hour) when armed. Its range is 140 nautical miles (161 miles/259 kilometers). The hover ceiling in ground effect (HOGE) at +15 °C. is 7,500 feet MSL (2,286 meters).

An OH-58D Kiowa decelerates as it approaches trees at Fort Lewis, Washington.( U.S. Army)
An OH-58D Kiowa decelerates as it approaches trees during gunnery exercises at Fort Lewis, Washington. A .50-caliber machine gun is mounted on the left side of the helicopter. (U.S. Army)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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2 October 1970

The very first UH-1N, 68-10772, photographed in March 2012. (© Ralph Duenas. Photograph used with permission.)
The very first U.S. Air Force UH-1N Iroquois, 68-10772, photographed March 2012. (© Ralph Duenas. Photograph used with permission.)

2 October 1970: The U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida (Eglin AFB Auxiliary Field #9), took possession of the very first Bell UH-IN Iroquois, UH-1N-BF 68-10772 (Bell Helicopter Co. serial number 31001).

Also known as the “Twin Huey,” the medium-lift helicopter is a two-engine version of the Bell Model 205 (UH-1H). Originally developed for the Canadian Forces as the Bell Model 212, the UH-1N is powered by a Pratt & Whitney T400-CP-400 (the military designation for the commercial PT6T-3 “Twin-Pac”) which consists of two PT6 turboshaft engines mated to a combining gearbox to drive a single output shaft to the helicopter’s main transmission. The combined unit can produce a maximum 1,800 shaft horsepower. If one engine fails, the remaining engine can operate at 900 shaft horsepower for 30 minutes. The T400 is de-rated to the main transmission limit of 1,134 shaft horsepower.

This Bell UH-1N, 69-6650, assigned to Kirtland AFB, has been in service for more than 40 years. It just passed 15,000 total flight hours. (U.S. Air Force)
This Bell UH-1N, 69-6650, assigned to Kirtland AFB, has been in service for more than 45 years. It passed 15,000 total flight hours in March 2011. (U.S. Air Force)

The helicopter has other improvements over the Model 205/UH-1D/H Huey. The main rotor blades have a wider chord, producing greater lift. The main transmission is rated for greater power input. The tail boom and tail rotor pylon are strengthened, and the tail rotor has been moved to the opposite side of the pylon, in a tractor configuration instead of the previous pusher configuration. The tail rotor blade rotation is reversed with the advancing blade moving upward into the down flow of the main rotor, making it more efficient. Visual differences are the streamlined nose and the reshaped “dog house” covering the twin engine installation.

Cockpit of a U.S. Air Force/Bell UH-1N Iroquois during a 60° bank. (A1C Nigel Sandridge, U.S. Air Force)
Cockpit of a U.S. Air Force/Bell UH-1N Iroquois during a 60° right bank. (A1C Nigel Sandridge, U.S. Air Force)

The U.S. Air Force normally operates the UH-1N with two pilots and a flight engineer, but it can be flown by a single pilot under visual weather conditions, if necessary. It is capable of transporting up to 12 passengers in addition to the three-man crew.

The Bell Helicopter Co. UH-1N Iroquois (Model 212) is 57 feet, 3 inches (17.450 meters) long, with a main rotor diameter of 48 feet, 0 inches (14.630 meters) and tail rotor diameter of 8 feet, 6 inches (2.591 meters). The overall height of the helicopter is 12 feet, 10 inches (3.912 meters) and the fuselage has a maximum width of 9 feet, 5 inches (2.870 meters). The helicopter’s empty weight is approximately 6,000 pounds (2,722 kilograms), depending on installed equipment. The maximum takeoff weight is 10,500 pounds (4,763 kilograms).

The helicopter’s cruise speed is 110 knots (127 miles per hour/204 kilometers per hour) and the maximum speed is 130 knots (150 miles per hour/240 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling is 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) with the gross weight below 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms), otherwise the altitude is restricted to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). The maximum range is more than 300 miles (483 kilometers).

U.S. Air Force Bell UH-1N Iroquois helicopters deploy security personnel. (U.S. Air Force)
U.S. Air Force Bell UH-1N Iroquois helicopters deploy security personnel. (U.S. Air Force)

The UH-1N can be armed with GAU-16 .50-caliber machine guns or GAU-17 7.62mm “miniguns.”

The UH-1N is operated by the Air Force, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, as well as many foreign military services. In civil use, the Bell 212 is the most common medium lift helicopter worldwide and has been for 45 years.

Of the 79 UH-1N helicopters ordered by the U.S. Air Force in 1968, 59 remain in active service (as of September 2015).

As of 1 October 2013, the Air Force planned to keep the UH-1N in service for at least another ten years.

This rear quarter view of UH-1N-BF 68-10776 of the 40th Helicopter Squadron, flying across Montana, shows the two exhaust ducts of the PT6T-3 Twin Pac. This helicopter, Bell serial number 31005, was the fifth UH-1N built. (U.S. Air Force)
Bell UH-1N-BF 69-6615, 40th Helicopter Squadron, in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. (Senior Airman Eydie Sakura, U.S. Air Force)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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30 September 1982

H. Ross Perot, Jr. and Jay W. Coburn with Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II, N3911Z, after their 29-day around-the-world flight. (© Bettman/Corbis)

30 September 1982: H. Ross Perot, Jr. and Jay W. Coburn completed their around-the-world helicopter flight when they landed Spirit of Texas at their starting point at Dallas, Texas. They had flown the single-engine Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II, serial number 45658, civil registration N3911Z, more than 26,000 miles (41,843 kilometers) in 246.5 flight hours over 29 days, 3 hours and 8 minutes.

They had begun their journey 1 September 1982. Perot and Coburn traveled across twenty-six countries. They established a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) record for helicopter speed around the world, eastbound, having averaged 56.97 kilometers per hour (35.399 miles per hour). (Class E-1d, FAI Record File Number 1254). They also established a series of point-to-point records while enroute, with the highest speed, an average of 179.39 kilometers per hour (111.47 miles per hour), taking place on 7 September 1982, while flying Spirit of Texas from London to Marseilles (FAI Record File Number 10018).

The Bell Helicopter Company Model 206L-1 LongRanger II is a 7-place light helicopter developed from the earlier 5-place Model 206B JetRanger series. It is designed to be flown by a single pilot in the right front seat, and is certified for Visual Flight Rules.

The 206L-1 is 42 feet, 8 inches (13.005 meters) long, overall, and the two-bladed main rotor is semi-rigid and under-slung, a common feature of Bell’s main rotor design. It has a diameter of 37 feet (11.278 meters) and turns counter-clockwise (seen from above) at 394 r.p.m. (100% NR). (The advancing blade is on the helicopter’s right side.) The rotor blade has a chord of 1 foot, 1.0 inches (0.330 meter) and 11° negative twist. The blade tips are swept.

The two-bladed tail rotor assembly is also semi-rigid and is positioned on the left side of the tail boom in a pusher configuration. It turns clockwise, as seen from the helicopter’s left. (The advancing blade is below the axis of rotation.) The tail rotor diameter is 5 feet, 6.0 inches (1.676 meters).

The LongRanger II is powered by an Allison 250-C28B turboshaft engine. This engine produces 500 shaft horsepower but is de-rated to 435 horsepower, the limit of the main transmission. The engine is mounted above the roof of the fuselage, to the rear of the main transmission. Output shafts lead forward to the transmission and the tail rotor drive shaft aft to the tail rotor 90° gear box. The transmission and rotor mast are mounted angled slightly forward and to the right. This assists in the helicopter’s lift off to a hover, helps to offset its translating tendency, and keeps the passenger cabin in a near-level attitude during cruise flight.

A vertical fin is attached at the aft end of the tail boom. The fin is offset 4° to the right to unload the tail rotor in cruise flight. Fixed horizontal stabilizers with an inverted asymmetric airfoil are attached to the tail boom. In cruise flight, these provide a downward force that keeps the passenger cabin in a near-level attitude. Vertical fins are attached to the outboard ends of the horizontal stabilizers and above the tailboom centerline. The fins are slightly offset to the left and counteract the helicopter’s Dutch roll tendency.

The helicopter has an empty weight of approximately 2,160 pounds (979 kilograms), depending on installed equipment, and the maximum gross weight is 4,050 pounds (1,836 kilograms).

The Model 206L LongRanger first flew in 1974 and the 206L-1 LongRanger II variant entered production in 1978. It was replaced several years later by the 206L-3. The LongRanger remains in production as the Model 206L-4.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 09.44.55Perot had purchased the LongRanger II for $750,000, specifically for this flight. Modifications started immediately and over the next three weeks an additional 151-gallon fuel tank was added giving the helicopter approximately 8 hours’ endurance. “Pop-out floats”—inflatable pontoons that can be deployed for emergency landings on water—were installed. The helicopter also carried a life raft and other emergency equipment and supplies. Additional communication, navigation equipment and radar was installed.

Spirit of Texas aboard a container ship.
N3911Z aboard a container ship.

During the circumnavigation, the helicopter burned 56,000 pounds (25,400 kilograms) of jet fuel and made 56 fueling stops, including aboard a pre-positioned container ship in the North Pacific Ocean.

The helicopter was donated to the Smithsonian Institution and is on display at the Steven V. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum.

Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II s/n 45658, N3911Z, “Spirit of Texas,” on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. (NASM)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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