Military Wiki
YHO-4 / YOH-4
YOH-4A LOH in flight
Role Observation/scout helicopter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Bell Helicopter
First flight 8 December 1962[1]
Primary user United States Army
Number built 5[2]
Variants Bell 206A

The Bell YOH-4 (originally YHO-4) was a single-engine, single rotor, light helicopter developed for the United States Army's Light Observation Helicopter program. While the YOH-4A was unsuccessful in the original LOH competition, Bell redesigned it as the sleek Bell 206A JetRanger for the commercial market, and enjoyed instant and lasting success. In 1967, the Army reopened the LOH competition, and the 206A-based OH-58 Kiowa was selected.


On 14 October 1960, the United States Navy solicited responses from 25 aircraft manufacturers to a request for proposals (RFP) on behalf of the Army for the Light Observation Helicopter (LOH). Bell entered the competition along with 12 other manufacturers, including Hiller Aircraft and Hughes Tool Co., Aircraft Division.[3] In January 1961, Bell submitted Design 250 (D-250), which would eventually be designated as the YHO-4.[4] On 19 May 1961, Bell and Hiller were announced as winners of the design competition.[note 1][5]



Bell produced five prototypes of the D-250, as Model 206, in 1962, the first prototype making its maiden flight on 8 December 1962.[1] That same year, all aircraft began to be designated according to the new Joint Services designation system, so the prototype aircraft were redesignated YOH-4A.[1] The YOH-4A also became known as the Ugly Duckling in comparison to the other contending aircraft.[6] Following a flyoff of the Bell, Hughes and Fairchild-Hiller prototypes, the Hughes OH-6 was selected in May 1965.[7]

After the failed military contract bid, Bell attempted to market the Model 206, but it did not fare well at all commercially. Bell's market research showed that customers found the body design mostly unpalatable. Bell would eventually redesign the body of the airframe to a more sleek and aesthetic design and reintroduced it as the Bell 206A JetRanger.[8]


OH-58 Kiowa

Bell 206 powered by a 250shp T63-A-5 for Army evaluation, five built later re-designated YOH-4A
YHO-4s re-designated.


United States


The remaining OH-4A is in non-display storage at the Army Aviation Museum, Fort Rucker, Alabama.

The data plate identifies the aircraft as Bell Model 206, serial number 4 and the customer model as OH-4A, serial number 62-4201.

Specifications (OH-4A)

Data from U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947[2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 pilot
  • Capacity: up to 3 passengers or 2 stretchers
  • Length: 38 ft 8 in (11.79 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 33 ft 3 in (10.13 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 10 in (2.69 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,536 lb (697 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 2,537 lb (1,150 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Allison T63-A-5 turboshaft, 250 shp (186 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 117 knots (135 mph, 217 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 96 knots (111 mph, 179 km/h)
  • Range: 246 nmi (283 mi, 455 km)
  • Service ceiling: 20,000 ft (6,100 m)

See also


  1. The Navy, which was assisting the Army in the selection phase, recommended the Hiller Model 1100, while the Army team preferred the Bell D-250, and then the 1100. The Selection Board accepted both aircraft for an evaluation test. Afterwards, the acting Army Chief of Staff directed the Selection Board to include the Hughes 369 in the fly-off competition.
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Johan Visschedijk (16 October 2003). "Bell 206 JetRanger". 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Harding, Stephen (1997). U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947. Atglen, PA, USA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd.. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-933424-53-1. 
  3. Remington, Steve. "The Cessna CH-1 Helicopter".
  4. Beechy, Robert. "U.S Army Aircraft Acquisition Programs". Uncommon Aircraft 2006. 18 November 2005. Accessed on 19 September 2006.
  5. Spangenberg, George A. George A. Spangenberg Oral History. Judith Spangenberg-Currier, ed. pp.187-190. Accessed on 29 April 2008.
  6. Aastad, Andy. "The Introduction to the JetRanger". Rotor Magazine. Helicopter Association International. Winter 2006-2007. Accessed on 5 April 2009.
  7. Spenser 1998, p. 263.
  8. "American Helicopter Museum: Bell 206 JetRanger". 
  • Spenser, Jay P. "Bell Helicopter". Whirlybirds, A History of the U.S. Helicopter Pioneers. University of Washington Press, 1998. ISBN 0-295-98058-3.

External links

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