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HH-43 Huskie
HH-43 Huskie
Role Firefighting/rescue
Manufacturer Kaman Aircraft
First flight 1947
Status Retired
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy

The Kaman HH-43 Huskie was a helicopter with intermeshing rotors used by the United States Air Force, the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps from the 1950s until the 1970s. It was primarily used for aircraft firefighting and rescue in the close vicinity of air bases, but was later utilized as a short range overland search and rescue aircraft during the Vietnam War. Under the U.S. Navy's pre-1962 aircraft designation system, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps versions were originally designated as the HTK, HOK or HUK, contingent upon their use as training, observation or utility aircraft.

Design and development

In 1947 Anton Flettner, a former German teacher and inventor, was brought to New York in the United States as part of Operation Paperclip.[1] He was the developer of Germany's Flettner Fl 282 "Kolibri" (Hummingbird), a helicopter which employed the "synchropter" principle of intermeshing rotors, a unique design principle which dispenses with the need for a tail rotor. Anton Flettner settled in the United States and became the chief designer of the Kaman company, where he started to design new helicopters, using the Flettner synchropter design.

The Huskie had an unusual intermeshing contra-rotating twin-rotor arrangement with control effected by servo-flaps. The first prototype flew in 1947 and was adopted by the U.S. Navy with a piston-engine. In 1954 in an experiment by Kaman and the US Navy one HTK-1 was modified and flew with its piston engine replaced by two turbine engines becoming the world's first twin turbine helicopter.[2] Later the Air Force adopted a version with one turboshaft engine: HH-43B and F versions.

Operational history

This aircraft saw use in the Vietnam War with several detachments of the Pacific Air Rescue Center, the 33d, 36th, 37th, and 38th Air Rescue Squadrons, and the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, where the aircraft was known by its call sign moniker "Pedro". During Vietnam, the two-pilot HH-43 Huskie flew more rescue missions than all other aircraft combined because of the unique hovering capability. The HH-43 was eventually replaced by newer aircraft in the early 1970s.[3]


A USAF Huskie aids a practice firefighting operation at Cam Ranh Bay AB, Vietnam in 1968. Note the aircraft's jungle camouflage paint scheme.

two two-seat aircraft for evaluation
three-seat production version for the United States Navy, later became TH-43A, 29 built
one example for evaluation by the United States Coast Guard
one example for static tests as a drone
prototype of United States Marine Corps version, two built
United States Marine Corps version powered by a 600 hp R-1340-48 Wasp; later became OH-43D, 81 built
United States Navy version of the HOK-1 with R-1340-52 engine; later became UH-43C, 24 built
USAF version of the HOK-1; later became the HH-43A, 18 built
post-1962 designation of the H-43A
H-43A powered by a 860shp T-53-L-1B, three-seats and full rescue equipment; later became HH-43B, 200-built
post-1962 designation of the H-43B
post-1962 designation of the HUK-1
post-1962 designation of the HOK-1
post-1962 designation of the HTK-1
HH-43B powered by a 825 shp T-53-L-11A with a reduced diameter rotors, 42 built and conversions from HH-43B
One OH-43D converted to drone configuration


State Flag of Iran (1964).svg
United States


HH-43 (no variant designated)
  • Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia has an HH-43A on display.
  • The New England Air Museum has an HH-43A (AF Ser. No. 58-1837) airframe stored.
  • Hill Aerospace Museum at Hill Air Force Base, Utah has an HH-43B on display.[14]
  • The Midland Air Museum in Coventry, England is carrying out a restoration on HH-43B, AF Ser. No. 62-4535. The aircraft is usually viewable on display; 24535 is one of only two examples on display in the UK.
  • The National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio has HH-43B, AF Serial Number 60-0263, on display. It was assigned to rescue duty with Detachment 3, 42nd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico prior to its retirement and flight to the museum in April 1973.[11]
  • The Olympic Flight Museum in Olympia, Washington has an airworthy HH-43B Huskie on display.[15]
  • The Military Firefighter Heritage Display on Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas has a restored HH-43B on display. The tail number displayed after restoration is 58-1481, but should probably be 58-1841 (its number before restoration, and a number corresponding to an HH-43B). This Huskie was a ground trainer (1959–1976) at Sheppard AFB, Texas, so it retained the square-tail empennage that was removed from almost all other Huskies after repeated rotor strikes in heavy winds.
  • The Royal Thai Air Force Museum, Bangkok, Thailand has an HH-43B on display in the open.[16]
  • Castle Air Museum at the former Castle AFB in Atwater, California has an HH-43F, AF Serial Number 62-4513, on display.
  • The New England Air Museum has an HH-43F (AF Ser. No. 60-289)restored and currently in storage.
  • Kirtland AFB has an HH-43, listed as an F-model, on display at the southeast corner of Doris Avenue and Aberdeen Drive (coord: 35.05446,-106.595158). This may be the same aircraft listed on other websites as being located at the National Atomic Museum which has since moved off-base, but adjacent to, Kirtland AFB.
  • The Pima Air and Space Museum, adjacent to Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona, has an HH-43F, AF Ser. No. 62-4531 on display.[17] This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Kaman HOK-1 (OH-43D) Huskie on display at Pima Air & Space Museum

  • The Flying Leathernecks Museum, MCAS Miramar, California displays Bureau Number (BuNo) 139990 in USMC markings. The aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation at NAS Pensacola, Florida. It was previously on display at MCAS Tustin, California, but was moved to MCAS Miramar after MCAS Tustin was closed and NAS Miramar was transferred from control of the Navy to the Marine Corps.
  • The Pima Air & Space Museum adjacent to Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona, displays a HOK-1/OH-43D, BuNo 139974, in USMC markings. This aircraft is also on loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
  • The U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama has a Marine Corps HOK-1/OH-43D, BuNo 138101, in storage. BuNo 138101 was formerly displayed indoors at the National Museum of Naval Aviation at NAS Pensacola, Florida (circa 2000-2001) in a dark blue finish with USMC markings. It was repainted from its original USMC markings to pre-Vietnam U.S. Army colors when it was loaned to the Army by the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
  • The Carolinas Aviation Museum at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, has a HOK-1/OH-43D, BuNo 139990, in Marine Corps markings. The aircraft is currently under restoration.
  • The New England Air Museum has a HOK-1/OH-43D airframe, BuNo 129801, stored.

In addition to museum displays, including the airworthy example at the Olympic Flight Museum, there are also a number of former USAF, USN and USMC Huskies which are in private hands, purchased for agricultural or general operations.

Specifications (HH-43F)

Data from National Museum of the United States Air Force [11]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Four: two pilots, two rescue crew
  • Length: 25 ft 0 in (7.6 m)
  • Main rotor diameter: 2× 47 ft in (14.3 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 2 in (5.18 m)
  • Gross weight: 9,150 lb (4,150 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming T53 turboshaft, 860 hp (640 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 120 mph (190 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 105 mph (169 km/h)
  • Range: 185 miles (298 km)
  • Service ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,620 m)

See also




  1. Boyne, Walter J. (2011). How the Helicopter Changed Modern Warfare. Pelican Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 1-58980-700-6. 
  2. "Twin Turborotor Helicopter." Popular Mechanics, August 1954, p. 139.
  3. "Vietnam Air Losses", Chris Hobson, Midland Publishing, Hinckley, LE10 3EY, UK, c2001, P. 258, ISBN 1-85780-115-6
  4. "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market - Page 49". July 1968. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  5. "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market - Page 50". July 1968. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  6. "IIAF HISTORY". Copyright © 1999-2012 Retrieved 26-January-2013. 
  7. "Iran Air Force HH-43F Huskie". Demand media. Retrieved 26-January-2013. 
  8. "Decommissioned Aircraft PAKISTAN AIR FORCE". Retrieved 26-January-2013. 
  9. "ROYAL (Archives) THAI AIR FORCE". Retrieved 26-January-2013. 
  10. "Kaman HH-43B Huskie (K-600)". Demand media. Retrieved 26-January-2013. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "Fact sheet: HH-43 Huskie." National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved: 17 January 2011.
  12. "Kaman HOK-1 (OH-43D) Huskie US MARINES". Retrieved 26-January-2013. 
  13. "Kaman HUK-1 (UH-43C) Huskie US NAVY". Retrieved 26-January-2013. 
  14. "HH-43B "Huskie" Fact sheet.", 19 October 2010. Retrieved: 26 June 2011.
  15. "HH-43 Huskie." Olympic Flight Museum Collection, Olympia WA. Retrieved: 17 January 2011.
  16. "Building 5: Helicopters and last propeller fighter." Royal Thai Air Force Museum. Retrieved: 17 January 2011.
  17. "Kaman HH-43F Huskie." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: 30 January 2012.
  18. "Tillamook AIR Museum , OR". 
  • Chiles, James R. The God Machine: From Boomerangs to Black Hawks: The Story of the Helicopter. New York: Bantam Books, 2007. ISBN 0-553-80447-2.
  • Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920: Volume II. London: Putnam, 1997. ISBN 0-85177-827-5.
  • Frawley, Gerard. The International Directory of Civil Aircraft, 2003-2004. Fyshwick, Canberra, Act, Australia: Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd., 2003, p. 155. ISBN 1-875671-58-7.
  • Munson, Kenneth. Helicopters and other Rotorcraft since 1907. London: Blandford Publishing, 1968. ISBN 978-0-7137-0493-8.
  • Thicknesse, P. Military Rotorcraft (Brassey's World Military Technology series). London: Brassey's, 2000. ISBN 1-85753-325-9.
  • Wragg, David W. Helicopters at War: A Pictorial History. London: R. Hale, 1983. ISBN 0-7090-0858-9.

External links

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