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Dawn of naval helicopters



It was the dawn of the Cold War. The previous global conflict had led to unprecedented new developments in technology. Helicopters were used in World War II. A hundred Sikorsky R-4s were created for search and rescue, seeing service in Alaska, Burma, and other theatres with unpassable terrain. By that war’s end, over 400 helicopters had been produced[1].

Today, helicopters are used for transportation both of people and cargo; it can be used for construction, medical, agriculture, tourism, news and media, aerial observation, firefighting, search and rescue, law enforcement, and of course among many other things- military use. The helicopter was born during the dark days of World War II, where both Axis and Allied forces developed them. But it was during the Cold War, where the world stood at the cataclysms of destruction where it matured. It was only through its service during the Korean War where this technology was put through the crucible of fire. It was also during this period that the first turbine helicopter came into existence. At the urging of his contacts at the Department of the Navy, Charles Kaman would modify his K-225 synchropter into the world’s first gas turbine-powered helicopter.

One of the earliest developments of rotary naval aviation was the HUP-1. The Piasecki H-25 Army Mule/HUP Retriever was a compact single radial engine, twin overlapping tandem rotor utility helicopter [2]. It was the winning entry in a design competition by the U.S. Navy for a compact utility/rescue helicopter. The HUP-1 was to operate from cruisers, aircraft carriers, and event battleships. The initial prototype flew in 1948. It entered service with the navy in 1949, just before the Korean War.

The story of the HUP-1 is only one aspect of the first flashpoint between East and West, the United States and the Soviet Union. Though the consequences of that history still lingers, the story of the Korean War remains largely untold. For this history of human sacrifice and heroism, as the free world stood at the gates of the iron curtain is a great travesty, one that the Pacific Battleship Center hopes to be a part of a larger effort to rectify.

More than half a century has passed since the Inchon Landings. Before that generation’s heroes fade away, we hope to help keep their memories alive, and to preserve their histories for the future. History MUST not be forgotten, the story of the Korean War MUST not fade away.

In support of our efforts, this blog will chronicle the development of naval helicopters, the story of the Korean War, and how helicopters were in service on the IOWA itself. Your contributions will not only assist to help future generations understand the sacrifices of past patriots, but will also help to forever maintain a portion of our nation’s past.










General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 pilots
  • Capacity: 4 passengers
  • Length: 56 ft 11 in (17.35 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m)
  • Disc area: 1,924 ft² (179 m²)
  • Empty weight: 3,928 lb (1,782 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,750 lb (2,608 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 6,100 lb (2,767 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental R-975-46A radial, 550 hp (410 kW)