Back Cessna CH-1 / YH-41 "Seneca"

Cessna H-41

The Cessna Aircraft Company was founded by Clyde Cessna, who even before World War I was at work in the American aircraft industry. The company ceased operations during the economic depression of the 1930s, but revived vigorously during World War II, when it produced trainers and utility cargo aircraft for the United States Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as the 750 CGA gliders used in that war. Following World War II, Cessna brought out several luxury sporting aircraft, the Models 190 and 195, and also, at the end of 1951, the well-known Model 170.

Cessna first took an interest in helicopters when it acquired the patents and rights owned by Seibel, Seibel himself becoming chief designer of the Cessna Helicopter Division.

This rotorcraft is of all-metal construction, and its lines recall those of Cessna fixed-wing aircraft, while the two-bladed rotor, designed by Seibel, also recalls that of the Seibel helicopter.

The rotor blades are attached to the hub by light-weight stainless steel L-shaped angles, which carry the blades' centrifugal load: the short leg takes up the loads due to blade weight, the long leg the bending load caused by drag. As in the Seibel helicopter, this assembly not only provides angle movement for changing blade pitch but also eliminates trunnions, thrust bearings, hinges, etc. The supercharged engine is placed in the forepart of the fuselage, thus leaving more space for cargo or passengers in the cabin, which is that of a fixed-wing aircraft.

The first prototype flew in July 1953. In 1955 a CH-1 successfully landed on, and took off from Pike's Peak, Colorado, at a height of 4300 metres.

P.Lambermont "Helicopters and Autogyros of the World", 1958

Cessna H-41

Shortly after its 1952 acquisition of the Seibel Helicopter Company, Cessna undertook development of an innovative light helicopter it designated the CH-1. The aircraft made its maiden flight in 1954, and in 1957 the Army purchased ten examples of the advanced commercial model CH-1B for test and evaluation. These machines, serials 56-4236 through -4245, were allocated the designation YH-41.

The YH-41 was of all-metal construction and provided seating for a pilot and up to three passengers in a cabin closely resembling that of one of Cessna's light fixed-wing aircraft. The Seneca was powered by a single nose-mounted 260hp supercharged Continental piston engine driving the two-bladed main and anti-torque rotors via a shaft which passed between the two forward seats.

The Army's evaluation of the YH-41 showed it to be an excellent high altitude performer, though the type's limited payload and rather complex maintenance requirements precluded its large scale procurement by the Army. The ten YH-41’s were eventually relegated to miscellaneous flight test duties, most having to do with high-altitude helicopter operations, and in 1962 the surviving aircraft were redesignated NH-41A’s.

S.Harding "U.S.Army Aircraft since 1947", 1990

Cessna H-41

Technical data for CH-1

Number of seats: 2, engine: 1 x Continental FSO-470-A rated 260hp, rotor diameter: 10.66m, fuselage length: 9.78m, fuselage width: 1.63m, height: 2.53m, gross weight: 1360kg, empty weight: 896kg, max. speed: 195km/h, cruising speed: 160km/h, rate of climb: 351m/min, range: 432km

Cessna H-41

Cessna H-41

Lee Rilea, e-mail, 06.01.2021reply

I am building a model of this bird. Any photos would be much appreciated, especially cockpit and engine

Jim Cavanagh, e-mail, 12.07.2016reply

Could anyone help me fid the Email address for Greg Paige (Above) who is restoring a Cessna Ch-1A. Clicking on his Email did nothing. Doing a bit of research on this aircraft.

Rodolfo, e-mail, 20.08.2010reply

can you send to me more about this helicopter,fotos for exemple.-.

Greg Paige, e-mail, 29.09.2010reply

This is truly a beautiful air craft and I'm very fortunate to be restoring one with a friend of mine for his personal museum.It will look really nice sitting next to the #1 Bell and the number#1 hughes

Mark Shelly, e-mail, 15.11.2010reply

I have a mint condition CH1-C Instrument Flight Familiarization Handbook, published by Cessna Aircraft Company, Military Division, Wichita, Kansas. What is this worth?

David Hatcher, e-mail, 14.12.2010reply

To Greg Paige: interested in knowing about the existence of the #1 bell and #1 hughes. Didn't know if they existed let alone being restored. Please email with any info to

Rob Ransone, e-mail, 31.12.2010reply

I was the flight test engineer at the AFFTC, Edwards AFB, CA, on the USAF stability & control reevaluation of YH-41 S /N 4244, flown between Oct '61 and May 62. The engine was a Continental FSO-526 supercharged reciprocating engine de-rated to 270 HP. Previous Army flight tests showed the aircraft to have a severe left roll and yaw during a throttle chop. This was completely eliminated by the addition of an automatic input to the lateral control system from an engine power sensing device called the engine power trim. The helicopter also had a leaf-spring roll rate damper. We also tested various configurations of this mechanical gyro and its effect upon stability and control. The single rotor had a shock absorber mounted between the rotor blade roots to dampen blade weaving. On one flight at 5000 ft., after a throttle chop, upon recovery we experienced severe vibrations. Bob Baldwin, the test pilot, declared an emergency and immediate return to base. I opened the access panel to the engine to transmission drive shaft, and saw that it was vibrating about 3-inches amplitude, and advices Bob to set down immediately, which he did. Vibration calmed during the autorotation descent, but developed to +3 /-2 gs during the landing flare. The shock absorber had frozen and broke one attachment fitting. The shock absorber unbalanced the main rotor. The stability and control was now acceptable, but turbine-powered helicopters then provided much better performance and simpler maintenance, so the line was terminated.

mike montagne, e-mail, 10.03.2010reply

A very good looking helicopter, too bad the Allison 250 gas turbine was'nt available to at the time.
This helicopter would have probly out lasted the Jet ranger,
and think of the ease of maintenance!

Steve Remington, e-mail, 17.04.2008reply

Check out /cessna.html for a history of the CH-1 program.

Walter Lasher, e-mail, 12.03.2008reply

I took a 8mm movie of one of these landing at the Seattle Worlds Fair in 1962. The first and only one I had ever saw.
Still have the movie.

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