|Sikorsky S-61R / CH-3 / HH-3 "Jolly Green Giant"|
The S-61R differs significantly in a number of ways from the original S-61, in that it has a more capacious boat-type hull, modified to take a rear loading ramp, while the two sponsons have been replaced by two stub wings set farther back, into which the rear members of the tricycle landing gear retract.
The prototype was built by the company as a private venture and flown with a civil registration on 17 June 1963. However, the USAF had already placed an order with Sikorsky in February of that year for 22 aircraft, designated CH-3C, and they began to receive the first helicopters at the end of 1963. Subsequent orders brought the total number for the USAF to 133.
The CH-3C was used in the Vietnam War for rescuing pilots who had been shot down and came to be nicknamed the "Jolly Green Giant"; it was given more powerful turbines from February 1965 and redesignated CH-3E. The uprated "Green Giant" could carry 26 troops or 15 wounded, or vehicles of equivalent weight, and could also be armed with two Emerson turrets on the leading edges of the two stub wings. Forty-two CH-3Es were built, in addition to which 41 CH-3Cs were modified to this standard. The USAF also asked for specific modifications to be made to this helicopter to meet the demands of the Vietnam War: application of armour; use of supplementary fuel tanks for extended flights; self-sealing internal fuel tanks and a telescopic in-flight refuelling probe. Two of the first aircraft of the 50 to be built in the HH-3E rescue version became famous in 1967 by flying non-stop from New York to Paris (for the Air Show), covering the 6870km journey with nine refuellings by airtankers.
In August 1965, the US Coast Guard ordered a special version of the HH-3 which was given the designation HH-3F Pelican. This paramilitary American rescue service needed an aircraft with all-weather capability, which could safely land on water, and the HH-3F was the ideal solution. The Pelican was virtually identical to the HH-3E, apart from the lack of protection, armament and other military equipment. It had an AN/APN-195 search radar on the port side of the nose. The US Coast Guard received 40 HH-3Fs. The only foreign license-holder for this variant was Agusta, who began producing it in 1974. The 22 aircraft built by Agusta were all delivered to the Italian Air Force as replacements for the old, amphibious Grumman Albatross used for search and rescue missions at sea.
G.Apostolo "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Helicopters", 1984
- Two HH-3Es made the first non-stop transatlantic helicopter flights in 1967, making nine tanker contacts each.
- The first S-61R flew on 17 June 1963, almost one month ahead of schedule.
- The CH-3E could seat up to 30 troops or carry 2270kg of cargo.
- At least nine USAF surplus CH-3Es and HH-3Es were purchased by the US Coast Guard to supplement their 40 HH-3Fs.
- In 1975 CH/HH-3Es became the first helicopters in the US Air National Guard.
- Variants of Sikorsky's S-70 have replaced S-61Rs in US service.
ROBERT WINBLAD, e-mail, 30.11.2023 Charles Miller
I did two tours in Udorn Thailand, 1965-66 and again in summer of 1967.
Raymond Christopher, e-mail, 22.09.2022 Jerry Fletcher
Jerry, Chris. Dave lives just North of Denver, CO.
Anonymous, 13.07.2022 mark harris
All you say about unit cohesiveness is what I observed at Luke, even later at D-M. For years, I had the GREAT privilege of being a long-term "guest intel puke" from AFIS /RE DET 37 just down the road. Always, I was welcomed as one of the family. My ASU ROTC buddy Steve Wright was a CH-3 pilot, who introduced me to the PJs... I jumped most often w / Mike Miles & heroic (!) Jon Hoberg. We often used Luke Aux 1 NW of Luke, as later did the Reserve Army 297th SF (ABN) unit on Oak St - another "band of brothers!" Just for the record, the awful, demoralizing CH-3 accident occurred when A /C #2 in a 2-ship flight out of D-M had its antenna snap & foul the tail rotor, causing an immediate crash. This occurred just NW of TUS near Silverbell by Avra Valley Road. The memorial service at DM was perhaps the somberest and heart-wrenching event I ever attended. Even now... after 30-some years?
Kenton R Brown, e-mail, 13.07.2022 Anonymous
With the conversion to UH-60s (?), the last CH-3 was being prepped for export. I stood on the D-M flight line when the last CH-3 departed for Central America (Honduras) as a FMS deal. No one applauded, and we parachutists would miss the starboard door stand-up departure. Who doesn't hate jumping a UH-1 or HH-60? I watched it until it until it disappeared between the Rincons & Sierra Ritas. A sad day in USAF aviation annuls.