Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe

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CH-54 Tarhe
Sikorsky Skycrane carrying parachute bomb c.jpg
A CH-54A carrying a parachute bomb
Role Heavy-lift cargo helicopter
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft
First flight 9 May 1962
Retired 1991
Status retired
Primary user United States Army
Number built 105
Variants S-64 Skycrane

The Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe is a twin-engine heavy-lift helicopter designed by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Army. It is named after Tarhe (whose nickname was "The Crane"), an 18th-century chief of the Wyandot Indian tribe.[1] The civil version is the S-64 Skycrane.

Development

A CH-54A Tarhe carrying 2 UH-1 Hueys.
CH-54B carrying an M551 Sheridan tank, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama

Initial work on the Sikorsky "sky-crane" helicopters began in 1958 with the piston-engined Sikorsky S-60. The first flight of the turboshaft-powered S-64 Skycrane was on 9 May 1962.[2]

The United States Army eventually purchased 105, designating them CH-54. Used in Vietnam for transport and downed-aircraft retrieval, it was highly successful, thanks to the "adaptable" nature of the module system first conceived by General James M. Gavin in his 1947 book Airborne Warfare. Early pods could not carry troops and external sling-loads at the same time; later, pods that could carry both were developed but not acquired. As of 2014, it holds the helicopter record for highest altitude in level flight at 11,000 m (36,000 ft), set in 1971[3] and fastest climb to 3,000[4] 6,000,[5] and 9,000[6] m (10,000, 20,000, and 30,000 ft).

The Skycrane can hold its cargo up and tight against its center spine to lessen drag and eliminate the pendulum effect when flying forward, as well as winch vehicles up and down from a hovering position, so the helicopter can deploy loads while hovering. Due to budget cuts, the Heavy Lift Helicopter (HLH) program was canceled and the CH-54s not upgraded with larger engines. The Boeing CH-47 Chinook gradually supplemented it in combat and eventually replaced it in Regular Army aviation units, although CH-54 Skycranes remained in Army National Guard service until the early 1990s.

The Soviet Union also created much larger crane helicopters with a similar skeletal design, such as the Mil Mi-10.

Today, Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point, Oregon, operates the largest fleet of S-64 helicopters in the world under the name Erickson S-64 Aircrane. These can be equipped with water-dropping equipment (some also have foam/gel capability) for firefighting duties worldwide. After obtaining the type certificate and manufacturing rights in 1992, Erickson remains the manufacturer.

Variants

Sikorsky Skycrane CH-54B with landing gear modified for soft ground.
YCH-54A
Preproduction aircraft, six built.[7]
CH-54A
Production model powered by two 4,500 shp (3,400 kW) Pratt & Whitney T73-P-1 turboshafts, 54 built.[7]
CH-54B
Heavier version of the CH-54A with two 4,800 shp (3,600 kW) T-73-P-700 turboshafts and twin-wheeled main undercarriage, 37 ordered, 29 built.[8]
S-64B
In 1968 Sikorsky proposed a three-engined growth version with upgraded rotor and gearbox. This was not proceeded with but did form the basis for the CH-53E Super Stallion.[9]

Operators

 United States

Survivors

A large number of surviving airframes exist in flyable condition as well as in museum collections worldwide.

Specifications (CH-54B)

Orthographically projected diagram of the Sikorsky CH-54B Tarhe.

General characteristics

Performance

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists

References

Notes
  1. ^ Ohio History Central page on Tarhe
  2. ^ Taylor 1976, p. 386.
  3. ^ "FAI Record ID #9918 - Altitude in horizontal flight. Class E-1 (Helicopters), turbine Archived 5 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine." Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Retrieved: 21 September 2014.
  4. ^ "FAI Record ID #9942 - Time to climb to a height of 3 000 m. Class E-1 (Helicopters), turbine Archived 23 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine." Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 21 September 2014.
  5. ^ "FAI Record ID #9957 - Time to climb to a height of 6 000 m. Class E-1 (Helicopters), turbine Archived 23 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine.". Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 21 September 2014.
  6. ^ "FAI Record ID #9960 - Time to climb to a height of 9 000 m. Class E-1 (Helicopters), turbine Archived 24 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine.". Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 21 September 2014.
  7. ^ a b Harding 1990, p.243.
  8. ^ "Helis.com". CH-54B Tarhe. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  9. ^ "S-64 Skycrane (CH-54 Tarhe)". Sikorsky Product History. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  10. ^ "What Is a Helicopter?". nasa.gov. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Sikorsky CH – 54B Skycrane Helicopter". nasa.gov. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe Flying crane". www.Military-Today.com. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
Bibliography
  • Francillon, René J. (Spring 1991). "The Army Guard's Weightlifter". World Air Power Journal. 5: 36–41.
  • Harding, Stephen (1990). U.S. Army Aircraft since 1947. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-102-8.
  • Taylor, John W. R. (1976). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1976–77. London: Jane's Yearbooks. ISBN 0-354-00538-3.

External links

  • CH-54 U.S. Army Aviation history fact sheet
  • CH-54 Skycrane/Tarhe on Global Security.org
  • The short film STAFF FILM REPORT 66-2A (1966) is available for free download at the Internet Archive
  • The short film STAFF FILM REPORT 66-21A (1966) is available for free download at the Internet Archive
  • HELIS.com Sikorsky S-64/CH-54 Database
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