Piasecki-Vertol CH-21C Workhorse - Pima ASM, Tucson, AZ
Posted by: kb7ywl
N 32° 08.379 W 110° 52.107
12S E 512406 N 3555922
Quick Description: Piasecki-Vertol CH-21C Workhorse s/n 56-2159
Location: Arizona, United States
Date Posted: 3/24/2012 9:50:01 AM
Waymark Code: WME253
The Piasecki H-21 Workhorse/Shawnee is an American helicopter, the fourth of a line of tandem rotor helicopters designed and built by Piasecki Helicopter (later Boeing Vertol). Commonly called the "flying banana", it was a multi-mission helicopter, utilizing wheels, skis, or floats.
The H-21 was originally developed by Piasecki as an Arctic rescue helicopter. The H-21 had winterization features permitting operation at temperatures as low as -65 degrees F, and could be routinely maintained in severe cold weather environments.
Piasecki Helicopter designed and successfully sold to the US Navy a series of tandem rotor helicopters, starting with the HRP-1 of 1944. The HRP-1 was nicknamed the "flying banana" because of the upward angle of the aft fuselage that ensured the large rotors did not hit each other in flight. The name would later be applied to other Piasecki helicopters of similar design, including the H-21.
In 1949, Piasecki proposed the YH-21A Workhorse to the USAF, which was an improved, all-metal derivative of the HRP-1. Using two tandem fully articulated three-bladed counter-rotating rotors, the H-21 was powered by one 9-cylinder Curtis-Wright R-1820-103 Cyclone supercharged 1,150hp/858kW air-cooled radial engine. After its maiden flight in April 1952, the Air Force ordered 32 H-21A SAR models and 163 of the more powerful H-21B assault transport variant. The H-21B was equipped with an uprated version of the Wright 103 engine, developing 1,425shp/1,063kW, and featured rotor blades extended by 6in/152mm. With its improved capabilities, the H-21B could carry 22 fully equipped infantrymen, or 12 stretchers, plus space for two medical attendants, in the medevac role. With its Arctic winter capabilities, the H-21A and H-21B were put into service by both the USAF and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to maintain and service DEW (Distant Early Warning) radar installations stretching from the Aleutian Islands and Alaska across the Canadian Arctic to Greenland and Iceland.
The uprated 1425hp Wright engine used in the H-21B was also used in subsequent variants sold to both the US Army (as the H-21C Shawnee) and the military forces of several other nations. In 1962, the H-21 was redesignated the CH-21 in US Army service.
In 1959 Vertol Aircraft, who had acquired Piasecki, came up with a concept for heavy lift over short distances where between two to six H-21Bs would linked by beams to lift heavy loads. It was considered to be unsafe, because if one helicopter had mechanical problems during the lift it could cause an unbalanced situation and cause all helicopters to crash.
In 1956, seeking a way to use helicopters in a ground attack role in the Algerian War, the French Air Force and French Army Aviation (ALAT, Aviation Légère de l'Armée de Terre) experimented with arming the Sikorsky S-55, then being superseded in service by the more capable Piasecki H-21 and Sikorsky H-34 helicopters. Some French Air Force and Army aviation H-21C helicopters were subsequently armed with fixed, forward-firing rockets and machine guns. A few even had racks for bombs, but tests subsequently determined that the H-21C lacked the maneuverability and performance needed in the ground-attack role. The H-21C was far more successful as a troop transport, and most H-21Cs in service were eventually fitted with flexible door-mounted guns such as the 50-cal Browning machine gun or the (ex-German) MG 151/20 20mm aircraft cannon for defensive use when landing assault forces under fire.
Though the H-21 had been removed from the ground attack role, official Army evaluations at the time indicated that the type was actually more likely to survive multiple hits by ground fire than was the Sikorsky CH-34; this was assumed to be a consequence of the location and construction of the CH-34's fuel tanks. By the close of the Algerian War, troop-carrying H-21C helicopters were being used in concert with H-34 ground-attack helos in large-scale counterinsurgency operations.
The H-21C saw extensive service with the US Army, primarily for use in transporting troops and supplies. On 24 August 1954, with the assistance of in-flight refueling provided by a US Army U-1A Otter, a H-21C known as Amblin' Annie became the first helicopter to cross the United States nonstop. Various experiments were made by the Army in arming the H-21C as a gunship; some Shawnees were armed with flex guns under the nose, while others were fitted with door guns. One experimental version was tested stateside with a Boeing B-29 Superfortress 50-cal remote turret mounted beneath the nose. The H-21C (later designated CH-21C) was first deployed to Vietnam in December 1961 with the Army's 8th and 57th Transportation Companies, in support of ARVN (Army Republic South Vietnam) troops. In Army aviation service, the CH-21C Shawnee could be armed with 7.62mm/.308in or 12.7mm/.50in flexible door guns. Relatively slow, the CH-21's unprotected control cables and fuel lines proved vulnerable to the enhanced threat posed by NVA and Viet Cong ground forces, which were increasingly well supplied with automatic small arms and heavy (12.7mm) AA machine guns. The shooting down of a CH-21 Shawnee near the Laotian-Vietnamese border with the death of four Army aviators in July 1962 were the Army's first Vietnam casualties. Despite these events, the Shawnee continued in service as the Army's helicopter workhorse in Vietnam until 1964 when it was replaced with the UH-1 Huey. In 1965, the CH-47 Chinook was deployed to Vietnam, and later that year, most CH-21 helicopters were withdrawn from active inventory in the US Army and Air Force.
Type of Aircraft: (make/model): Piasecki-Vertol CH-21C Workhorse
Tail Number: (S/N): s/n 56-2159
Construction:: original aircraft
Location (park, airport, museum, etc.): Located at Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ
inside / outside: outside
Pima Air & Space Museum
6000 E Valencia Rd
Tucson, Arizona 85756
Open 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Daily
Last admittance at 4:00 PM
$12.50-Pima Co Residents
FREE---Children 6 & under
Photo of aircraft (required - will be interesting to see if the aircraft is ever repainted or progress if being restored)
Photo of serial number (required unless there is not one or it is a replica)
Photo(s) of any artwork on the aircraft (optional but interesting)
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