|An OH-13 over RIAT, 2022|
|Role||Light observation helicopter|
|National origin||United States|
|First flight||8 December 1945 (Bell 47 prototype)|
|Primary users||United States Army|
United States Air Force
United States Navy
|Number built||At least 2,407|
|Developed from||Bell 47|
|Developed into||Bell 207 Sioux Scout|
The Bell H-13 Sioux is an American single-engine light helicopter built by Bell Helicopter and manufactured by Westland Aircraft under license for the British military as the Sioux AH.1 and HT.2.
In 1947, the United States Army Air Forces (later the United States Air Force) ordered the improved Bell Model 47A. Most were designated YR-13 and three winterized versions were designated YR-13A. The United States Army first ordered Bell 47s in 1948 under the designation H-13. These would later receive the name Sioux.
Initially, the United States Navy procured several Bell 47s, designated HTL-1, between 1947 and 1958. The United States Coast Guard evaluated this model, and procured two HTL-1s for multi-mission support in the New York Harbor. The most common U.S. Navy version of the 47 was designated the HTL-4, and dispenses with the fabric covering on the tail boom. The U.S. Coast Guard procured three HTL-5s in 1952 (similar to the HTL-4 but powered by a Franklin O-335-5 engine) and used these until 1960. The Coast Guard procured two of Bell's Model 47G and designated them HUL-1G in 1959.
The H-13 was one of the principal helicopters used by the U.S. Army during the Korean War, with the H-13D variant being the most prevalent. During the war it was used in a wide variety of roles including observation, reconnaissance, and medivac. It was also used as an observation helicopter early in the Vietnam War, before being replaced by the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse in 1966.
The Bell 47 was ordered by the British Army as the Sioux to meet specification H.240, with licensed production by Westland Helicopters. In order to comply with the terms of its licence agreement with Sikorsky Aircraft, which prevented it building a U.S. competitor's aircraft, Westland licensed the Model 47 from Agusta, who had purchased a license from Bell. the first contract was for 200 helicopters. The first 50 helicopters of the contract were built by Agusta at Gallarate in Italy followed by 150 built by Westland at Yeovil. The first Westland Sioux made its maiden flight on 9 March 1965.
The Sioux is a three-seat observation and basic training helicopter. In 1953 the Bell 47G design was introduced. It can be recognized by the full "soap bubble" canopy (as its designer Arthur M. Young termed it), exposed welded-tube tail boom, saddle fuel tanks and skid landing gear. In its UH-13J version, based on the Bell 47J, it had a metal-clad tail boom and fuselage and an enclosed cockpit and cabin.
The H-13 and its military variants were often equipped with medical evacuation panniers, one to each skid, with an acrylic glass shield to protect the patient from wind.
A single 260 hp Lycoming VO-435 piston engine was fitted to the 47G variant. Fuel was fed from two high-mounted external tanks. A single two-bladed rotor with short inertial stabilising minor blades was used on the Sioux.
Data from Newark Air Museum, Britains Small Wars.
Twin machine guns[b]
The H-13 has appeared, and played key roles, in many film and television productions. It has been associated with both the M*A*S*H TV series (1972–1983) and the film of the same name (1970), prominently featuring the H-13 in its opening credits, and played a central role in the series finale, which still holds the record as the highest rated single episode broadcast in America. The series helped popularize the H-13 as the helicopter most people now associate with the Korean War. The H-13 also played a key role in the Whirlybirds TV series (1957–1959).
I thought the bubble was a great idea, and we tried it. It consisted of taking a large sheet of Plexiglas, and a plywood form, cut for the final dimension for the outside of the bubble, then heating the Plexiglas, putting it under the plywood form, letting air pressure come up through the middle, and it would blow just like a soap bubble. And, then we had a gauge saying how far to blow, and when it reached that point, we turned off the air pressure.