Under the aircraft designation system used by the U.S. Navy pre-1962, Navy and U.S. Marine Corps versions were originally designated as the HTK, HOK or HUK, for their use as training, observation or utility aircraft, respectively.
Design and development
In 1947 Anton Flettner, a German aviation engineer, was brought to New York in the United States as part of Operation Paperclip. He was the developer of Germany's Flettner Fl 282 "Kolibri" (Hummingbird), a helicopter employing the "synchropter" principle of intermeshing rotors, a unique design principle that dispenses with the need for a tail rotor. Flettner settled in the US and became the chief designer of the Kaman company, where he designed new helicopters using the synchropter principle.
The Huskie had an unusual intermeshing contra-rotating twin-rotor arrangement with control effected by servo-flaps. The first prototype flew in 1947 and was adopted by the US Navy as the HTK-1 with a 240 hp (180 kW) Lycoming O-435-4flat-six piston engine. In 1954, in an experiment by Kaman and the US Navy, one HTK-1 was modified and flew with its piston engine replaced by two turbine engines, becoming the world's first twin-turbine helicopter. A much more powerful 600 hp (450 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp radial piston engine was used for the far heavier HOK-1, HUK-1, and H-43A versions for the Marines, Navy, and Air Force, respectively. The Air Force later adopted versions with a single turboshaft engine: the HH-43B and HH-43F.
This aircraft saw use in the Vietnam War with several detachments of the Pacific Air Rescue Center, the 33d, 36th, 37th, and 38th Air Rescue Squadrons, and the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, where the aircraft was known by its call sign "Pedro". During the war, the two-pilot HH-43 Huskie flew more rescue missions than all other aircraft combined, because of its unique hovering capability. The HH-43 was eventually replaced by newer aircraft in the early 1970s.
58-1841 – HH-43F on static display at the Military Firefighter Heritage Display at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. It is incorrectly painted with Air Force Serial Number 58-1481. This Huskie was a ground trainer (circa 1962–1976) at Sheppard Air Force Base, so it retained the square-tail empennage that was removed from almost all other Huskies after repeated rotor strikes in heavy winds. After being sold by the military, but before arriving at its current location, it was on display at the Pate Museum of Transportation in Cresson, Texas.