CH-37 Mojave
HR2S-1 Deuce
H-37 Mojave of the US Army in flight.
Role Cargo helicopter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft
First flight 18 December 1953
Introduction July 1956
Retired Late 1960s
Status Retired
Primary users United States Army
United States Marine Corps
Number built 154[1]
Developed into Sikorsky S-60
Westland Westminster

The Sikorsky CH-37 Mojave (company designation S-56) is an American large heavy-lift military helicopter of the 1950s. It entered service as the HR2S-1 Deuce with USMC in 1956, and as the H-37A Mojave with the U.S. Army that same year. In the early 1960s the designation was standardized to CH-37 for both services, with the HR2S-1 redesignated as CH-37C specifically.

Developed in the early 1950s with its first flight in 1953, it filled a 1950 Navy requirement for an assault helicopter. The design includes a front loading ramp with side opening clam shell doors on the nose. It is powered by two radial piston engines. It served well into the 1960s in active military service including in Indochina before being replaced, and many ex-military models went onto civilian service in the 1970s. This was the biggest helicopter in the world to enter service at the time, and one of the earliest twin engine models. It was known for being noisy but earned a good reputation for reliability. The Navy also adapted it to carry a naval radar, with two entering service as HR2S-1W.

The design lead to a production attempt as the Westland Westminster in the United Kingdom; prototypes were produced, but it did not go into full production. The S-56 was also the basis for the S-60 Skycrane helicopter prototype.

Design and development

Loading a Dodge WC
HR2S-1 with M422 Mighty Mite

The S-56 came into being as an assault transport for the United States Marine Corps (USMC), with a capacity of 26 fully equipped Marines. An order for the aircraft was placed in 1951 using the U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps designation of the time of HR2S. The first prototype, the XHR2S-1 flew in 1953 and production deliveries of the HR2S-1 began in July 1956 to Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1), with a total of sixty aircraft being produced.

It was called HR2S-1 Duece in the USMC service.[2]

The United States Army evaluated the prototype in 1954 and ordered 94 examples as the CH-37A, the first being delivered in summer 1956. All Marine Corps and Army examples were delivered by mid-1960. Army examples were all upgraded to CH-37B status in the early 1960s, being given Lear auto-stabilization equipment and the ability to load and unload while hovering. In the 1962 unification of United States military aircraft designations, the USMC examples were redesignated from HR2S-1 to CH-37C.

At the time of delivery, the CH-37 was the largest helicopter in the Western world and it was Sikorsky's first twin-engine helicopter. Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engines were mounted in outboard pods that also contained the retractable landing gear. This left the fuselage free for cargo, which could be loaded and unloaded through large clamshell doors in the nose. The early models could carry a payload of either three M422 Mighty Mites (a lightweight jeep-like vehicle) or 26 troops. For storage, the main rotor blades folded back on the fuselage and the tail rotor mast folded forward on the fuselage.[3]

The CH-37 was one of the last heavy helicopters to use piston engines, which were larger, heavier and less powerful than the turboshaft engines subsequently employed in later military helicopters. This accounted for the type's fairly short service life, all being withdrawn from service by the late 1960s, replaced in Army service by the distantly related CH-54 Tarhe and in the Marine Corps by the CH-53 Sea Stallion.

Four CH-37Bs were deployed to Vietnam in September 1965 to assist in the recovery of downed U.S. aircraft, serving in this role from Marble Mountain Air Facility until May 1967.[4] They were very successful at this role, recovering over US$7.5 million worth of equipment, some of which was retrieved from behind enemy lines. The CH-37 was also used to recover film capsules descending from space by parachute.[5]

A total of 154 were produced by the time production ended. Of those 94 were H-34A, and 90 H-34 were converted to H-34B (later CH-34A and B respectively). It was the largest piston powered helicopter.[1]


XHR2S-1 of the USMC
HR2S-1W early warning helicopter
CH-37 Mojave attempting to lift a crashed Piasecki H-21
Prototype Assault Transport for the US Marine Corps, powered by two 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) R-2800-54 engines, four built.
Production model for USMC with modified engine nacelles, twin mainwheels and dorsal fin, redesignated CH-37C in 1962, 55 built (order for additional 36 cancelled).
Airborne early warning aircraft for the US Navy, two built.
One HR2S-1 helicopter evaluated by the US Army.
H-37A Mojave
Military transport version of the HR2S for the US Army, changes included dorsal fin and modified rotor head fairing, redesignated CH-37A in 1962, 94 built.
H-37B Mojave
All but four of the H-37As were modified with a redesigned cargo door, automatic stabilization equipment and crashproof fuel cells. Later redesignated CH-37B.
H-37A redesignated in 1962.
H-37B redesignated in 1962.
HR2S-1 redesignated in 1962.
Sikorsky company designation for H-37.

Derivatives and related projects

Sikorsky S-60
a prototype "sky-crane" with a skeletal fuselage with a crew cockpit at the front.
Westland Westminster
Unable to get government support for licence production of the civil S-56, Westland Aircraft used the S-56 control systems, rotors and gearbox as the basis for the Westminster but used their own tubular frame and twin 2,900 hp (2,200 kW) Napier Eland turboshafts for power in a flying test rig. Due to vibration they changed to a six-bladed S-64 rotor. The private venture project was ended when Westland took over three British helicopter companies and their more advanced and funded projects.


 United States

United States Army[6]

United States Marine Corps[6][7][8]

HMR(M)-461 1957–1966
HMR(M)-462 1957–1965
HMR(M)-463 1958–1959


Closeup of the engine nacelle housing the Wasp radial engine at museum

Specifications (CH-37 Mojave)

3-view line drawing of the Sikorsky CH-37A Mojave
3-view line drawing of the Sikorsky CH-37A Mojave

Data from U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947[12]

General characteristics


See also

Related development

Related lists


  1. ^ a b "Sikorsky Aircraft S-56 (H-37 / CH-37 Mojave) – Specifications – Technical Data / Description". Retrieved 23 May 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Vertical rewind: The original heavy lifter". Vertical Mag. 21 September 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2024.
  3. ^ "Three Jeeps Ride in the Marine Corps Biggest Helicopter". Popular Mechanics. Vol. 101, no. 6. Hearst Magazines. June 1954. p. 93. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  4. ^ Fails, William (1978). Marines and Helicopters 1962–1973 (PDF). History and Museums Division United States Marine Corps. pp. 119–20. ISBN 978-1482313598.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ "S-56/HR2S-1/H-37 Helicopter". sikorskyarchives. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Sikorsky CH-37 Mojave review". olive Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  7. ^ "H-37 Mojave / HR2S". Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  8. ^ "Marines and Helicopters 1946–1962" (PDF). History and Museums Division,US Marine Corp. p. 79. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  9. ^ "Our Collection". United States Army Aviation Museum. 20 March 2023. Retrieved 22 May 2024.
  10. ^ "Sikorsky CH-37B". Pima Air & Space. Retrieved 22 May 2024.
  11. ^ "Warbird Registry – Sikorsky CH-37 Mojave – A Warbirds Resource Group Site". Retrieved 22 May 2024.
  12. ^ Harding 1990, p.239.
  13. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  14. ^ Swanborough and Bowers p. 437.