Kaman HH-43 Huskie

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HH-43 Huskie
Kaman HH-43B Huskie USAF.jpg
HH-43 Huskie
Role Firefighting/rescue
Manufacturer Kaman Aircraft
First flight 1947
Status Retired
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy

The Kaman HH-43 Huskie was a helicopter with intermeshing rotors used by the United States Air Force, the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps from the 1950s until the 1970s. It was primarily used for aircraft firefighting and rescue in the close vicinity of air bases, but was later utilized as a short range overland search and rescue aircraft during the Vietnam War. Under the U.S. Navy's pre-1962 aircraft designation system, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps versions were originally designated as the HTK, HOK or HUK, contingent upon their use as training, observation or utility aircraft, respectively.

Design and development

In 1947 Anton Flettner, a former German teacher and inventor, was brought to New York in the United States as part of Operation Paperclip.[1] 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 United States and became the chief designer of the Kaman company, where he started to design 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 U.S. Navy with a piston-engine. In 1954, in an experiment by Kaman and the U.S. 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.[2] Later the Air Force adopted a version with one turboshaft engine: HH-43B and F versions.

Operational history

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 moniker "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.[3]


A USAF Huskie aids a practice firefighting operation at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Vietnam in 1968. Note the aircraft's jungle camouflage paint scheme.
two two-seat aircraft for evaluation
three-seat production version for the United States Navy, later became TH-43A, 29 built
one example for evaluation by the United States Coast Guard
one example for static tests as a drone
prototype of United States Marine Corps version, two built
United States Marine Corps version powered by a 600 hp R-1340-48 Wasp; later became OH-43D, 81 built
United States Navy version of the HOK-1 with R-1340-52 engine; later became UH-43C, 24 built
USAF version of the HOK-1; later became the HH-43A, 18 built
post-1962 designation of the H-43A
H-43A powered by an 860shp T-53-L-1B, three-seats and full rescue equipment; later became HH-43B, 200-built
post-1962 designation of the H-43B
post-1962 designation of the HUK-1
post-1962 designation of the HOK-1
post-1962 designation of the HTK-1
HH-43B powered by an 825 shp T-53-L-11A with reduced diameter rotors, 42 built and conversions from HH-43B
One OH-43D converted to drone configuration


One of 12 HH-43 Huskies acquired by Imperial Iranian Air Force in 1965
A Thai Kaman HH.34B at the Royal Thai Air Force Museum (2014)
State Flag of Iran (1964-1980).svg
 United States


HH-43 (no variant designated)
A USAF Huskie at the Olympic Flight Museum (October 2014)
Kaman HOK-1 (OH-43D) Huskie on display at Pima Air & Space Museum (March 2006)
  • The Flying Leathernecks Museum, MCAS Miramar, California displays Bureau Number (BuNo) 139990 in USMC markings. The aircraft is on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum at MCAS Pensacola, Florida. It was previously on display at MCAS Tustin, California, but was moved to MCAS Miramar after MCAS Tustin was closed and NAS Miramar was transferred from control of the Navy to the Marine Corps.
  • The Pima Air & Space Museum adjacent toDavis–Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, displays a HOK-1/OH-43D, BuNo 139974, in USMC markings. This aircraft is also on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum.
  • The U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama has a Marine Corps HOK-1/OH-43D, BuNo 138101, in storage. BuNo 138101 was formerly displayed indoors at the National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola, Florida (circa 2000-2001) in a dark blue finish with USMC markings. It was repainted from its original USMC markings to pre-Vietnam U.S. Army colors when it was loaned to the Army by the National Naval Aviation Museum.
  • The Carolinas Aviation Museum at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, has a HOK-1/OH-43D, BuNo 139990, in Marine Corps markings. The aircraft is currently under restoration.
  • The New England Air Museum has a HOK-1/OH-43D airframe, BuNo 129801, stored.

In addition to museum displays, including the airworthy example at the Olympic Flight Museum, there are also a number of former USAF, USN and USMC Huskies which are in private hands, purchased for agricultural or general operations.

Specifications (HH-43F)

Data from National Museum of the United States Air Force [12]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Four: two pilots, two rescue crew
  • Length: 25 ft 0 in (7.6 m)
  • Main rotor diameter: 2× 47 ft in (14.3 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 2 in (5.18 m)
  • Gross weight: 9,150 lb (4,150 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming T53 turboshaft, 860 hp (640 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 120 mph (190 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 105 mph (169 km/h)
  • Range: 185 miles (298 km)
  • Service ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,620 m)

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


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  2. "Twin Turborotor Helicopter." Popular Mechanics, August 1954, p. 139.
  3. "Vietnam Air Losses", Chris Hobson, Midland Publishing, Hinckley, LE10 3EY, UK, c2001, P. 258, ISBN 1-85780-115-6
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External links

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