Bell H-13 Sioux

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This article is about the military versions of the Bell 47 models. For the civil versions, see Bell 47.
H-13 Sioux
Bell 47-OH-13 inflight bw.jpg
An OH-13 in flight
Role Light observation helicopter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Bell Aircraft / Bell Helicopter
First flight 8 December 1945 (Bell 47 prototype)[1]
Status Retired
Primary users United States Army
United States Air Force
United States Navy
British Army
Number built At least 2,407
Developed from Bell 47
Variants Bell H-13J Sioux
Bell XH-13F
Developed into Bell 207 Sioux Scout

The Bell H-13 Sioux was a two-bladed, single engine, light helicopter built by Bell Helicopter. Westland Aircraft manufactured the Sioux 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.[2]

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.[3] The Coast Guard procured two of Bell's Model 47G and designated them HUL-1G in 1959.[3]

The H-13 was used as an observation helicopter early in the Vietnam War, before being replaced by the 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. competitors aircraft, Westland licensed the Model 47 from Agusta, who had purchased a license from Bell.[4] 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.[5]


Evacuation of wounded soldier in a H-13, Korea, 1951

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),[6] 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.[5]



An H-13 with med-evac panniers
[note 1][7] 28 Bell 47A helicopters procured by the United States Army Air Forces for evaluation. The YR-13 was powered by a 175 hp (130 kW) Franklin O-335-1 piston engine. 10 of the aircraft were evaluated by the U.S. Navy as trainers.
3 YR-13 aircraft winterized for cold-weather testing in Alaska. Redesignated YH-13A in 1948.[8]
US Navy equivalent of the commercial Model 47D. 12 built.
US Navy equivalent of the commercial Model 47E, powered by a 200 hp (149 kW) Franklin 6V4-200-C32 engine. Nine built.
65 aircraft ordered in 1948 by the U.S. Army.[8] All Army versions were later named Sioux.
One H-13B used as engineering testbed. Fitted with skid undercarriage and open, uncovered tailboom.[8]
16 H-13B aircraft converted to carry external stretchers in 1952, with skid landing gear and open tail boom of YH-13C.[8]
Army two-seat version based on commercial model 47D-1, with skid landing gear, stretcher carriers, and Franklin O-335-5 engine. 87 built.[8]
H-13D configuration with three-seat aircraft with dual controls. 490 built.[8]
XH-13F/Bell 201 
Modified Bell 47G powered by a Continental XT51-T-3 (Turbomeca Artouste) turboshaft.[8] The first Bell helicopter powered by a turbine engine.
Three-seater based on commercial model 47-G. Introduced a small elevator on the tailboom. 265 delivered to US Army.[9]
Based on 47G-2. Equipped with a 250 hp (186 kW) Lycoming VO-435 engine. At least 453 acquired by US Army.[9] UH-13Hs were used by the U.S. Air Force.
Two Bell 47J-1 Rangers acquired by the U.S. Air Force for VIP transport of the U.S. President. Originally designated H-13J.
Two converted H-13Hs with a larger diameter rotor and a 225 hp (168 kW) Franklin 6VS-335 engine for test evaluation.
Originally designated as the Navy HTL-4.
Utilized a Lycoming O-335-5 engine.
Incorporated a small movable elevator. Originally designated as the Navy HTL-6.
Originally the HUL-1G, it was used by the U.S. Coast Guard for search and rescue.
Powered by an Allison YT63-A-3 turbposhaft engine. Original US Navy designation HUL-1M.
Three-seat observation helicopter based on 47G-3B to replace the OH-13H. 265 received by US Army.[9]
Two-seat instrument trainer for the U.S. Army based on the 47G-3B-1, powered by 270 hp (201 kW) Lycoming TVO-435-D1B. 411 purchased.[9]
Sioux AH.1
General purpose helicopter for the British Army, 50 built by Agusta (Agusta-Bell 47G-3B1) and 250 built by Westland (Westland-Agusta-Bell 47G-3B1).[10] A small number also used by 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron of the Royal Marines.
Sioux HT.2
Training helicopter for the Royal Air Force, 15 built by Westland.
Texas Helicopter M74 Wasp
Texas Helicopter Corporation conversion of OH-13E helicopters for agricultural use, powered by 200 hp (150 kW) Lycoming TVO-435-A1E engines.
Texas Helicopter M74A
Texas Helicopter Corporation conversion of OH-13H helicopters for agricultural use, powered by 240 hp (180 kW) Lycoming TVO-435 engines.
Texas Helicopter M79S Wasp II
Texas Helicopter Corporation conversion for agricultural use, powered by 270 hp (200 kW) Lycoming TVO-435 engines.
Texas Helicopter M79T Jet Wasp II
Texas Helicopter Corporation conversion of Bell 47G helicopters for agricultural use, powered by 420 hp (310 kW) Soloy-Allison 250-C20S engines.


Australian Army A1 Bell 47G Sioux (A1-398) used for training at RAAF Base Wagga.
An H-13 at the War Museum in Athens, Greece.
A RNZAF Sioux in 2009
 New Zealand
 South Yemen
Agusta Sioux AH.1 of the British Army Historic Flight.
 United Kingdom
 United States


An H-13 in M*A*S*H paint scheme at Pueblo Museum.
An H-13 on display at the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul.
  • The South Carolina Military Museum in Columbia SC has The first H-13B airframe for that production run came off the line in mid-July 1948 and was assigned serial number 1, tail number 48-796.

Specifications (Sioux AH.1)[edit]

Bell 47 Drawing.svg

Data from Newark Air Museum,[43] Britains Small Wars.[44]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 3
  • Length: 31 ft 7 in (9.63 m)
  • Main rotor diameter: 2× 37 ft 0 in (11.3 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 8 in (2.95 m)
  • Gross weight: 2952 lb (1339 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming TVO-435-A1A, 260 hp (194 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 105 mph (169 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 84 mph (135 km/h)
  • Range: 273 miles (439 km)
  • Service ceiling: 16100 ft (4907 m)


  • The OH-1 was capable of carrying twin M37C.30 caliber machine guns, or twin M60 machine guns.[45] They rarely did so however, because according to a Military Channel documentary on the AH-1 attack helicopter ("World's Deadliest Aircraft" series), the guns' recoil was too great a strain on the engines.

Popular culture[edit]

A late-model Bell 47G in M*A*S*H paint scheme.

The Bell 47 appeared, and played key roles, in film and television productions. It has been associated with both the M*A*S*H film, and the television series, as well the Whirlybirds TV series (1957–1959).[46][47]

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ In the military of the United States, the Bell 47 carried several designations prior to 1962. R-13 was the first designation by the United States Army Air Forces, while the Navy designated their training version as HTL. In 1948, the United States Air Force changed the designation to H-13 which was also adopted by the Army, adding the name Sioux. The Navy and Coast Guard designated utility models as HUL. In 1962, under a joint designation system created by the Department of Defense, the designations for all of the helicopters were changed to a mission symbol followed by the vehicle type designator creating a two-letter prefix (OH, UH, XH, etc.), but the Bell 47 retained its original series number, 13 and the Army's popular name. To denote different models, a letter suffix was appended to the designation.



  1. ^ Gunston American, p. 117.
  2. ^ Donald, David, ed. "Bell Model 47". The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. Barnes & Nobel Books, 1997. ISBN 0-7607-0592-5.
  3. ^ a b Pearcy, Arthur (1989). A History of Coast Guard Aviation. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-261-3. 
  4. ^ James 1991, p. 55.
  5. ^ a b c "westland sioux — Helicopter Database". Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  6. ^ Arthur M. Young. Arthur Young on the Helicopter (Part 2) (YouTube). Arthur M. Young. Event occurs at 10:15 to 11:45. Archived from the original (YouTube) on December 10, 2010. Retrieved April 8, 2016. 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. 
  7. ^ Derek Bridges. "U.S. Military Aircraft and Weapon Designations". Archived from the original on 6 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Harding 1990, p. 30.
  9. ^ a b c d Harding 1990, p. 31.
  10. ^ James 1991, pp. 484–485.
  11. ^ "Argentine Army Aviation". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market – 1968". Flight International. p. 48. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  13. ^ "Argentina – Coast Guard". Demand media. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "AAF Bell OH-13H Sioux (47)". Demand media. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market – 1968 "B"". Flight International. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "Bell 47G HTL-6". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market – 1968 Pg 50". Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  18. ^ a b c d "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market – 1968 Pg 51". Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  19. ^ "Deutsches Museum". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market – 1968 Pg 52". Flight International. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  21. ^ "Greece Air Force Bell-47G". Demand media. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  22. ^ "Italian Air Force Bell-47G". Demand media. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  23. ^ a b c d e "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market – 1968 Pg 53". Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  24. ^ "Tentara Udara Diraja Malaysia Bell 47-G". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  25. ^ "Malta Air Force Aircraft Types". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  26. ^ "B47G-3B-2 Sioux". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market – 1968 Pg 54". Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  28. ^ "World Air News: Peruvian Navy Bells". Air Pictorial. Vol. 25 no. 2. February 1963. p. 41. 
  29. ^ "South Arabia and Yemen, 1945–1995". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  30. ^ a b c d "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market – 1968 Pg 55". Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  31. ^ "RTAF history" (PDF). Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  32. ^ "Thai Bell-OH-13H-Sioux". Demand media. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  33. ^ FLIGHT International. 23 November 1972. p. 754. 
  34. ^ "Bell H-13 Sioux Helicopter -USAF". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  35. ^ "US Army OH-13". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  36. ^ "Monthan Memories". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  37. ^ "USCG History aircraft". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  38. ^ a b c "FlightGlobal World Helicopter Market – 1968 Pg 60". Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  39. ^ "World Air Forces 1975 pg 314". Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  40. ^ [1]
  41. ^ [2]
  42. ^ "Building 5: Helicopters and last propeller fighter". Royal Thai Air Force Museum. 
  43. ^ "Newark Air Museum — Westland Sioux AH.1". Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  44. ^ "Britains Small Wars". Archived from the original on 31 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  45. ^ U.S. Helicopter Armament Subsystems
  46. ^ "M*A*S*H". Retrieved 6 April 2016. 
  47. ^ "Whirlybirds". Retrieved 12 April 2016. 


  • Donald, David (1997). The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY, NY: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 0-7607-0592-5. 
  • Frawley, Gerard (2003). The International Directory of Civil Aircraft, 2003–2004. Fyshwick, ACT, Australia: Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-875671-58-7. 
  • Gunston, Bill (1986). American Warplanes. New York: Crown Publishers Inc. ISBN 0-517-61351-4. 
  • Harding, Stephen (1990). US Army Aircraft since 1947. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-85310-102-8. 
  • Hatch, Paul F. (December 1984). "Air Forces of the World: Zambian Air Force". Air Pictorial. Vol. 46 no. 12. pp. 457–458. 
  • James, Derek N. (1991). Westland Aircraft since 1915. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-847-X. 
  • Mutza, Wayne (1995). H-13 Sioux Mini in Action. Carrollton, TX, USA: Squadron/Signal Publications. ISBN 0-89747-345-0. 
  • Pelletier, Alain J (1992). Bell aircraft since 1935. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-056-8. 
  • Riley, David (February 1958). "French Helicopter Operations in Algeria". Marine Corps Gazette:  21–26. 
  • Shrader, Charles R. (1999). The first helicopter war: logistics and mobility in Algeria, 1954–1962. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-96388-8. 
  • Spenser, Jay P. (1998). Whirlybirds a history of the U.S. helicopter pioneers. Seattle: University of Washington Press in association with Museum of Flight. ISBN 0-295-98058-3. 
  • Taylor, Michael John Haddrick (1989). Jane's encyclopedia of aviation. New York: Portland House. ISBN 0-517-69186-8. 
  • United States, Headquarters Department of the Army, Army Concept Team in Vietnam. Final Report of Essential Load of Scout Helicopters. Saigon, Vietnam: Army Concept Team in Vietnam, 1966.

External links[edit]