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 21 April 1953
Retired Early 1970s
Status Retired
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Marine Corps
United States Navy
Number built 193

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 used as a short-range overland search and rescue aircraft during the Vietnam War.

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[edit]

In 1947 Anton Flettner, a German aviation engineer, 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 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 with a 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.[2] The Air Force later adopted a version with one turboshaft engine: HH-43B and F versions.

Operational history[edit]

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.[3]


A USAF Huskie aids a practice firefighting operation at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, Vietnam in 1968
company designation from HTK-1/TH-43E
proposed civilian counterpart of HOK-1[4]
civilian counterpart of H-43B[4]
company designation of HOK-3 development[4]
two two-seat aircraft for evaluation
three-seat production version for the United States Navy, later became TH-43E, 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 radial piston engine; later became OH-43D, 81 built
proposed development powered by a Blackburn-Turbomeca Twin Turmo 600 turboshaft engine.[4]
United States Navy version of the HOK-1 with R-1340-52 radial piston 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 860 shp Lycoming T-53-L-1B turboshaft engine, 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 turboshaft engine 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).svg
 United States

Surviving aircraft[edit]

In addition to those on static display and the airworthy example at the Olympic Flight Museum, many H-43s are still in use with private owners.[citation needed]

United Kingdom
United States
Kaman HOK-1 (OH-43D) Huskie on display at Pima Air & Space Museum (March 2006)

Specifications (HH-43F / K-600-5)[edit]

Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1965-66,[5] National Museum of the United States Air Force : Kaman HH-43B Huskie[14]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 flight crew + 2 rescue crew
  • Capacity: 3,970 lb (1,801 kg) maximum payload
  • Length: 25 ft 2 in (7.67 m) fuselage
  • Height: 15 ft 6.5 in (4.737 m) to tip of highest blade
12 ft 7 in (4 m) to top of rotor pylons
  • Empty weight: 4,620 lb (2,096 kg)
  • Gross weight: 6,500 lb (2,948 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 9,150 lb (4,150 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 350 US gal (291 imp gal; 1,325 l)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming T53-L-11A turboshaft engine, 825 shp (615 kW) (de-rated from 1,150 shp (858 kW))
  • Main rotor diameter: 2× 47 ft 0 in (14.33 m)
  • Main rotor area: 3,470.34 sq ft (322.405 m2)
  • Blade section: - root: NACA 23012; tip: NACA 23011[43]


  • Maximum speed: 120 mph (190 km/h, 100 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 110 mph (180 km/h, 96 kn)
  • Range: 504 mi (811 km, 438 nmi) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m) and 8,270 lb (3,751 kg) TOW
  • Service ceiling: 23,000 ft (7,000 m)
  • Hover ceiling IGE: 20,000 ft (6,096 m)
  • Hover ceiling OGE: 16,000 ft (4,877 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,800 ft/min (9.1 m/s)

See also[edit]

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
  4. ^ a b c d Bridgman, Leonard, ed. (1958). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1958-59. London: Jane's All the World's Aircraft Publishing Co. Ltd. pp. 320–321.
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External links[edit]