Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe
|A CH-54A carrying a parachute bomb|
|Role||Heavy-lift cargo helicopter|
|First flight||9 May 1962|
|Primary user||United States Army|
The Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe is a twin-engine heavy-lift helicopter designed by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Army. It is named after Tarhe (whose nickname was "The Crane"), an 18th-century chief of the Wyandot Indian tribe. The civil version is the S-64 Skycrane.
The United States Army eventually purchased 105, designating them CH-54. Used in Vietnam for transport and downed-aircraft retrieval, it was highly successful, thanks to the "adaptable" nature of the module system first conceived by General James M. Gavin in his 1947 book Airborne Warfare. Early pods could not carry troops and external sling-loads at the same time; later, pods that could carry both were developed but not acquired. As of 2014[update], it holds the helicopter record for highest altitude in level flight at 11,000 m (36,000 ft), set in 1971 and fastest climb to 3,000 6,000, and 9,000 m (10,000, 20,000, and 30,000 ft).
The Skycrane can hold its cargo up and tight against its center spine to lessen drag and eliminate the pendulum effect when flying forward, as well as winch vehicles up and down from a hovering position, so the helicopter can deploy loads while hovering. Due to budget cuts, the Heavy Lift Helicopter (HLH) program was canceled and the CH-54s not upgraded with larger engines. The Boeing CH-47 Chinook gradually supplemented it in combat and eventually replaced it in Regular Army aviation units, although CH-54 Skycranes remained in Army National Guard service until the early 1990s.
The Soviet Union also created much larger crane helicopters with a similar skeletal design, such as the Mil Mi-10.
Today, Erickson Air-Crane of Central Point, Oregon operates the largest fleet of S-64 helicopters in the world under the name Erickson S-64 Aircrane. These can be equipped with water-dropping equipment (some also have foam/gel capability) for firefighting duties worldwide. After obtaining the type certificate and manufacturing rights in 1992, Erickson remains the manufacturer.
- Preproduction aircraft, six built.
- Production model powered by two 4,500 shp (3,400 kW) Pratt & Whitney T73-P-1 turboshafts, 54 built.
- Heavier version of the CH-54A with two 4,800 shp (3,600 kW) T-73-P-700 turboshafts and twin-wheeled main undercarriage, 37 ordered, 29 built.
- In 1968 Sikorsky proposed a three-engined growth version with upgraded rotor and gearbox. This was not proceeded with but did form the basis for the CH-53E Super Stallion.
A large number of surviving airframes exist in flyable condition as well as in museum collections worldwide.
- Crew: three
- Payload: 20,000 lb (9,100 kilograms; 9.1 tonnes) ()
- Length: 88 ft 6 in (26.97 m)
- Rotor diameter: 72 ft 0 in (21.95 m)
- Height: 25 ft 5 in (7.75 m)
- Disc area: 4071.5 ft² (378.24 m²)
- Empty weight: 19,800 lb (8,980 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 47,000 lb (21,000 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney T73-P-700 turboshaft engines, 4,800 shp (3,580 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 130 kn (150 mph, 240 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 100 kn (115 mph, 185 km/h)
- Range: 200 NM (230 mi, 370 km)
- Service ceiling: 18,330 ft (5,600 m)
- Rate of climb: 1,330 ft/min (6.75 m/s)
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Ohio History Central page on Tarhe
- Taylor 1976, p. 386.
- "FAI Record ID #9918 - Altitude in horizontal flight. Class E-1 (Helicopters), turbine Archived 5 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine." Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Retrieved: 21 September 2014.
- "FAI Record ID #9942 - Time to climb to a height of 3 000 m. Class E-1 (Helicopters), turbine Archived 23 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine." Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 21 September 2014.
- "FAI Record ID #9957 - Time to climb to a height of 6 000 m. Class E-1 (Helicopters), turbine Archived 23 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine.". Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 21 September 2014.
- "FAI Record ID #9960 - Time to climb to a height of 9 000 m. Class E-1 (Helicopters), turbine Archived 24 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine.". Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Retrieved: 21 September 2014.
- Harding 1990, p.243.
- "Helis.com". CH-54B Tarhe. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "S-64 Skycrane (CH-54 Tarhe)". Sikorsky Product History. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "What Is a Helicopter?". nasa.gov. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
- "Sikorsky CH – 54B Skycrane Helicopter". nasa.gov. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
- "Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe Flying crane". www.Military-Today.com. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
- Francillon, René J. (Spring 1991). "The Army Guard's Weightlifter". World Air Power Journal. 5: 36–41.
- Harding, Stephen (1990). U.S. Army Aircraft since 1947. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-102-8.
- Taylor, John W. R. (1976). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1976–77. London: Jane's Yearbooks. ISBN 0-354-00538-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to CH-54 Tarhe (Skycrane).|
- CH-54 U.S. Army Aviation history fact sheet
- CH-54 Skycrane/Tarhe on Global Security.org
- The short film STAFF FILM REPORT 66-2A (1966) is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- The short film STAFF FILM REPORT 66-21A (1966) is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- HELIS.com Sikorsky S-64/CH-54 Database