Bell UH-1 Iroquois – Huey 509

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois (unofficially Huey) is a military helicopter powered by a single turboshaft engine, with two-bladed main and tail rotors. The helicopter was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet the United States Army’s requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter in 1952, and it first flew on 20 October 1956. Ordered into production in March 1960, the UH-1 was the first turbine-powered helicopter to enter production for the United States military, and more than 16,000 have been produced worldwide.

The first combat operation of the UH-1 was in the service of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The original designation of HU-1 led to the helicopter’s nickname of Huey. In September 1962, the designation was changed to UH-1, but “Huey” remained in common use. Approximately 7,000 UH-1 aircraft saw service in Vietnam.

In 1952, the Army identified a requirement for a new helicopter to serve as medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), instrument trainer, and general utility aircraft. The Army determined that current helicopters were too large, underpowered, or complex to maintain easily. In November 1953, revised military requirements were submitted to the Department of the Army. Twenty companies submitted designs in their bid for the contract, designated as the XH-40

Huey 509 – Tail Number 72-21509 (UH-1H)

‘Huey 509’ entered into military service in April 1972 and accumulated 559 flying hours in Vietnam Combat Operations with the United States Army 129th Assault Helicopter Company before returning to the United States in February 1973. ‘509’ suffered combat damage on two flights whilst on operations. After returning to the United States the aircraft served with various Army National Guard Units until being placed in long-term storage in Arizona in August 2000. In 2003 the helicopter was acquired by MSS Holdings (UK) Ltd and a two year restoration project was carried out, allowing the aircraft to arrive at its new home near Blackpool, Lancashire on 30th July 2005. Fully restored to flying condition, ‘Huey 509’ found a new role as a flying memorial providing education and entertainment at Airshows, events and Open Days. ‘Huey 509’ is the only flying Vietnam Veteran Huey in the UK.

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