In the 1950s, Bell Helicopter developed a turbine-engine powered utility tactical transport helicopter for the U.S. Army. This helicopter, then known as the XH-40, first flew in prototype form in 1956. When it entered service with the U.S. Army a few years later, it was the world’s first production helicopter with a turbine engine and it received the official U.S. Army designation of HU-1. This resulted in the nickname of “Huey” and the name stuck, even though the name was officially changed to UH-1B in 1962. This created one of the great helicopter designs of all time, as well as the helicopter forever linked with the Vietnam War. It also spawned a long list of descendants, including the Bell 205 A-1, which is a stretched version of the Bell 204B and the commercial counterpart to the original “Huey.” Compared to the original Huey, the 205 had an upgraded transmission, a higher takeoff gross weight and various system improvements. Its military counterpart is the UH-1D and subsequent models.
The Bell 205 A-1 is a medium single-engine turbine helicopter. It has a two-bladed teetering rotor derived from the rotor originally developed for the Bell 47 by Art Young. The blades are made of aluminum alloy. The engine used for this helicopter is a Honeywell (formerly Lycoming) T5313A. A two-bladed tail rotor provides directional control. The fuselage is made of conventional aluminum alloys and is mounted on a fixed skid gear. The cabin features two pilot seats up front and a passenger or cargo cabin behind. It has a flat floor and two very large sliding doors to provide ready access to every part of the cabin. When used for passenger transport, it can seat up to 13. When used for cargo, it can carry up to 4,000 pounds internally and up to 5,000 pounds externally.
Numerous upgrades have been developed for this helicopter, including a more powerful engine and the upgraded rotor system found on the Bell 212. These modifications improve the hot and high capability of this helicopter significantly. When these modifications are installed, this helicopter is known as a Bell 205 A1+ or a 205 A1++.
Development of the commercial derivative of the UH-1D was started around 1967 and FAA certification was obtained in 1968. The helicopter was in production from 1968 to 1980 and, during this time, approximately 330 were manufactured. In addition, an unknown number of equivalent military UH-1s have been converted to civilian duty. These helicopters operate in the restricted category but are just as useful in the firefighting, logging and external lift missions for which this helicopter is now used.