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. Thus was born 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 UH-1H, which is a stretched version of the UH-1B with an upgraded transmission, a higher takeoff gross weight, stronger engine and various system improvements. Its commercial counterpart is the Bell 205 series.
The Bell UH-1H 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) T5313B. 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 behind them is the passenger or cargo cabin. It has a flat floor and two very large sliding doors 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 the Huey II. Development of the stretched UH-1B (the UH-1D) was started In 1961 and the UH-1H, a further upgrade of the UH-1D, was first delivered in 1967. It was in production for some 20 years and, during this time, over 3,500 were built. When used commercially, these helicopters operate in the restricted category but are popular in the firefighting, logging and external lift missions.