The Bell 47 is the aircraft that started the commercial helicopter industry. It was a product of the genius of Arthur Young, a wealthy engineer and inventor, and the vision of Larry Bell, head of Bell aircraft. Larry Bell realized that after WWII, aircraft manufacturers would need to innovate to stay in business. Thus, when Art Young approached him with his scale models and drawings of a small helicopter with an innovative but very simple two-bladed rotor system, Bell invested in the development of a full-scale prototype. Many books have been written about the development of what became the Model 47. There is considerable dispute as to who gets the honors for development of the first production helicopter—Sikorsky or Bell; however, what is beyond dispute is that when Bell obtained the type certificate for the Bell 47 in May 1946, the commercial helicopter industry was born.
The Bell 47 went through numerous versions, each of which provided an improvement of some sort. One of the more successful models was the Bell 47 G3B series. This model was the first to incorporate a turbocharged engine, which provided a dramatic increase in hot and high performance.
The Bell 47 G3B is a light single-engine piston helicopter that uses Art Young's original two-bladed teetering rotor with metal blades and characteristic “dumbbells.” The engine is a Lycoming TVO 435 B1A turbocharged piston engine. A two-bladed metal tail rotor provides directional control. The cabin seats three (one pilot and two passengers) and is surrounded by a large Plexiglas bubble that gives marvelous visibility. What quickly made this helicopter very popular is that it could do real work and carry two passengers or an external load of up 1,000 pounds.
The Bell 47 G3B was certificated In 196 and remained in production until 1973. During this time, some 750 Bell G3B, G3B1, G3B2 and G3B2As were manufactured.
In 2010, Scott’s Helicopter Services, of Le Sueur, MN, acquired the type certificate from Bell Helicopter. In deference to the vast history of the aircraft, Scott’s has retained the name “Bell 47.”