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Sikorsky H-34 / CH-34 Choctaw Transport / Close-Support Helicopter (1954)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/14/2014

The Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw served with the USAF, US Army, USMC, USN and the USCG during its tenure in American hands.

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The H-34 Choctaw was a multi-purpose, radial-powered utility helicopter produced by Sikorsky in the United States. It was developed as a replacement for the similar Korean War-era UH-19 Chickasaw series of helicopters and designed from the outset as an Anti-Submarine Platform for use by the United States Navy. Its operational capabilities eventually led to its use by the United States Army, United States Air Force, the United States Marine Corps and the United States Coast Guard. The Choctaw also went on to prove a commercial success, being fielded in the ranks by no fewer than 27 foreign partners including some limited license production of the type. The Choctaw saw notable service in the Vietnam War. First flight of the system was achieved on March 8th, 1954.

Visibly, the Choctaw wasn't going to win any design awards based on looks alone. It was a far cry from being the best looking of Cold War creations but it was an vast upgrade from the utilitarian approach of the H-19 Chickasaw before it. Design of the H-34 was stout, featuring a large set rounded nose with a raised flightdeck. The pilot and co-pilot sat in their raised positions ahead of the powerplants and above and forward of the passenger/cargo cabin. Entry into the system was provided for by a large rectangular access door (sliding aft) located on the starboard side of the lower fuselage. The underside of the fuselage maintained a predominantly straight appearance, giving the Choctaw its unique profile. The undercarriage was fixed and consisted of two main landing gears supported by exposed struts and a single tail wheel. The main landing gear systems were positioned just forward of the passenger cabin and fitted with a large single wheel each. Power was generally supplied by a Wright R-1820-84 Cyclone radial engine delivering up to 1,525 horsepower and driving a four-bladed main rotor and a four-bladed tail rotor. While the operational crew amounted to two personnel, the cabin had space for up to 16 combat-ready troops, 18 passengers or 8 medical litters. A top speed of 123 miles-per-hour was listed as was a range of 182 miles.

The Choctaw lived a long service live under many guises beginning as the HSS-1 "Seabat" for the United States Navy (in its Anti-Submarine Warfare role). This was coupled with the similar HUS-1 "Seabat" utility transport. The "Seabat" series consisted of US Navy Choctaws built to anti-submarine warfare specifications initially appearing as three Sikorsky S-58 models for evaluation as XHSS-1 prototype systems. The XHSS-1 then became the YHSS-1 before ultimately being re-designated to YSH-34G. The first production models became the HSS-1 "Seabat". The HSS-1N "Seabat" was of note as it was a dedicated bad weather/night version fitting improved autopilot and avionics systems. Seabats fell under the designation of SH-34 beginning in 1962.

The "Seahorse" series was operated primarily by the US Marine Corps and the US Coast Guard. These were noted by their designation of "HUS" as in the HUS-1, HUS-1A, HUS-1G, HUS-1L and the HUS-1Z. These eventually became the UH-34 "Seahorse" series beginning in 1962. The United States Coast Guard operated the Choctaw from 1959 through 1962.


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Specifications for the
Sikorsky H-34 / CH-34 Choctaw
Transport / Close-Support Helicopter


Focus Model: Sikorsky H-34A / CH-34A Choctaw
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Sikorsky Aircraft - USA / Westland - UK / Sud-Aviation - France
Initial Year of Service: 1954
Production: 1,800


Crew: 2 + 18


Length: 56.69 ft (17.28 m)
Width: 56.00 ft (17.07 m)
Height: 15.91ft (4.85 m)
Weight (Empty): 7,899 lb (3,583 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 13,999 lb (6,350 kg)


Powerplant: 1 x Wright R-1820-84 radial engine developing 1,525 horsepower and driving a four-bladed main rotor and a four-bladed tail rotor.


Maximum Speed: 123 mph (198kmh; 107 kts)
Maximum Range: 182 miles (293km)
Service Ceiling: 9,498 ft (2,895 m; 1.8 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet per minute (0 m/min)


Hardpoints: 2
Armament Suite:
Various - dependent upon on mission parameters.

As a gunship, the Choctaw was fitted with:

2 x M60C General Purpose Machine Guns
2 x 19-shot 2.75" rocket pods


Variants:
H-34A - US Army Variant; fitted with R-1820-84 engine of 1,525 horsepower; 359 examples produced; 21 Army models sent to US Navy; re-designated to CH-34A beginning in 1962.


JH-34A - Developmental H-34A model used in weapons testing.

VH-34A - Staff Transport Model based on the H-34A/CH-34A.

H-34B - Based on H-34A/CH-34A production models with subtle changes; re-designated to CH-34B beginning in 1962.

H-34C - Based on H-34B/CH-34B production models with subtle changes; redesignated to CH-34C beginning in 1962.

JH-34C - Developmental Model based on H-34C/CH-34C used in weapons testing.

VH-34C - Staff Transport Model based on the H-34C/CH-34C.

HH-34D - Choctaws given USAF serial numbers for transfer under the Mutual Defense Assistance Act.

LH-34D - Re-designated from HUS-1L beginning in 1962.

UH-34D - Re-designated from HUS-1 beginning in 1962; at least 54 production examples appeared as "new-build" models.

VH-34D - Re-designated from HUS-1Z beginning in 1962; staff transport model.

UH-34E - Re-designated from HUS-1A beginning in 1962.

HH-34F - Re-designated from HUS-1G beginning in 1962.

YSH-34G - Re-designated from YHSS-1/XHSS-1 beginning in 1962.

SH-34G - Re-designated from HSS-1 beginning in 1962.

SH-34H - Re-designated from HSS-1F beginning in 1962.

YSH-34J - Re-designated from YHSS-1N beginning in 1962.

SH-34J - Re-designated from HSS-1N beginning in 1962.

UH-34J - Based on the SH-34J; sans Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) equipment; utility transport and trainer model.

HH-34J - Former USN models now utilized by the USAF.

VH-34J - Based on the SH-34J; staff transport model.

XHSS-1 "Seabat" - US Navy evaluation Choctaws; three examples delivered as such; later re-designated to YHSS-1 then becoming the YSH-34G beginning in 1962.

HSS-1 "Seabat" - Anti-Submarine Warfare platform for use by the USN; 215 examples produced; re-designated to SH-34G beginning in 1962.

HSS-1F "Seabat" - Developmental Model based on HSS-1; fitted with 2 x General Electric YT-58-GE engines; re-designated to SH-34H beginning in 1962.

YHSS-1N "Seabat" - Single Prototype Model; HSS-1 converted to HSS-1N; re-designated to SH-34H beginning in 1962.

HSS-1N "Seabat" - Bad Weather/Night Model based on HSS-1; fitted with revised autopilot system and avionics suite; 167 examples produced; re-designated to SH-34J beginning in 1962.

HUS-1 "Seahorse" - USMC Transport Model based on the HSS-1; 462 examples produced; re-designated to UH-34D beginning in 1962.

HUS-1A "Seahorse" - Amphibious Conversion Model fitted with pontoons; 40 examples produced; becoming the UH-34E beginning in 1962.

HUS-1G "Seahorse" - USCG model based on the HUS-1; six total examples produced; re-designated to HH-34F beginning in 1962.

HUS-1L "Seahorse" - Antarctic Conversion Models; four examples converted in this fashion; re-designated to LH-34D beginning in 1962.

HUS-1Z "Seahorse" - VIP Passenger Transport; 7 HUS01 models converted as such; re-designated to VH034D beginning in 1962.

S-58 - Commercial Cargo Transport Model

S-58B -Commercial Cargo Transport Model

S-58C - Commercial Utility Model

S-58D - Commercial Utility Model

S-58T - Commercial Passenger Transport with turboshaft engines.

S-58 "Heli-Camper" - Commercial Passenger Transport; fitted with Wright Cyclone R-1820-24 engines.

Orlando Airliner - Commercial Transport Transport with seating for 18.

Westland Wessex - British license-production Choctaws as used by the Royal Navy in the ASW.


Operators:
Argentina; Australia; Belgium; Brazil; Cambodia; Canada; Chile; Taiwan; Costa Rica; France; Germany; Greece; Haiti; Indonesia; Italy; Iran; Israel; Japan; Katanga; Laos; Nicaragua; Philippines; Peru; South Vietnam; Spain; Turkey; Thailand; United States; Uruguay