Un­li­censed and li­censed

The other Huey pro­duc­ers

Aviation Classics - - CONTENTS - Words: Tim Call­away

The high per­for­mance of the Huey se­ries made it an in­stant suc­cess for Bell in the ex­port mar­ket. De­mand for the type world­wide was such that a num­ber of part­ner com­pa­nies be­gan pro­duc­ing the air­craft un­der li­cence to meet lo­cal needs.

The Huey in its many forms was pro­duced un­der li­cence in Ger­many, In­done­sia, Italy, Ja­pan and Tai­wan meet­ing cus­tomer needs with a whole new set of vari­ants with mod­i­fi­ca­tions to suit lo­cal re­quire­ments. It is also pro­duced in Iran in an un­li­censed ver­sion for use by the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran Army Avi­a­tion, a re­verse en­gi­neer­ing project de­rived from he­li­copters sold to Iran prior to the 1979 revo­lu­tion.


The Luft­waffe and Heer, Ger­man Army Avi­a­tion, re­ceived a to­tal of 352 UH-1DS be­tween Au­gust 1967 and 1981, 13 of which were al­lo­cated to the Bun­des­gren­shutz, the Fed­eral Bor­der Guard in 1976 (now part of the Bun­de­spolizei, the Fed­eral Po­lice). The first two UH-1DS, 70+01 and 70+02, were built by Bell and were fol­lowed by four more as­sem­bled from kits by Dornier in Ger­many. This es­tab­lished the li­cence pro­duc­tion line in Ger­many and 140 more were built for the Luft­waffe, fol­lowed by 204 for Army Avi­a­tion. Aside from ex­ten­sive use the util­ity and trans­port roles, a num­ber of the Ger­man Hueys were also con­fig­ured as Search and Res­cue (SAR) he­li­copters. In­ter­est­ingly, de­spite the des­ig­na­tion Dornier UH-1D, the en­tire Ger­man fleet are in fact UH-1HS, fit­ted with the 1400hp Ly­coming T53-L-13 tur­bine and with the pi­tot head on top of the cabin. The fleet was sub­ject to a Struc­tural Life Ex­ten­sion Pro­gramme (SLEP) as well as an avion­ics and sys­tems up­grade by RUAG Avi­a­tion at their fa­cil­ity in Oberp­faf­fen­hof­fen near Mu­nich, the com­pany be­ing au­tho­rised to main­tain and mod­ify both the mil­i­tary and civil mod­els of the Huey. RUAG still pro­vides deep main­te­nance and over­haul sup­port to the fleet to­day. In 2012, as part of a ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of the armed forces, the Luft­waffe be­gan the trans­fer of its re­main­ing UH-1DS to the Army, the fleet re­duc­ing to 127 ex­am­ples by 2014. Cur­rently, Trans­porthub­schrauber­reg­i­ment (Trans­port He­li­copter Reg­i­ment) THR 30 at Nieder­stet­ten is the last Ger­man Army unit to op­er­ate the type. Aside from their trans­port role, THR 30 also main­tains a de­tach­ment at three other air­fields to pro­vide SAR cover to the whole coun­try. The UH-1D is ex­pected to be re­tired in 2016 and re­placed with the NH-90 TTH.


The In­done­sian Army had pur­chased 16 Bell 205A-1 he­li­copters in 1977 as util­ity trans­ports, mede­vac and armed fire sup­port plat­forms. Twelve of th­ese are still listed as in ser­vice as of 2014, the suc­cess of the type lead­ing to a li­cence agree­ment be­tween Bell and In­dus­tri Pe­sawat Ter­bang Nu­san­tara (IPTN) in Ban­dung in Novem­ber 1982 for man­u­fac­ture and as­sem­bly of the Bell 412. Des­ig­nated Nbell 412s, the first In­done­sian built air­craft flew in April 1986, the he­li­copter be­ing pro­duced for the In­done­sian armed forces and civil cus­tomers. In 1988, four Nbell 412s were de­liv­ered to the In­done­sian Army as attack he­li­copters, while six more were de­liv­ered to the Navy in the anti-sub­ma­rine and ship­ping roles and eleven more to civil cus­tomers over the next five years. To­day, 37 Nbell 412s are listed as in ser­vice with the Army and three more with the Navy.


The pro­duc­tion of Bell he­li­copters in Italy be­gan in 1952 when a li­cence to build the Bell Model 47 was agreed with Agusta at Cascina Costa. Sev­eral ver­sions of the he­li­copter were pro­duced for all three Ital­ian armed forces, the po­lice and fire ser­vices and sev­eral gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, as well as a range of civil­ian cus­tomers. Agusta also built the first 50 of a Bri­tish mil­i­tary or­der for 200 Bell 47s while con­clud­ing a li­cence agree­ment with West­land He­li­copters in Yeovil­ton. The suc­cess of this early ven­ture and the ob­vi­ous quan­tum leap in he­li­copter per­for­mance that the brand new Huey rep­re­sented meant that Agusta were keen to li­cence pro­duc­tion of the Bell 204 as soon as pos­si­ble. Tak­ing ad­van­tage of the devel­op­ment pro­gramme Bell had been con­duct­ing on the Model 204 and 205 for the US Army, the Ital­ian man­u­fac­turer de­cided to pro­duce the Agus­taBell AB 204B with a range of en­gines and ro­tor sizes to ful­fil the widest pos­si­ble range of cus­tomer needs. Aside from the stan­dard 1100hp Ly­coming T53-L-11A tur­bine, the AB 204B could be fit­ted with the 1050hp H.1000 or 1250hp H.1200 ver­sions of the Rolls-royce Bris­tol Gnome or the 1325hp Gen­eral Elec­tric T58-GE-3, driv­ing ei­ther the 44ft (13.41m) or 48ft (14.63m) di­am­e­ter main ro­tor. The Gnome en­gine was in fact a li­cence built ver­sion of the T58 with var­i­ous Bri­tish com­po­nents and sys­tems and was in­cluded for the ease of ac­cess to spares and sup­port for Euro­pean cus­tomers. Agusta’s pol­icy of of­fer­ing the widest range of op­tions pos­si­ble to cus­tomers also ex­tended to the an­cil­lary equip­ment fit­ted to the he­li­copter, and was to make the com­pany the largest pro­ducer of the Huey af­ter Bell it­self. The first AB 204B first flew on May 10, 1961, and was to re­main in pro­duc­tion for the next 12 years, with 238 be­ing built for mil­i­tary and civil cus­tomers, in­clud­ing the armed forces of Aus­tria, the Nether­lands, Swe­den and Switzer­land. In 1965, a spe­cialised an­ti­sub­ma­rine and anti-ship­ping ver­sion was de­vel­oped, the AB 204AS. Pow­ered by the T58-GE-3, this was sup­plied to the Ital­ian, Span­ish and Turk­ish navies and in­cluded a dip­ping sonar and a search radar in its suite of de­tec­tion equip­ment. The AB 204AS could also carry a range of anti-ship and sub­ma­rine weapons, in­clud­ing a pair of Mk 44 tor­pe­does. The in­tro­duc­tion of the Model 205 long bod­ied Hueys saw Ital­ian pro­duc­tion shift to the Agusta Bell AB 205 in 1966 and AB 205A-1 in 1969, roughly the equiv­a­lents of the UH-1D and UH-1H but pro­duced in both mil­i­tary and civil ver­sions. Also built were five ex­am­ples of the AB 205B with its larger en­gine for the Ital­ian Army and Corpo Cara­binieri, the mil­i­tar y po­lice. By the time pro­duc­tion ended in early 1988, 490 AB 205s of all vari­ants had been built and sup­plied to the armed forces of Australia, Greece, Iran, Is­rael, Italy, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Ara­bia, Sin­ga­pore, Tan­za­nia, Tu­nisia, Turkey, Ye­men, Zam­bia, and Zim­babwe among oth­ers. Agusta also pre-empted the next devel­op­ment of the Huey fam­ily by designing and build­ing two pro­to­types of twin en­gined ver­sions of the he­li­copter. The AB 205BG of 1968 was pow­ered by a pair of 1250hp Gnome H.1200 tur­bines, while the AB 205TA had a pair of 700hp Tur­boméca As­ta­zou XIIS. Agusta also planned a fit a pair

of Con­ti­nen­tal 217 or Pratt and Whit­ney PT6 tur­bines to of­fer cus­tomers a range of twin en­gined op­tions, but the plans never de­vel­oped be­yond the two pro­to­types. In 1971, the Bell-de­signed twin en­gined vari­ant of the Huey did en­ter pro­duc­tion in Italy as the Agusta Bell AB 212 with some 255 be­ing built in five ver­sions. Aside from 88 AB 212s for civil and mil­i­tary cus­tomers in var­i­ous coun­tries, three AB 212GE elec­tronic coun­ter­mea­sures and elec­tronic in­tel­li­gence he­li­copters were built for the Ital­ian Navy, 40 AB 212AM util­ity trans­ports were built for the Ital­ian Po­lice and Air Force, five AB 212EW elec­tronic war­fare plat­forms were built for the air forces of Greece and Turkey, three AB 212ICO Com­bat Search and Res­cue (CSAR) he­li­copters were up­graded for 21 Gruppo of the Ital­ian Air Force for de­ploy­ment to Afghanistan in that role, but the most nu­mer­ous vari­ant by far was the AB 212ASW, 119 of which were built for the navies of Greece, Iran, Italy, Peru, Spain, Turkey, and Venezuela. This last ver­sion is an anti-ship­ping and anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare plat­form in­tended to re­place the ear­lier AB 204AS. Pow­ered by the 1875hp Pratt and Whit­ney Canada PT6T-6 Turbo Twin Pac, like the ear­lier air­craft it was de­vel­oped and mar­keted solely by Agusta. The winch mounted over the star­board cabin door can deploy a dip­ping sonar, orig­i­nally a Bendix AN/AQS-13B/F low fre­quency model, later up­graded to the AQS18. A search radar is also fit­ted in a dis­tinc­tive radome above the cock­pit. This was a ARI5955 radar in a thim­ble shaped radome in the first batch of 212ASWS, but was soon re­placed by such radars as the Sea­spray and APS-705A with their more drum shaped radomes. The he­li­copter can be armed with a pair of the Mk 44, Mk 46 or A244/S hom­ing tor­pe­does, or two Marte Mk 2 or Sea Skua anti-ship­ping mis­siles. Since its in­tro­duc­tion in 1973, the 212ASW fleet world­wide had un­der­gone a se­ries of sen­sor and avion­ics up­grades as well as air­frame life ex­ten­sion pro­grammes, the Span­ish air­craft as re­cently as 2011, which should see the type re­main in ser­vice well into the 2020s. The last Agusta-built Huey vari­ant was the Model 412, which en­tered pro­duc­tion in 1981 as the Agusta Bell AB 412. Pro­duc­tion of the AB 412 would in­clude the Bell de­vel­oped 412SP, HP and EP vari­ants with the more pow­er­ful ver­sions of the PT6T pow­er­plant as th­ese were in­tro­duced over the next 13 years. The mil­i­tary ver­sions of the AB 412s are of­ten re­ferred to by the name Gri­fone or Grif­fon. Like the 204AS and 212ASW, the Gri­fone was de­vel­oped by Agusta in­de­pen­dently, the air­frame be­ing fit­ted with an en­ergy ab­sorb­ing un­der­car­riage and crash wor­thy seats along with self seal­ing fuel tanks, all aimed at im­prov­ing the type’s sur­viv­abil­ity in mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions. A wide va­ri­ety of weapons can also be car­ried, in­clud­ing door and pod mounted ver­sions of the .50 cal ma­chine gun or 25 mm Oer­likon can­non. Py­lons can sup­port 19 tube 81mm SNORA rocket pods, eight TOW anti-tank mis­siles, Stinger air-to-air mis­siles for self de­fence or up to four Sea Skua anti-ship mis­siles giv­ing the Gri­fone a wide range of mission ap­pli­ca­tions be­yond its ba­sic mede­vac and trans­port roles. The pro­to­type Gri­fone first flew in Au­gust 1982 and was widely ex­ported, a to­tal of 260 of the mil­i­tary and civil ver­sions of the AB 412 be­ing built for coun­tries as di­verse as Swe­den and New Zealand. The Gri­fone was also used as the ba­sis for an at­tempt to pro­vide NATO with an air­borne mov­ing tar­get in­di­ca­tor (AMTI) radar sys­tem, known as the AB 412 CRESO. This stood for Complesso Radar Eli­por­tato per la Sorveg­lianza, or he­li­borne bat­tle­field sur­veil­lance radar, the large, flat­tened drum shaped radar be­ing fit­ted un­der the nose of the he­li­copter. Only one was built, the tri­als air­craft, MM81196, and it is pre­served to­day at Viterbo Air Base. Agusta is now Agus­tawest­land, part of the Fin­mec­ca­nica group, and was the largest man­u­fac­turer of Hueys of all mod­els af­ter Bell, in­creas­ing both the range of mod­els and the range of cus­tomers for the he­li­copter.


Bell signed a pro­duc­tion li­cence for the Huey in Ja­pan with Mit­sui & Co Ltd on Jan­uary 20, 1962, which in turn en­gaged Fuji Heavy In­dus­tries to man­u­fac­ture the Bell 204B and UH-1B at its fac­tory at Ut­sonomiya. Ly­coming sup­plied the en­gines as kits to Kawasaki, which as­sem­bled them as the KT-53 tur­bine. The only dif­fer­ence be­tween US and Ja­panese man­u­fac­tured he­li­copters was that the tail ro­tor was mounted on the star­board side of the fin in­stead of the port, a de­tail that would later fea­ture on sev­eral other Huey mod­els. Over the next 11 years, Fuji was to built 138 of both the civil and mil­i­tary ver­sions for the Ja­pan Ground Self De­fence Force (JGSDF) and sev­eral Ja­panese air­lines, 90 of both types be­ing de­liv­ered to the Army Avi­a­tion Groups through­out the coun­try. In 1968, one of the Fuji Bell 204Bs was con­verted as an ex­per­i­men­tal com­pound he­li­copter with a 22ft (6.7m) span fixed wing and en­larged tail sur­faces, fly­ing for the first time on Fe­bru­ary 11, 1970. Known as the XMH, it con­ducted a se­ries of ex­per­i­men­tal flights up to 1973. Also that year, Fuji de­vel­oped the Model 204B-2, fit­ted with the 1400hp KT-53-13B tur­bine as a high per­for­mance ver­sion of the he­li­copter, 20 be­ing built for the JGSDF. In 1974, six UH-1BS were used in weapons tri­als with rocket pods and guns, the suc­cess of which led to the con­ver­sion of 20 air­frames to serve as gun­ships. Sev­eral Ja­panese built 204Bs were for US civil cus­tomers as Bell’s pro­duc­tion line was work­ing at max­i­mum ca­pac­ity for the US Army. Also pow­ered by the KT-53-13B tur­bine was the first of the long bod­ied Hueys built in Ja­pan, based on the Model 205B civil ver­sion and des­ig­nated the UH-1H, it was in fact iden­ti­cal to the US UH-1H, even down to the tail ro­tor be­ing on the port side of the fin. The first Fuji built UH-1H flew on July 17, 1973, 133 be­ing built for the JGSDF to re­place the ear­lier UH-1BS in the trans­port and gun­ship roles. A num­ber of UH-1HS were also con­verted to carry and dis­pense mines as area de­nial mu­ni­tions plat­forms. As with the ear­lier 204, Fuji also de­vel­oped what was known as the 205B-2, an up­graded mil­i­tary trans­port ver­sion unof­fi­cially known as the UH-1J. This fea­tured the more stream­lined nose of the Model 212 and the up­rated 1800hp T53-L-703 en­gine, along with infrared jam­mers, a night vi­sion gog­gle com­pat­i­ble cock­pit and a vi­bra­tion re­duc­tion sys­tem. Fuji built 126 of this ver­sion for the JGSDF, the first be­ing de­liv­ered in 1993. As of 2014, 153 UH-1HS and Js were listed as in ser­vice, but plans were an­nounced to begin to re­place th­ese with a new Kawasaki-de­vel­oped he­li­copter in 2017.


The Aero In­dus­try Devel­op­ment Cen­tre (AIDC) in Tai­wan built 118 UH-1HS for the Repub­lic of China Army be­tween 1969 and 1976. Th­ese he­li­copters were to un­dergo a se­ries of up­grades dur­ing their ser­vice lives and im­pres­sively 91 re­mained listed as in ser­vice in 2014. Five UH-1HS were do­nated to Panama in 1997 to op­er­ate as anti-nar­cotics air­craft and four more went to Paraguay in 2002. Aside from Army Avi­a­tion, UH-1HS are also op­er­ated in Tai­wan by the Na­tional Fire Ad­min­is­tra­tion as aerial fire fighters.


As al­ready cov­ered ear­lier in this is­sue, large num­bers of Hueys had been pur­chased by the Shah of Iran prior to the Is­lamic Revo­lu­tion of 1979. Th­ese 205s, 212s and 214s had been both suc­cess­ful and re­li­able in Ira­nian ser­vice, so the Ira­nian He­li­copter Sup­port and Re­newal Com­pany be­gan a study to ex­plore the fea­si­bil­ity of re­verse en­gi­neer­ing the he­li­copter. The com­pany was al­ready re­spon­si­ble for the re­pair and main­te­nance of the en­tire Ira­nian Huey fleet, so were well versed in the tech­nol­ogy and struc­ture. The re­sult was the Panha Shabaviz 2-75, the first of which flew in 1998, en­ter­ing se­ries pro­duc­tion in 2002. Lit­tle is known about this Huey ver­sion, but it ap­pears to be based on the 205 and 214C air­frame, while the num­ber built re­mains un­clear.

Royal Aus­tralian Navy

An In­done­sian Navy (TNI-AL) Nbell 412, seen over the site of In­done­sia’s suc­cess­ful world record at­tempt for most divers div­ing in the one place at the same time off the coast of Manado, In­done­sia.

Con­stance Red­grave

One of the 352 Dornier UH-1DS built for the Ger­man Army and Luft­waffe. De­spite their des­ig­na­tion, th­ese were ac­tu­ally UH-1HS. Aside from as a util­ity trans­port, the Dornier UH-1DS also filled the search and res­cue role with the Ger­man forces, a task they main­tain to­day.

The li­cence agree­ment with Agusta of Italy to pro­duce Bell he­li­copters be­gan with the Bell 47 in sev­eral mod­els, two of which are seen here in Corpo Cara­binieri ser­vice.

SCDBOB RUAG Avi­a­tion

Left: The up­graded cock­pit of a Dornier built UH-1D, the up­grade and main­te­nance of the fleet be­ing man­aged by Swiss man­u­fac­turer Ruag Avi­a­tion.

Keith Dray­cott

One of the first units to op­er­ate the Agusta Bell AB 204B was 15 Stormo of the Ital­ian Air Force.the per­for­mance of the new air­craft gave the Alpine units the per­for­mance they needed, as seen here on Septem­ber 7, 1966, as one of their air­craft lands on Mont Blanc. The Agusta Bell AB 204B was sup­plied to a num­ber of armed forces, in­clud­ing the Aus­trian Air Force as seen here.

US Navy Ital­ian Navy RNAF

An Agusta Bell AB 212 of the Span­ish Navy de­liv­ers Tu­nisian naval per­son­nel on to the Span­ish ship SPS Con­tra­maestre Casado (A01) as part of Ex­er­cise Phoenix Ex­press 2007.The ex­er­cise in­cluded the forces of Al­ge­ria, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Por­tu­gal, Spain,tu­nisia,turkey and the United States. A pair of Agusta Bell AB 212ASWS of the Ital­ian navy show­ing the po­si­tion of the APS-705A radar with its drum shaped radome. One of the most in­stantly recog­nis­able cus­tomers for the Agusta Bell 412SP was the brightly coloured search and res­cue units of the Royal Nether­lands Air Force.


Aus­trian Air Force

As with many forces that op­er­ate the Agusta Bell AB 205, the Greek Air Force uses the type in the search and res­cue role. Sol­diers from the 4th Alpine Parachute Reg­i­ment of the Ital­ian Army rap­pel down from an 4th Army Avi­a­tion Reg­i­ment AB205 he­li­copter dur­ing the Falzarego ex­er­cise on Au­gust 23, 2011.

US Army Toshiro Aoki

The 126 up­graded Fuji Bell AH-1JS of the Ja­pan Ground Self De­fence Force fea­ture the more stream­lined nose of the Model 212 and the up­rated 1800hp T53-L-703 en­gine. A to­tal of 118 UH-1H Iro­quois were built by AIDC for the Repub­lic of China Army. They have proven to be long lived air­frames, en­ter­ing ser­vice in 1980, this one pho­tographed in 2012.

The all-glass cock­pit up­grade for the Agusta Bell AB 412.

Hel­lenic Air Force

Ital­ian Army


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