In­side the Huey

A visit to a leg­end

Aviation Classics - - CONTENTS -

In a rather beau­ti­ful part of the UK near Black­pool is a vil­lage with a farm on one edge of it. Noth­ing un­usual at first glance – in the build­ings there are sports car spe­cial­ists and other com­pa­nies – but in the han­gar is a rare de­light, the only fly­ing Bell UH-1H Huey in the UK that served dur­ing the Viet­nam war, along with many other sur­prises.

The Huey He­li­copter Team is based in its own pur­pose built han­gar with ev­ery amenity imag­in­able built in to main­tain and sup­port the air­craft and crews. The place, like the air­craft, is im­mac­u­late, the floor spot­less like all re­ally good air­craft hangars are. If you won­der why that’s im­por­tant, imag­ine an air­craft had an oil or a hy­draulic leak. If the floor were dirty, how would you see it? There is no such dan­ger here. In­side the pris­tine han­gar are two very his­toric air­craft, both vet­er­ans of the Viet­nam War. Sit­ting on its pur­pose built tow­ing and launch­ing plat­form is a Hughes OH-6A Cayuse, bet­ter known as a Loach, next to which is the only Viet­nam vet­eran UH-1H fly­ing in the UK. Along­side the air­craft is a crew sup­port ve­hi­cle and a small trac­tor to tow the air­craft to the he­li­pad out­side. Owned by pi­lot and busi­ness­man Phil Con­nolly, the he­li­copters are popular per­form­ers at air shows all over the UK and Europe, par­tic­u­larly the Huey with its un­mis­take­able sound. This UH-1H, 72-21509, was de­ployed to Viet­nam with the 129th As­sault He­li­copter Com­pany in July 1972, where it took part in 108 sor­ties with that unit un­til it was re­turned to the US in Fe­bru­ary 1973. A var­ied ca­reer with the Army and Na­tional Guard fol­lowed, af­ter which the

air­craft was sent for stor­age in the Ari­zona desert in Au­gust 2000. Like many other Hueys, 509 was pur­chased and used as a parts donor air­frame, be­ing found in a largely dis­man­tled con­di­tion at NW He­li­copters in Seat­tle by Phil and his team. A long and painstak­ing restora­tion be­gan af­ter the air­frame was pur­chased in 2003, re­sult­ing in the gleam­ing he­li­copter that forms the cen­tre­piece of the dis­play team to­day as a fit­ting trib­ute to the UH-1 and its crews. If you would like to con­tact the team to ar­range their par­tic­i­pa­tion in your event, find out more about the team’s peo­ple and air­craft or ar­range a visit to the han­gar, their con­tact de­tails can all be found on their web­site at www.huey.co.uk or you can tele­phone +44 (0)1772 687775. Avi­a­tion Clas­sics was al­lowed to visit the team in their han­gar and pho­to­graph this su­perb ex­am­ple of the he­li­copter from nose to tail, in­side and out, for which op­por­tu­nity we are in­debted to Phil and his team. Words: Tim Call­away

The fin mounted nav­i­ga­tion and warn­ing lights. Look­ing straight up the fin at the tail ro­tor hub as­sem­bly.

The un­der­side of the tail boom look­ing for­ward show­ing the VHF nav­i­ga­tion an­tenna near­est the cam­era, fol­lowed by a close up of the air vent in the un­der­side of the boom, then the star­board and port sides and mark­ings and fi­nally the boom at­tach­ment point at the rear of the cen­tre sec­tion, where the whole boom is held on by only four bolts. Look­ing in­side the star­board side in­spec­tion hatch un­der the en­gine ex­haust at the back of the cen­tre sec­tion, the point where the tail ro­tor drive shaft emerges from un­der the en­gine.

The port side en­gine bay seen from above. Note the sup­port struc­ture to the en­gine and the elec­tri­cal, fuel, hy­draulic and oil con­nec­tors as well as the en­gine con­trol link­ages. The base of the main ro­tor trans­mis­sion and mast is just ahead of the en­gine bay. Note the par­tic­u­late fil­ter on the air in­take on this air­craft to the rear of the mast.the ver­ti­cal slot at the rear of the fil­ter box is the ejec­tion point for any col­lected de­bris.

Two views of the en­gine ex­haust pipe. Note the red anti-col­li­sion bea­con mounted above it. The rear port side electrics bay. The star­board side of the cen­tre sec­tion with the main cabin and all hatches and ac­cess doors closed.the main fuel filler in red fills the two tanks mounted at the bot­tom of the cen­tre sec­tion im­me­di­ately be­low the en­gine bay.

The nose com­part­ment houses the bat­tery and avion­ics sys­tems for the in­stru­ments and lies be­tween the two main longerons which form the ba­sis of the en­tire struc­ture of the cabin and cen­tre sec­tion. Since 509 no longer car­ries all the mil­i­tary sys­tems, a num­ber of lead plates have had to be added to the nose bay to keep the air­craft in bal­ance.

A close up of one of the air vents in the roof of the main cabin.

The Hughes OH-6A and Bell UH-1H at home in their pur­pose built han­gar.

The MD of the Huey He­li­copter team, Phil Con­nolly, on the left, with Sue Holden (team mar­ket­ing ad­min­is­tra­tor) and Stu­art Old­ham (site main­te­nance) to all of whom many thanks for the wel­come, the ac­cess and the non­stop cof­fee!

The star­board side of the fin show­ing the tail boom skid, of­ten re­ferred to as the stinger. Bell UH-1H 72-21509 along­side the Huey He­li­copter Team’s dis­play sup­port ve­hi­cle. The 90° gear­box at the top of the fin show­ing the oil level win­dow on the star­board side. The han­gar also boasts a fully equipped team brief­ing fa­cil­ity. Un­usu­ally this is equipped with 40mm grenade rounds, a very rel­e­vant weapon to the pe­riod the team are com­mem­o­rat­ing.

The fin base with the nav­i­ga­tion and tail-lights and tail boom skid or stinger. The shroud over the 43° gear­box at the base of the fin with its oil level win­dow clearly vis­i­ble. The tail ro­tor show­ing the pitch con­trol link­ages on the out­side of the hub and the re­in­force­ment lay­ers at the root of the blades.

The rear tail­boom and star­board side of the fin with the ro­tor steady rope run­ning through the VHF nav­i­ga­tion an­tenna loop and out to the protective rear skid. The port side of the rear tail­boom and fin.

Like the main ro­tor the tail ro­tor blades have hon­ey­comb cores with glass fi­bre skins and an ex­truded metal lead­ing edge.the 90° gear­box, hub and pitch con­trol rods are all clearly vis­i­ble in this view.

Above the Huey show­ing the up­per sur­face of the ro­tor blades. The blades were painted in dif­fer­ent pat­terns by dif­fer­ent units to make their land­ing ar­eas eas­ier to see in a mass unit as­sault.

The port side of the tail­boom and base of the fin show­ing the cool­ing lou­vres in the shroud cov­er­ing the 43° gear­box.

Three views of the tail ro­tor drive shaft from the 43° gear­box at the base of the fin to the 90° gear­box at the top. Note the bi­cy­cle chain along­side the shaft which runs over a sprocket be­hind the gear­box and con­trols the pitch of the ro­tor blades, the ca­bles at­tached to the chain are con­trolled by the pi­lot’s rud­der ped­als.

The orig­i­nal tail ro­tor chain was a spe­cially made toothed chain which ran over a cog. This proved weak in prac­tice and was re­placed by the bi­cy­cle chain and sprocket de­sign. How­ever, when­ever an early Huey was shot down or crashed in Viet­nam, the crew tried to re­cover the orig­i­nal toothed chain, which was made into crew bracelets usu­ally en­graved with the tail num­ber of the Huey on the clasp.

The en­tire fin lead­ing edge shroud in the open po­si­tion ex­pos­ing the tail ro­tor drive that runs up its length.

The 43° gear­box at the base of the fin with the shroud re­moved.

Views of the port and star­board syn­chro­nised el­e­va­tors show­ing the unit num­ber painted on the up­per sur­faces, again to as­sist in keep­ing the unit’s he­li­copters to­gether on an as­sault. Note the in­verted air­foil sec­tion of the syn­chro­nised el­e­va­tors which move with the pi­lot’s cyclic con­trol.

Look­ing aft in the in­side of the tail boom show­ing at the bot­tom the push rod con­trol to the el­e­va­tors and the air vent in the un­der­side, then on the star­board side the push rod to the tail ro­tor pitch con­trol and the pul­leys where the push rod con­verts to the ca­ble con­trols that even­tu­ally at­tach to the bi­cy­cle chain. The tail ro­tor drive shaft with the en­tire protective shroud folded back in its main­te­nance po­si­tion, show­ing the shaft ex­it­ing un­der the en­gine ex­haust, then the bear­ing points along the tail boom and the two gear­boxes on the fin. Six views around the main un­der­car­riage of the Huey at floor level, show­ing the mount­ing tubes in their con­nect­ing slots in the lower cabin body and the large cir­cu­lar open­ing di­rectly un­der the main ro­tor where the ex­ter­nal cargo hook was fit­ted. Note the protective bolt-on steel shoes to pro­tect the skids from dam­age, the var­i­ous at­tach­ment lugs and an­tenna un­der the fuse­lage, and the ca­ble cut­ter blade mounted in the cen­tre un­der the nose.

The top en­gine cowl­ing hinges straight up.the wire run­ning round the in­side of the up­per cowl­ing door is the con­nect­ing line to the fire sen­sors.

Two views of the cargo hook out of its un­der fuse­lage re­cess, along­side its con­trol springs.

The port side en­gine bay first with the lower door open then with both doors fully open.

Look­ing down on the star­board en­gine bay lower door show­ing its lo­ca­tion when fully opened.

In­side the front of the star­board en­gine bay is the main en­gine oil tank and the con­nec­tor for the hy­draulic sys­tem ground test equip­ment. The lower side en­gine pan­els have their own swing out sup­port frame­work and a latch­ing arm that lo­cates in a slot in the fuse­lage to tail boom joint.

The star­board side en­gine bay seen from above.

Port and star­board views of the trans­mis­sion and base of the main ro­tor mast with the for­ward cowl­ing open. Note the main gen­er­a­tor, the black elec­tric mo­tor shaped ob­ject and the yel­low trans­mis­sion fluid tank mounted ahead of the trans­mis­sion.

Both sides of the main ro­tor mast and head with the sta­biliser bar above.the con­trol sys­tem for the ro­tors is a master­piece of sim­ple and strong en­gi­neer­ing. The hub end of a used blade on dis­play in the han­gar re­veals the two mount­ing points and the lay­ers of re­in­force­ment at the hub mount­ing end. A sec­tion through a Huey main ro­tor blade with the hon­ey­comb rear sec­tion filler, ex­truded alu­minium D-box for­ward spar and trail­ing edge, glass fi­bre skin and stain­less steel anti-ero­sion strip pro­tect­ing the lead­ing edge.

Port and star­board views of the main ro­tor mast and trans­mis­sion with the for­ward cowl­ing open. Note the swash plate and blade pitch con­trols on the mast and the sta­biliser bar mounted above the main ro­tor.

The rear star­board side bay con­tains the cabin heater unit. Three views across the cabin and cock­pit roof show­ing the va­ri­ety of air in­takes, an­tenna, pi­tot heads, nav­i­ga­tion light, hand rails, walk­ways and wind­screen wipers mounted there.the large blade like de­vice in the cen­tre is ex­actly that, a blade to de­flect, trap and cut wires or ca­bles be­fore they be­come en­tan­gled in the main ro­tor.

Look­ing into the bot­tom of the rear star­board bay re­veals the heater trunk­ing.

The for­ward star­board bay did con­tain weapons avion­ics and other sys­tems, but is now mostly empty.

The star­board door gun­ners po­si­tion with its M60 ma­chine gun on its mount.

The rea­son for the Huey He­li­copter Team’s ex­is­tence is the com­mem­o­ra­tion and preser­va­tion of a unique time in his­tory. On the main cabin doors are recorded the names of all those who died while serv­ing with the 129th As­sault He­li­copter Com­pany dur­ing the Viet­nam War.

The star­board side of the main cabin with the two rear side­ways fac­ing seats, four rear row and two for­ward seats.

The port main cabin door in the fully open po­si­tion show­ing the two rear catches.

The floor in the cen­tre of 509’s cabin has a num­ber of patched bul­let holes marked by yel­low dots at their cor­ners. Sev­eral of the rounds ex­ited through the roof of the cabin.

The for­ward cabin door opens for­wards and out­wards or can be re­moved com­pletely.

The port door gun­ner’s po­si­tion with its M60 ma­chine gun and 7.62mm ammunition feed.

The port side of the main cabin with the three rows of seats.

The port cabin door has the cen­tre of grav­ity per­cent­age plate in the sill.

The roof of the main cabin show­ing the sound sup­pres­sion lining and var­i­ous open­ings for air vents and re­mov­able stan­chions to sup­port ad­di­tional seats or stretch­ers.

The pi­lot’s and co-pi­lot’s doors show­ing the hinge and win­dow de­tails. The in­side of the pi­lot’s cock­pit door. The in­side of the co-pi­lot’s door.

The pi­lot’s col­lec­tive lever. The pi­lot’s yaw ped­als, note the name Bell Huey em­bossed into them. The pi­lot’s side of the cock­pit with his ex­ten­sive in­stru­ment panel. The co-pi­lot’s col­lec­tive lever.

The co-pi­lot’s cyclic con­trol.

The pi­lot’s seat with the ar­mour plate side pro­tec­tion in the re­tracted po­si­tion.

The for­ward ends of the two main struc­tural longerons are vis­i­ble through the lower nose glaz­ing.

The co-pi­lot’s yaw ped­als.

The co-pi­lot’s seat with the ar­mour plate side pro­tec­tion in the re­tracted po­si­tion.

The pi­lot’s cyclic con­trol.

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