H-47 Chi­nook

The ul­ti­mate heavy-lift tan­dem-ro­tor he­li­copter, the Chi­nook de­liv­ers mil­i­tary sup­port, a pow­er­ful as­sault ca­pa­bil­ity and can even act as a fly­ing hos­pi­tal, pro­vid­ing aid to those in need

History of War - - CONTENTS -

Ex­plore the in­ter­na­tional ser­vice his­tory of this for­mi­da­ble heavy-lift he­li­copter

Ini­tially de­signed and built by Boe­ing Ver­tol in the early 1960s, the CH-47 Chi­nook is now man­u­fac­tured by Boe­ing Ro­tor­craft Sys­tems at their re­cently mod­ernised Ri­d­ley Park fa­cil­ity near Philadel­phia. The CH-47A first en­tered ser­vice with the United States Army on 16 Au­gust 1962. Due to the out­break of the Viet­nam War in 1965, the Chi­nook en­tered into a bap­tism of fire on the front line and was heav­ily utilised, pro­vid­ing a heavy-lift ca­pa­bil­ity. For a short time it also op­er­ated as a gun­ship.

The lack of a tail ro­tor per­mits nearly 100 per cent power to be used for lift, mak­ing it ideal for air­craft re­cov­ery mis­sions, sal­vaging many dam­aged air­frames. This re­cov­ery ef­fort re­turned thou­sands of air­craft to ser­vice through re­gen­er­a­tion pro­grams and saved the USA bil­lions of dol­lars. In to­tal 349 CH-47AS were built, but many of these suf­fered dam­age and 79 were lost dur­ing Viet­nam.

The need for higher per­for­mance saw the CH-47B/C quickly de­signed and in­tro­duced.

The CH-47B had Al­lied Sig­nal En­gines T55L-7C – rated at 2850shp (2,130kw) – in­stalled, and im­prove­ments to the fuse­lage were also in­tro­duced. The C model had larger ca­pac­ity fuel tanks and an up­rated trans­mis­sion sys­tem. CH-47A/B/C mod­els all served in Viet­nam be­tween 1965 and 1973. By the 1970s, the Chi­nook re­ceived global in­ter­est and world­wide sales started.

After the Viet­nam War, Boe­ing and the US Army be­gan plan­ning a ma­jor

fleet up­grade that led to de­vel­op­ment of the CH-47D. The first pro­to­type flew on 14 May 1979 and the first pro­duc­tion air­craft flew on 26 Fe­bru­ary 1982. 441 early model Chi­nooks went through an ex­ten­sive mod­erni­sa­tion process in Philadel­phia that pro­duced an es­sen­tially new CH-47 fleet. CH47D de­liv­er­ies to the US Army took place un­til the mid-1990s.

The D model had a more pow­er­ful Honey­well L-712 en­gine that could han­dle a 25,000-pound use­ful load – nearly twice the Chi­nook’s orig­i­nal lift ca­pac­ity. These en­gines were up­graded again to the L-714A vari­ant. The CH-47D was heav­ily in­volved in United States Army com­bat op­er­a­tions in the Gulf War, Bos­nia, Op­er­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom and Op­er­a­tion En­dur­ing Free­dom in Afghanistan.

Sev­eral rolling mod­erni­sa­tion pro­grams con­tinue to en­sure this multi-mis­sion air­craft re­mains in ser­vice through to the 2030s and be­yond. With the num­ber of vari­a­tions, Boe­ing has more re­cently mar­keted the Chi­nook as the H-47. Mod­ern ver­sions of the H-47 have been built un­der li­cense in Italy (ICH-47F) and Ja­pan (CH-47JA+) in ad­di­tion to the CH-47F/MH-47G that are pro­duced in the United States. Boe­ing al­ready has plans for a CH-47F Block II that will fea­ture a se­ries of up­grades fo­cused on in­creas­ing pay­load, pro­vid­ing com­mon­al­ity across the fleet and cre­at­ing a foun­da­tion for af­ford­able fu­ture up­grades. A swept tip, com­pos­ite ad­vanced ro­tor blade has al­ready been de­vel­oped, pro­vid­ing an es­ti­mated 1,500-pound in­crease in pay­load.

Since the Chi­nook’s in­tro­duc­tion over 50 years ago more than 1,200 ve­hi­cles have been de­liv­ered to 18 op­er­a­tors, with over 800 air­craft still in op­er­a­tion to­day. The CH-47’S work­horse rep­u­ta­tion has made it a de­sir­able op­tion world­wide. In ad­di­tion to the US Army’s sub­stan­tial fleet, many coun­tries have cho­sen a num­ber of CH-47 to meet their heavy-lift needs.


An RAF CH-47 prac­tises a limited vis­i­bil­ity land­ing known as a brownout. This type of land­ing can make large blind­ing dust clouds, stirred up by the he­li­copter’s down­wash, caus­ing sig­nif­i­cant flight safety risks from air­craft and ground ob­sta­cle col­li­sions

An RAF pi­lot and co-pi­lot nav­i­gate their CH-47 over Wales

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