The CH-47A, first delivered for use in Vietnam in 1962, is a tandem-rotor medium transport helicopter. The Chinook's primary mission is moving artillery, ammunition, personnel, amd supplies on the battlefield. It also performs rescue, aeromedical, parachuting, aircraft recovery and special operations missions. Early production CH-47A's operated with the 11th Air Assault Division during 1963 and in October of that year the aircraft was formally designated as the Army's standard medium transport helicopter. In June 1965 the 11th Air Assault Division was redesignated as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and readied for deployment to Viet Nam. Chinooks from the 11th Air Assault formed the nucleus of the 228th Assault Helicopter Battalion which began operations in Viet Nam in September, 1965. The 1st Cavalry Division had brought their organic Chinook battalion with them when they arrived in 1965 and a separate aviation medium helicopter company, the 147th, had arrived in Vietnam on 29 November 1965. This latter company was initially placed in direct support of the 1st US Infantry Division. As of February 1966, 161 aircraft had been delivered to the Army. CH-47A's deployed to Viet Nam were equipped with Lycoming T55-L7 engines generating 2650 shp. The aircraft had a maximum gross weight of 33,000 pounds allowing for a maximum payload of approximately 10,000 pounds.
The most spectacular mission in Vietnam for the Chinook was the placing of artillery batteries in perilous mountain positions that were inaccessible by any other means, and then keeping them resupplied with large quantities of ammunition. The 1st Cavalry Division found that its Chinooks were limited to 7,000 pounds pay load when operating in the mountains, but could carry an additional 1,000 pounds when operating near the coast. The early Chinook design was limited by its rotor system which did not permit full use of the installed power, and the users were anxious for an improved version which would upgrade this system. As with any new piece of equipment, the Chinook presented a major problem of "customer education." Commanders, pilots and crew chiefs had to be constantly alert that eager soldiers did not overload the temptingly large cargo compartment. It would be some time before the using troops would be experts at sling loads and educated in such minor details as removing the gunner's sight from the artillery pieces. The Chinook soon proved to be such an invaluable aircraft for artillery movement and heavy logistics that it was seldom used as an assault troop carrier. The early decision to move to this size helicopter proved to be indisputably sound.
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