CH-53D Sea Stallion
The CH-53D is a more capable version of the CH-53A introduced into the Marine Corps in 1966. CH-53Ds, with improved engines and increased power, are also used to recover downed aircraft, sweep mined areas and, if necessary, tow distressed ships. Used extensively both afloat and ashore, the Sea Stallion was the heavy lift helicopter for the Marine Corps until the introduction of the CH-53E triple engine variant of the H-53 family into the fleet in 1981. The CH-53D has performed its multi-role mission lifting both equipment and personnel in training and combat, most recently in Operation Desert Storm, where the helicopter performed with distinction.
Twin-turbine engines turn a single, six-bladed main rotor which has an automatic bladefolding system. Engine air separators have been incorporated on many models to reduce power loss in a sand/dust environment. An automatic flight control system lessens pilot fatigue on long missions. The CH-53 is capable of emergency water landing and takeoff. Capable of both internal and external transport of supplies, the CH-53D is shipboard compatible and capable of operation in adverse weather conditions both day and night. The CH-53D is now filling a role in the Marine Corps' medium lift helicopter fleet.
The twin-engine helicopter is capable of lifting 7 tons (6.35 metric tons). Improvements to the aircraft include an elastomeric rotor head, external range extension fuel tanks, crashworthy fuel cells, ARC-182 radios, and defensive electronic countermeasure equipment. If passengers are carried, 38 combat-equipped troops or 24 litter patients can be accommodated. The helicopter will carry 37 passengers in its normal configuration and 55 passengers with centerline seats installed. The Sea Stallion's cargo/troop compartment measures 30 feet long by 7'/2 feet wide and 6'/2 feet high and has a rear door and loading ramp. To facilitate cargo handling, a remotely controlled winch is located at the forward end of the compartment. There is space for a jeep with trailer, a 105mm howitzer or a Hawk missile system.
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