H-34 Choctaw / HUS Seahorse / HSS Seabat
Almost as soon as Sikorsky designed the H-19, it began working on a similar but larger helicopter. Internally, Sikorsky had designated the H-19 the S-55. Internally, Sikorsky designated the new helicopter design the S-58. In military use, this bigger bird became the H-34 in 1962 under the United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system.
The Sikorsky (model S-58) was essentially a lengthened and more powerful version of the Sikorsky (model S-55) H-19 Chickasaw cargo helicopter. It could carry 12 to 16 troops, or eight litters in the MedEvac role. The Sikorsky Model S-58 had a single four-bladed main rotor with a diameter of 56 feet and a four-bladed metal tail rotor. The fuselage length, ignoring rotors, is 46' 9". The S58 was one of the largest helicopters with a piston engine. The power plant is one 1525 horsepower Wright R-1820-84 radial piston engine. It had a gross weight of 5900 kg and the capability to carry 12 passengers in airline-style seating or 18 troops.
Sikorsky Aircraft manufactured this single rotor helicopter about 1960. The S58 was the standard aircraft in its class during the 50's and the 60's. The Chocktaw was licensed and built in Great Britain as the "Wessex". More than 2800 were built, including the Westland Wessex.
Ultimately the S-58/UH-34 was flown by all branches of the U. S. military and also by the armed forces of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Haiti, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Katanga, Laos, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, Soviet Union, Thailand, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vietnam. In addition to its military service, the H-34 still performs a number of civilian duties including air taxi and fire fighting. The S-58T remains one of the most popular helicopters in the aerial crane role because of its large lifting capacity and relatively low operating costs compared to those of other aerial crane platforms. The abundance of ex-military H-34s, retired in favor of higher-performance turbine models, allowed many operators to acquire a powerful helicopter quite easily.
Of all Sikorsky S-58 models built in the first four years of production, the Army versions had been the most widely used, and had accumulated more than half of the total hours flown by all S-58s. In Vietnam, the important role of the helicopter in war was well defined. S-58 missions included armed assaults, troop transport, casualty evacuation, and artillery spotting.
The H-34 was one of the Army's two standard light transport class helicopters. It was assigned primarily to transportation helicopter companies and is used to transport supplies, equipment, and personnel, and for aeromedical evacuation within the combat zone. It is a large single-engine, all metal helicopter. The Choctaw won acclaim in 1956 when Army aviators established three world helicopter speed records over a closed course at Bridgeport, Connecticut. Powered by a 9-cylinder radial piston engine mounted in the nose, facing aft, and inclined 35 degrees from horizontal, the H-34 incorporates a single cabin door for loading, is 65.8 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 15.9 feet high overall.
That an aircraft, initially rejected by all the armed services, should ultimately serve for so long and in such numbers is remarkable. Even more commendable is the genuine affection with which the aircrews who flew it in combat recall their service. Every year thousands of Marines who flew the H-34 in Vietnam still meet at venues all around the country to recall their experiences in a magnificent flying machine and one that meant so much to them.
The H-34 test program at NASA was the most extensive rotorcraft flight test effort ever attempted when it was undertaken in the early sixties. The aircraft was extensively instrumented with, not only conventional instrumentation such as accelerometers, strain gages, airspeed, etc., but also one blade incorporated differential pressure transducers for the measurement of section pressure distributions. Early wind tunnel tests had employed blade mounted pressure transducers, but this was the first flight test blade.
The flight test program was conducted at NASA Langley with one of the primary purposes being to develop data with which 2D airfoil pressure distributions could be compared. This was successfully undertaken. The tabulated results from the flight test and the results of the companion wind tunnel test of the H-34 rotor in the 40 x 80 Wind Tunnel have become a benchmark data set for use in the validation of airloads prediction methods. Several investigators have utilized these results in their validation efforts.
Army helicopters are named after Native American tribes. As the United States expanded westward, pressure mounted to secure land from the Choctaw for U.S. settlement. Choctaw lands continued to shrink through a series of land cession treaties. In this 1822 map of Mississippi, the Choctaw and Chickasaw lands are being replaced by new counties. The large yellow area shows the Choctaw holdings and the large light blue area in the northeast shows the Chickasaw land. In 1830, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek forcibly removed most Choctaw to land west of the Mississippi River, to the present state of Oklahoma. Some Choctaw remained in Mississippi, some returned, and today are known as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, located in Choctaw, Mississippi.
The Choctaw were known to be excellent farmers and often provided food to early Europeans in the area. Politically, the Choctaw allied with the French and against the Chickasaw and English during the many military conflicts that arose from the 1720s until American Independence in 1783.
The Choctaw Indians of Mississippi bear a rich and lively culture. It is evident in their living language and daily activities. They celebrate high days and holidays with favorite foods and festivals. They cherish and perform their tribal dances. They fashion blowguns and baskets of native cane, and they play the old game kabocha toli - stickball, with its handmade hickory sticks and balls. The Choctaws were reckoned to be the most numerous of the Muskhogean linguistic family having once numbered, perhaps, a quarter of a million before reduction by repeated ravages of imported epidemic disease. Other Muskhogean tribes include Creeks, Chickasaws, Seminoles, Apalachi and some smaller groupings. The Cherokees,another major southern tribe speak an Iroquois dialect. Of the Muskhogean languages, Chickasaw is most closely related to Choctaw.
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