Bell UH-1 Iroquois
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois is a military helicopter powered by a single, turbo-shaft engine, with a two-bladed main rotor and tail rotor. The helicopter was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet the United States Army's requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter in 1952, and first flew on 20 October 1956. Ordered into production in March 1960, the UH-1 was the first turbine-powered helicopter to enter production for the United States military, and more than 16,000 have been produced worldwide.
The first combat operation of the UH-1 was in the service of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The original designation of HU-1 led to the helicopter's nickname of Huey. In September 1962, the designation was changed to UH-1, but Huey remained in common use. Approximately 7,000 UH-1 aircraft saw service in Vietnam, 3,000 being lost in that conflict.
While earlier “short-body” Hueys were a success, the Army wanted a version that could carry more troops. Bell's solution was to stretch the HU-1B fuselage by 41 in (104 cm) and use the extra space to fit four seats next to the transmission, facing out. Seating capacity increased to 15, including crew. The enlarged cabin could also accommodate six stretchers and a medic, two more than the earlier models. The Model 205 prototype flew on 16 August 1961. In 1966, Bell installed the 1,400 shp (1,000 kW) Lycoming T53-L-13 engine to provide more power for the aircraft. The pitot tube was relocated from the nose to the roof of the cockpit, to prevent damage during landing. Production models in this configuration were designated as the UH-1H.
The Aviation Museum was contacted and asked whether we were interested in acquiring two helicopters, refugees from the shooting of a film to be called WWZ (World War Zombie). The main film star is none other than Brad Pitt, who spent time on the island with his lovely wife Angelina Jolie and six children.
On first inspection it was found that one helicopter had been blown up during the filming - no construction plates were found and we shall leave the challenge to the many local historians to track its record. The other is fairly complete (pictured opposite), except for two missing front doors, engine and a few small items. From initial investigation it looks like 66-0749 (construction number 5232) and has a grand history. Constructed sometime around 1966, it probably served in Vietnam with a Cavalry Unit (famous cross swords nose insignia) but again from then onwards its history becomes unclear. It may have served in the first Gulf War, then with an Air National Guard spending its last days at Fort Rucker, Alabama, for pilot training. Last recorded in service in 1994 with approximately 5,800 hours total time when it was offered for sale through Dakota Air Supplies. It definitely starred in Stephen Spielberg’s feature film Munich and probably in comic movie Tropic Thunder starring Ben Stiller, Nick Nolte and Robert Downey Jnr. We might truly have a film star on our hands. We recommend you watch both films, and watch out for WWZ and look up the Huey at the Museum.