Nicknamed "Huey", the Bell UH1 Iroquois was the classic helicopter of the Vietnam War, used for everything. It was extremely versatile and powerful. It was the first really successful use of helicopters in an armed conflict. It's excellence was directly related to its engine. It was the first helicptor in the forces that used a gas turbine engine. This had a much better power/weight ratio than the piston engines of previous generations of helicopters, enabling them to carry more, faster, higher. They also had extremely thick rotor blades compared to previous generations of helicopters. This gave them the now characteristic noise of a US helicopter.....
which can be heard for miles and miles and miles, if they are flying over 200 feet.
There were three basic configurations of the Huey UH1 during its main conflict......
- 1. Slick
This was the most common variation, the out and out troop carrier. The only weapon was a large machine gun on either side, slung in the door, fired by a gunner (suprisingly), when landing in a hot drop zone to drop off, or pick up troops.
- 2. Medevac
No guns, big red cross on the side for the VietCong to aim at, covered in blood and bits of peoples insides. Could carry up to eight wounded soldiers. A welcome sight, no doubt, for the unfortunates on the US side.
- 3. Gunship
Lots of guns, lots of ammunition, rockets everything. The first useful helicopter gunship, quickly superceded by the first true helicopter gunship, the Cobra, with its thin fuselage, jet plane cockpit layout, and no spare room whatsoever, and, most importantly, shark-mouth paintwork across the front.
Most people will recoginise the UH1 from films or television. If a helicoptor is going to be blown up, it will either be a small bubblecopter, or it will be a UH1. The A-Team and Airwolf must of destroyed several regiments of these distinguished warhorses each - in one episode of the A Team a UH1 was painted silver, and so was transformed into a prototype Russian supercoptor, but it was still blown to smithereens.