Helicopters Magazine

Bell Helicopter celebrates the iconic ‘Huey’

November 10, 2016  By Bell Helicopter

You can likely ask anyone across generations and they would know about the significance of the Huey helicopter. The name has become synonymous with the term helicopter and the Huey is one of the most widely recognized helicopters ever made.

Sixty years ago, before it would become known as the ‘Huey,’ it would be the XH-40 prototype under development for the U.S. Army. On October 20, 1956 the prototype XH-40 would achieve a successful first fight at our Fort Worth facility. This prototype helicopter was designed to perform medical evacuations, and would become paramount for the military as it increased the amount of patients that could be transported. The platform was increasingly used to quickly transport infantry units in its assault configuration.

Following its first flight, the XH-40 would go through a series of modifications, and was ultimately contracted for inclusion in the U.S. Army inventory. At that point, it was officially designated as the Bell UH-1, the iconic ‘Huey,’ where it would then become the world’s first mass produced turbine powered helicopter.

The original ”Number 1” ship of the XH-40 prototypes, tail number 54459, has just completed a year-long restoration effort funded by Bell Helicopter, the Aviation Museum Foundation and Blastoff Inc. The restoration was done to bring the prototype aircraft as close to its original Army configuration. To commemorate the special anniversary, the restored aircraft was unveiled at a ceremony hosted by the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama on October 20, 2016, sixty years to the day from its first flight.

The historical significance of this airframe is without question as it stands as the ultimate source of not only all ‘Hueys’ to come, but also as a predecessor to almost all rotorcraft design seen in today’s world.



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