Sikorsky HNS-1 / R-4B / Hoverfly Helicopter Color Photographs

The Sikorsky HNS-1 is generally considered to be the first successful helicopter to enter military service in series production. It was known as the HNS-1 by the USN, R-4B by the USAAF, and Hoverfly in British service. It flew for the first time on 14JAN42. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
This is BuNo 39040 flown by Coast Guard LT Stewart Graham in 1943. Graham made the first successful helicopter sortie from a ship on 16JAN44, taking off and returning to the British freighter SS Daghestan. Notable in this photograph is that the helicopter is fitted with landing skids instead of wheels.
The Coast Guard was interested in developing the HNS-1 as a rescue platform, but convinced the Navy department to fund the program as an anti-submarine aircraft. Here is BuNo 39040 again, demonstrating the rescue hoist for the press. The helicopters were dual-serialed, Navy BuNo 39040 was also listed as USAAF s/n 43-46525. The Coast Guard used the last two digits of the Bureau Number as the side number. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
The HSN-1 could also be fitted with inflatable pontoons for landing on the water, details of the pontoon installation are visible in this photograph. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
More details of the pontoon installation can be seen here on BuNo 39043 / s/n 43-46544. The helicopter has been fitted with a canvas-covered litter on the starboard side. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)
The Navy and Coast Guard operated their HSN-1s on the East Coast, developing operational procedures for the SAR and ASW missions. The first successful helicopter combat rescue was performed in the China-Burma-India theater in APR44, extracting four survivors from the jungle after an aircraft crash. The R-4 was also deployed to the Pacific for liaison flights by the USAAF in May44.
The steamer Governor Cobb was converted by the Coast Guard to evaluate shipboard helicopter operations. She was fitted with a flight deck and armament and commissioned as USCGC Cobb (WPG-181) on 20JUL43. She landed her first helicopter on 15JUN44, but the poor condition of her engineering plant limited her effectiveness. She is seen here with HNS-1 (R-4) on the right and HO2S (R-5) helicopters.
With the official end of the war in Europe on 09MAY45 German forces were ordered to cease hostilities and surrender to the Allies. The Type IXC/40 submarine U-858 was operating off the U.S. coast and surrendered to the U.S. Navy on 14 May. Here is the U-858 with a prize crew off Cape Henlopen, Delaware with an HNS-1 and blimp overhead. Modelers note the amount of chipping on the conning tower of the submarine.

Vietnam Airmobile Warfare Tactics Book Review


Vietnam Airmobile Warfare Tactics

Osprey Elite Series Book 154

By Gordon L. Rottman, illustrated by Adam Hook

Paperback, 64 pages, heavily illustrated

Published by Osprey Publishing, March 2007

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1846031362

ISBN-13: 978-1846031366

Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.2 x 9.9 inches

The development of the helicopter gave military tacticians the potential to move troops around the battlefield in unpresented ways. Natural obstacles or enemy defenses could be avoided by flying over or around to more suitable positions, opposing forces could be cut off by “vertical envelopment”.  Early helicopters were underpowered and therefore lacked the range and payload capacity to make them militarily useful for transporting large formations of troops or heavy equipment, but by the late 1950s new designs were emerging which made combat applications more practical.  The U.S. Army began organizing Airmobile formations, with helicopters effectively being used as flying trucks to move soldiers around the battlefield; the USMC saw the helicopter as another way to move Marines ashore during amphibious assaults.

These new formations saw their first widespread tactical application during the Vietnam war, where ultimately more than 12,000 helicopters were deployed.  In addition to troop transport types such as the UH-1 Huey, specialized gunships, observation, and heavy-lift helicopters were developed and incorporated into operations.  While they gave unprecedented mobility on the battlefield, helicopters were vulnerable to enemy fire, particularly when inserting troops into a landing zone.  A total of 2,066 helicopters would be lost during the Vietnam War.

Vietnam Airmobile Warfare Tactics describes the transformation of the helicopter from a novel aviation vehicle into a vital tactical asset.  This is a standard Osprey Elite Series book, well-illustrated and an excellent primer in operations and tactics of Airmobile warfare.  It provides useful insight into what all those helicopters in Vietnam War movies are doing, or at least supposed to be doing.  Recommended.


Mil Mi-24 Hind Gunship Book Review



Mil Mi-24 Hind Gunship

By Alexander Mladenov, illustrated by Ian Palmer

Osprey New Vanguard Series Book 171

Paperback, 48 pages, heavily illustrated

Published by Osprey Publishing September 2010

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1846039533

ISBN-13: 978-1846039539

Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.1 x 9.9 inches

U.S. helicopter tactics rely on two basic types of platforms – assault helicopters such as the AH-1 Cobra or AH-64 Apache suppress enemy defenses which allows troops to be inserted by transport helicopters such as the UH-1 Huey or UH-60 Blackhawk.  In the Mil MI-24 Hind design the Soviets combined both functions, resulting in a heavily armed (and armored) assault helicopter which could also transport eight infantrymen.

This volume is divided into two parts.  The first half of the book describes the design and development of the Hind.  The various models are described including several types of special-purpose modifications.  For each of these the author lists specific equipment installed to perform the missions required.  The second half of the book is devoted to the various operators of the MI-24.  The author provides an overview of operations of each nations Hinds.  These are specific enough to understand the employment of the helicopters but do not go into great detail or contain crew interviews.

Like all books in the Osprey Vanguard series this is not a lengthy all-encompassing history of the subject but there is enough there to familiarize the reader with the high points.  I felt the technical description was the right length – it covered all the variants and would have bogged down with additional detail.  The section on the service histories was brief.  There are certainly many interesting stories omitted here due to page length.  Overall, another nice volume from Osprey.



Mil Mi-24 Hind in 1/72 Scale, Eduard Boxing of Zvezda Kits

These are my most recent completions, a pair of Eduard Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters in 1/72 scale. The plastic is actually Zvezda molds, Eduard boxes these as a Dual Combo.  Included in the box are two complete Zvezda Mi-24s, some resin bits, two frets of PE for each kit, a photo book with captions in Czech, and a Zvezda sprue with early Hind parts included for weapons.  The kit includes twelve marking options, mostly Czech schemes including some of Tiger Meet helos.

These are my first helicopters. I did not anticipate any particular differences from modeling fixed wing aircraft, but was surprised as they were a little more complex than I expected.  The kits provide for several variants and optional equipment configurations.  Here my unfamiliarity with the type worked against me.  Fit of the parts is generally good, but the canopies are over engineered and were a struggle to get on.  I also fought with colors on the Russian helo and I’m still not entirely convinced I got it right.