‘Every time, we met US Army soldiers, they got jealous: “My daddy flew on one of these in Vietnam!”,’ Roland Bartetzko, former German Army Paratrooper.
The UH-1 evolved from a 1955 US Army competition for a new utility helicopter. The Army employed it in various roles, including that of an armed escort or attack gunship in Vietnam. The initial Army designation was HU-1, which led to the common unofficial nickname of “Huey.” All US armed services adopted the model as did several other countries, and it was redesignated in 1962 as the UH-1 under a triservice agreement. The USAF ordered the UH-1F Huey in the early 1960s for support duties at missile sites, and TH-1F variants for instrument and hoist training and medical evacuation.
The USAF later ordered more capable versions of the Huey. The HH-1H incorporated a longer fuselage and larger cargo area. The USAF ordered these in 1970 as local base rescue helicopters to replace the HH-43 Huskie. The first of the USAF’s UH-1Ns, a twin-engine utility version capable of cruising on one engine, was obtained in 1970.
However, the legacy UH-1D remained the fav “Huey” model for many of the crews who had the chance to fly it as well as for those who flew aboard it as passengers.
‘This chopper was our “battlefield taxi”. It landed in the middle of our barracks, you hopped in and off you went for a ride. There’s no better flight experience than with this chopper: You are ten meters above the tree crowns and every moment, you think that you are going to crash while the pilots are laughing at you.
‘I jumped a couple of times with a parachute from the Huey and this was also fun compared to jumping from other aircraft. The doors are open, your feet are dangling outside in the air and then the jumpmaster who sits behind you gives you a clap on the shoulder. Off you go!
‘Every time, we met US Army soldiers, they got jealous: “My daddy flew on one of these in Vietnam!”
‘And the sound that these birds made! Their characteristic “flup, flup, flup” gave you goosebumps. Because of this sound, we also called it the “carpet beater”.’
‘In comparison to the Huey, all other aircraft were ordinary and boring.’
Photo credit: Unknown