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Kaman HH-43 Huskie: The Transport and Reconnaissance Military Helicopter of US Air Force, US Navy and US Marine Corps

Today we present to our readers the military helicopter with the intermeshing rotors, which was in service of the following three US military branches.

  • United States Air Force (USAF)
  • United States Navy
  • The United States Marine Corps (USMC)

The name of this aircraft is Kaman HH-43 Huskie which served these 3 branches of US military well from mid 950s till the mid-1970s. The aircraft was primarily built to serve the role of firefighting and a rescue helicopter within the close vicinity of the places near air force bases. However, in its later roles, the aircraft served in the Vietnam War as the Short-range overland S&R (Search & Rescue) aircraft.

The Kaman HH-43 Huskie had different designations as per the military branch that was using the helicopter for their purposes. These designated for respective military branches are as follows.

  • USAF designated it as HH
  • US Navy designated it as HTK
  • USMC designated it as HUK or HOK

The aircraft was sued by the navy and marine corps for their observation, utility, and training purposes.

Origin:-




Back in the early 1940s, an aeronautical engineer by the name Charles Kaman was working as a mere employee o the project of another known helicopter named Igor Sikorsky which was being developed by the Sikorsky Aircraft. That was the era of early 140 when the world and the USA were embroiled in World War II. At the age of 26 years old, Kaman decided to form his own aircraft manufacturing company and named it as Kaman Aircraft Company, which was merely a company he operated out of his mother’s garage.

The very project that Kaman started working on was the design of a helicopter, which would utilize the intermeshed rotor arrangement system which would get its power from the piston engine. As for the control and stability, it would be provided via the servo-flaps that were fitted on the edge of the blades. This would allow for the blades to spin in a contra-rotating manner while countering the inherent spin resulted due to the engine’s torque. This would eliminate the need for the standard tail rotor. As for the shaft assembly, it would run on the power delivered from the helicopter’s main engine. This design prototype was named Kaman K-125A which made its first flight back on 15th January 1947.

Revision of the Original Design:-

In 1948 Kaman made revisions to the original design to create the prototype K-190 which also flew successfully and then paved the way for another prototype named K-225 which presented the seating for 3 crewmembers. This was the model that caught the eye of the US Navy and they ordered the testing for the XHTK-1 back in 1950. US Navy was satisfied with the trials and placed the order for 29 of these new helicopters. This helicopter was designated by the US navy as HTK-1 where T stands for Training.

Kaman then went on to develop his final product which he named Kaman Model 600 for dedicated military service. This helicopter was the one that went on to serve the US Air Force, US Navy, and US Marine Corps.

Designation of Kaman HH-43 Huskie by US navy and US Air Force:-

The US Marine Corps entered the Kaman HH-43 Huskie under the designation HOK-1 where O stood for Observation role. This USMC Kaman HH-43 Huskie was powered with the single Pratt & Whitney R-1340-48 Wasp radial [piston engine.

As for the one used by US Navy, it was designated as HUK-1 in which U stood for Utility role and it was fitted with the Pratt & Whitney R-1340-52 radial piston engine. US Navy received the delivery of 29 of these helicopters.

Finally, the US Air Force also received the delivery of the 18 of the Kaman Model 600 helicopters under the designation H-43A Huskie. This version was based on the design of the USMC’s HOK-1. Later these H-43A Huskies were re-designated as HH-43As.

The first helicopter to mount a gas turbine engine:-

One prototype of the Kaman Model 600 was modified to be K-225 which was to fit inside a Boeing YT50 Model 502-2 gasoline turbine engine. This led to the Kaman HH-43 Huskie to be the very first helicopter in the history to have mounted this type of engine and had its first successful flight o 10th December 1951.

This helicopter was also tested by the US Marine Corps under designation HTK-1G but was not accepted. US Army also received a static test drone which was designated as HTK-1K.

Perfect for civilian and military roles:-

The Kaman HH-43 Huskie proved to be a successful mount for both the civilian and military roles. The aircraft was able to be fly worth on as minimum as a 1-minute notice and featured the standard operational capability of 2 crew members. The aircraft was also able to carry the passengers or the mission specialists such as rescue personnel and firefighters.

This also includes the aircraft to offer the transport of the mission applicable equipment like the fire suppression kits that were hung under the helicopter’s fuselage section. This would allow for the firefighters to arrive at the scene of the crashed aircraft while the helicopter’s crew would use the suppression kits and wash the flames with the rotor’s wind to move them away from the pilot of the crashed aircraft. From there, the job would successfully be overtaken by the ground troops.

Nickname earned during Vietnam War:-

As per USAF, they received the delivery of the Kaman HH-43 Huskie back in November 1958 and the aircraft was then entered into the Vietnam War. The aircraft was used there for the rescuing of the downed aircraft pilots and was also called over as the firefighting platform for the base protection.

During the Vietnam War, the Kaman HH-43 Huskie was nicknamed “Pedro” with the helicopter also earning the phrase “Pedro Cared So That Others May Live”.

Other operators and retirement:-

Other than the USA, the Kaman HH-43 Huskie also went on to serve the following countries.

  • Burma
  • Pakistan
  • Colombia
  • Iran
  • Morocco
  • Thailand

The military service of the Kaman HH-43 Huskie ended back in the mid-1970s with some of them still in existence today. They are either in hands of civilians while some are on static displays.

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