Helicopters Essay

This essay has a total of 1438 words and 7 pages.


Early in 1961 General Maxwell Taylor, who was then Military Advisor to John F. Kennedy,
went out to Southeast Asia to find out just what was happening there. During his visit to
Vietnam, he noticed the lack of good roads inhibited the movement of government troops in
fighting the Viet Cong. His reports to the president motivated Kennedy to help the South
Vietnamese in their struggle against communism. Although he quickly decided to help out,
the president knew that new army techniques and weapons would have to be administered to
combat in the dense jungle terrain, still new to the United States Army. Kennedy proceeded
to send in a newly improved military innovation to help American troops fight the rising
Vietnamese War. This innovation was the Helicopter. On December 11, 1961, the U.S.
aircraft carrier “Card” carried the first Army H-21 helicopters to South Vietnam.(Gregory
12) During the Vietnam War, the helicopter proved to be a necessity in being able to
combat the power of the Viet Cong.

The helicopter is a member of a very versatile group of airplanes known as vertical
takeoff and landing craft. The main advantage in the jungles of Vietnam was the
helicopters ability to takeoff and land in a small area without the use of a runway. In
1100 the Chinese were the first to invent the concept of the rotating blades with a
helicopterlike top. In 1843, Sir George Cayley built a steam driven helicopter that rose a
few feet, but was too heavy to be practical. In Spain, Juan de la Cievera built the first
Autogiro in 1923. The autogiro was the father of the helicopter. Although the Autogiro is
not at all fast, it requires no fuel and flies on the concept of autorotation.
Autorotation was adapted to modern helicopters in case of power loss, where the helicopter
could land safely without crashing. The first practical flight of a helicopter in the
United States took place in 1939, when Igor Sikorsky flew his VS-300. (Comptons 1)

Helicopters played and overwhelmingly important part in the war in Vietnam. The Vietnam
War is referred to by many historians as the “helicopter war”, because of its primary use
of helicopters. The dense jungle terrain made most parts of Vietnam inaccessible to most
of the conventional war machines such as tanks and cargo vehicles, and pretty much
anything that was big and rolled on tracks or tires. Although there were some roads,
nearly all of them were country-type, two-track roads that flooded and turned muddy during
the annual monsoon season. This poor maneuverability forced the involvement of a new type
of locomotion. (Masaki 1) The helicopters proved necessary to move troops to one place to
another, but had many advantages outside the primary function. They served as air raid
attackers, troop deployment, evacuation, medical rescuers, and supply ships. Some
helicopters even fought alongside troops in the battlefield hovering close to the ground,
which proved effective because of its ability to move around and attack from various
angles, and then could easily fly off to another battle and help there.(Gregory 19)

Along with the extensive uses of the many types of helicopters, one series of helicopter
in particular stands out. The Heuy series of attack helicopters was without a question,
one of the most versatile helicopters. Between 1961-65 the idea of heliborne assault
infantry was ingenious new concept. The Heuy was the best suitable for assault landings
because of its maneuverability and quickness. Hueys also flew escort for the Chinook
helicopters that would carry artillery and other heavy equipment. The extensively wide
range of uses extends to usage as medical transports, because the Hueys could fly in, load
the injured soldier, and fly back out with much quickness, before they were shot down.
Many of the Hueys were also airborne medical stations too. All together there were well
over 5000 Hueys in service in the Vietnam War. (Unknown 1)

In addition to the Hueys, which could do almost anything, there were many other types of
helicopters that were more specialized but more limited to the tasks they would perform.
The Chinook dual-rotor helicopters were of a primary use as flying ambulances. Along with
certain types of Hueys these Chinook helicopters could evacuate casualties or the wounded
from the battle fields. The Chinook helicopters were more of an airship than helicopter
because of their size. It could carry up to 35 men or 24 stretchers. With its hook
suspended from its fuselage it could carry a load of 28,000 pounds at a steady
pace.(Gregory 24) The medevac helicopters were stationed at temporary army hospitals known
as MASH. The radio call sign for the medevac transports was “Dust-Off”. The pilots of
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