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Category: Air support/Viet Nam

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CH-54 Tarhe 'Skycrane' Heavy Lift Helicopter

CH-54 'Skycrane' transporting a truck

Length : 77' (23m)
Weight : 20,650lbs (9290kgs)
Payload : 20,000lbs (9000kgs)
Cruising Speed : 126mph (201kph)
Range : 230 miles (369km)

The Sikorsky (model S-64A) CH-54A/CH54B "Skycrane", with a crew of three, was designed for heavy internal or external lift of heavy bulk loads. It had a rear-facing pilot's seat to provide a clear view of the cargo. A hoist was provided to allow pickups and deliveries without landing. A lightweight van (universal pod) could be attached to the fuselage for use as a mobile command post, maintenance and repair shop, or as a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH). The field hospital was equipped with X-Ray, lab equipment, and blood bank. It was well lighted and air conditioned so surgery could be performed wherever it was needed. A "people pod" was designed to carry 45 combat-ready troops. The " Skycrane" served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam. The CH-54 was used in aircraft recovery operations when loads were too heavy for the CH-47 Chinook. It was also useful for offloading during ship-to-shore operations. The CH-54 could also be rigged to drop the large 10,000 lb. ‘daisy-cutter’cratering bomb used to create landing zones ("LZs") in dense jungle. 

The T-54A Tahre had a six-bladed main rotor, four-bladed metal tail rotor, was powered by two Pratt & Whitney T73 -P-1 4500 shp turbine engines, and had a speed of 128 mph (111 knots). The CH-54B was powered by two Pratt & Whitney T73-P-700 4800 sph turbine engines.

It was the proven value of the CH-47 and CH-54 in Vietnam that prompted the USA to order a much larger HLH (heavy-lift helicopter), the Boeing Vertol YCH-61A, with payload of 45,000 lb (20412 kg) in the initial version. As soon as the Vietnam involvement was over this seemingly important machine was cancelled.

CH-54 "Skycrane" recovering a Chinook>>

'Pipe-smoke' mission for Skycrane, recovering a CH-47 Chinook
and just to show that every one can help someone sometime here is a Chinook recovering an Iroquois.

Everyone needs a Big Brother.


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