The Bell 47 is a two-bladed, single engine, light helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. Based on the third Model 30 prototype, Bell's first helicopter designed by Arthur M. Young, the Bell 47 became the first helicopter certified for civilian use on 8 March 1946. More than 5,600 Bell 47 aircraft were produced, including aircraft produced under license by Agusta in Italy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan, and Westland Aircraft in the United Kingdom. The Bell 47J Ranger is modifed version with a fully enclosed cabin and fuselage.
Design and development
Early models were variable in appearance, with open cockpits or sheet metal cabins, fabric covered or open structures, some with four-wheel landing gear. Later model Ds and Korean War H-13D and Es types settled to a more utilitarian style. The most common model, the 47G introduced in 1953, can be recognized by the full bubble canopy, exposed welded-tube tail boom, saddle fuel tanks, and skid landing gear.
The later three-seat 47H had a enclosed cabin with full cowling and monocoque tail boom. It was an effort to market a "luxury" version of the basic 47G. Relatively few were produced.
Engines were Franklin or Lycoming horizontally-opposed piston engines of 200 to 305 HP (150 to 230 kW). Seating varied from two (early 47s and the later G-5A) to four (the J and KH-4). Many are still in use as trainers and in agriculture (as of 2005).
Bell 47s were produced in Japan by a Bell and Kawasaki venture; this led to the Kawasaki KH-4 variant, a four seat version of the Model 47 with a cabin similar to the Bell 47J. It differed fron the "J" in having a standard uncovered tailboom and fuel tanks like the G series. They were sold throughout Asia, and some were used in Australia.
The Bell 47 helicopter entered U.S. military service in late 1946, in a variety of versions and designations for three decades. In the Korean War, it was designated the H-13 Sioux by the United States Army. It has also served as the helicopter of choice for basic helicopter flight instruction in many countries.
NASA had a number of Bell 47s during the Apollo program, used by astronauts as a trainer for the Lunar Lander. Eugene Cernan had a near disastrous accident shortly before his flight to the moon on Apollo 17 by crashing one into the Indian River.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department in California used the Bell 47 as the department's very first aircraft in 1957.
Specifications (Bell 47G-3B)
Data from International Directiory of Civil Aircraft
The Bell 47 appeared, and played key roles, in film and television productions. It has been associated with both the M*A*S*H film, and the M*A*S*H television series, and the Whirlybirds TV series (1957–1959).
Published - July 2009
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