The BELL 47 Helicopter Family - Models A thru K
 
The Bell 47 went through many incarnations in it's illustrious history, fulfilling both civilian and military needs. My research is certainly not perfect but I have endeavored to be as accurate as I can. This page will be updated as needed over time. The production figures shown are for US models only. I hope you enjoy this brief basic rundown of the Bell 47 Helicopter family.
 
 

 

 
Firsts for The BELL 47 Helicopter
   
The first certified helicopter;
The first military helicopter trainer;
The first medevac helicopter;
The first helicopter to go to war;
The first helicopter gunship;
The first helicopter to carry a President;
The first helicopter to land on the White House lawn;
The first helicopter crop sprayer;
The first to reach 5,000 helicopter deliveries;
The first to deliver 2,400 helicopters to the military,
The first helicopter on duty with all the United States Forces,
The first helicopter air mail delivery,
The first helicopter with skid landing gear,
The first helicopter used in cinematography,
The first with rotor blade de-icing,
The first helicopter to fly over the Swiss alps,
The first helicopter used in geological mining,
The first helicopter with auto-stabalizing controls,
The first used in inter-city transportation.
  And possibly the first helicopter to be a TV star.
 

 

 
MODEL 30 : The Beginning
 
Bell's first helicopter was invented and built by Arthur Young. The Model 30 had a 2-bladed rotor with perpendicularly- mounted stabilizer bar. Without the bar, movement of the rotor mast, mounted directly to the rotors, would cause the plane of rotation of the rotors to change, thus producing instability. Centrifugal force of the stabilizer bar, linked directly to the rotor, isolated the rotor from the movement of the rotor mast which was attached to the rotor hub by a universal joint. Arthur Young's patent was later assigned to Bell Aircraft Company. In November 1941, Young joined Bell Aircraft and agreed to build 2 helicopters to demonstrate the concept. In December 1942, the first of 3 prototypes, Ship 1, was built at the Gardenville, NY plant. By July 1943, Ship 1 had reached speeds of over 70 mph. Soon after, Ship 1 was damaged during a power- off landing because of poorly designed landing gear. It was rebuilt as Ship 1A with raised a tail-rotor and modified landing gear to permit the aircraft to remain in nose-up position for power-off landings. Ship 2, a 2-passenger version with enclosed cockpit, became the next test vehicle. By 1944, the Model 30 was considered ready for public display and was featured in a Buffalo Sunday newspaper. In July of 1944, it made it's public debut before a crowd inside Buffalo Stadium.

In early 1945, work began on Ship 3 designed with the best elements of Ships 1 and 2. Four-wheel landing gear worked better on take-offs and landings, different body shape with the instrument panel in the middle and almost no floor gave unobstructed vertical vision, and later a bubble canopy gave undistorted vision. It launched on April 20, 1945 and was an immediate success. With room for 2 passengers, no obstructive body or windshield, and only a small instrument column between pilot and passenger, the pilot had uninterrupted view up and down. The Model 47, based on this design, made it's first flight on December 8, 1945. On March 8, 1946, it received CAA Type Certificate H-1 and was the first American commercial helicopter. The Bell 47 has since been produced by more countries than any other helicopter in the world.

The first Bell 47s led to the pre-production military Model 47A and then came the commercial Model 47B. Later came the 47B-3, 47D, 47D-1, 47E, 47G, 47G-2, 47G-3, 47G-4, 47G-5, 47H-1, 47J, and 47K, which includes scores of military designations.
 

Ship 1
 
Ship 1A
 
1944, Ship 2 in Buffalo Stadium before a crowd.

Ship 3, with Arthur Young and colleagues, became the platform for the Bell Model 47.
 
Bell 47 - NC1H
CAA Type Certificate H-1, first American commercial helicopter
 
Bell 47 - NC2H
 

 

 
MODEL 47 A / YR-13
 
Improvements and refinements to the pre-production Bell 47s led to the military Bell Model 47A (US Navy HTL-1, US Army Air Force YR 13). They were equipped with a 178 hp Franklin 6V4-178-B3 piston engine, 4 wheel landing gear, covered tail boom, optional two piece bubble, dual controls/pilot left side.
   
         
   
YR-13 = Army Air Force 15
YR-13A = YR-13 specially designed for cold weather operation and testing in Alaska 3
HTL-1 = Navy version of the YR-13. 10
Total built 28
   
 
 

 

 
MODEL 47 B
 
178 hp Franklin 6V4-178-B3 piston engine. Interestingly, Larry Bell did not like the bubble canopy and open tail boom. His vision was for the helicopter to look like a car. It was a bubble canopy version, however, where the Model 47 became the first commercially certified helicopter in the world, May 8, 1946.
 
   
47 B brochure   47 B   47 B-3
   
  # built
47B 43
47B-2 1
47B-3 33
Total built 77
   
 

 

 
MODEL 47 D
 
Evolving from the B-3, the Model 47 D was equipped with a 200 hp Franklin O335-3 engine, 4 wheels landing gear until 1951 when they were replaced with the familiar skids setup. The 47D-1 came during production with a larger 3 person capacity cabin to compete against other helicopters looking for buyers. During the Korean war, someone thought of using the helicopter to lift wounded soldiers from the front lines and delivering them directly to the hospitals. This prompted the Army to order many more H-13s for years to come. The Army had a tradition to sometimes use the names of Native American tribes and the H-13s were named "Sioux". The name did not catch on all that well but the nickname "Angel of Mercy" certainly did as these ships ferried wounded troops to safety.The field hospitals were called MASH units, acronym for "Medical Army Surgical Hospital", and the H-13s became the image of Army aviation and troop rescue. Many will remember the scenes of the H-13s in the opening credits of the tv series, M*A*S*H.
 
   
         
The military 47D/H-13 models were as follows:
    # built
YH-13 4 wheel landing gear, covered tail boom, one piece bubble, dual controls/pilot left side. 18
H-13B 4 wheel landing gear, covered tail boom, two piece bubble, dual controls/pilot left side. 65
H-13C First ship with skid landing gear and open tail boom. Equipped with two piece bubble, dual controls/pilot right side.
15 H-13B's were later converted to the "C" setup.
1
H-13D Skid landing gear, open tail boom, one piece bubble, single controls/pilot left side. Larger bubble for a 3 occupants.
Tail rotor guard and ventral fin introduced.
86
H-13E 47D-1, 3 person bench seat, skid landing gear, open tail boom, one piece bubble, dual controls/pilot left side.
Redesignated OH-13E in 1962.
490
     
HTL-2 Navy version of H-13B, 4 wheel landing gear, covered tail boom, two piece bubble, dual controls/pilot left side. 12
HTL-3 Navy version of H-13D, skid landing gear, open tail boom, one piece bubble, single controls/pilot left side. 9
HTL-4 Navy version of H-13D, skid landing gear or wheels, improved transmission, dual controls, larger cockpit. 46
HTL-5 Navy version of H-13E but with 4 wheel landing gear for training. Redesignated TH-13L. in 1962. 39
  Note: Any H-13 could be fitted with optional dual float kit.  
 

 

 
MODEL 47 G, G-2, G-3, G-4, G-5
 
The model 47G utilized all of the design improvements that had shown themselves from the years before. It was the first helicopter that was designed and built at the Fort Worth plant in Texas and was produced with constant improvements well into the 1970's. The 47G also was the first 47 design to be produced outside the United States. In 1954, Augusta in Italy began producing Bell 47s under license until 1979. Other countries to do so were Kawasaki in Japan from 1954 to 1976, and Westland in England from 1965 to 1969. Through this time period, the 47G is most recognizeable from earlier models by the dual saddle gas tanks, curved lower cabin opening, and rear synchronized elevator at the rear of the tail boom. The 47G became famous as the helicopter flown in the late 50s television show, Whirlybirds, along with it's 47J sister ship, and made the Bell 47 helicopter an American icon.
 
   
     
  Manufactured at the Fort Worth plant # built
     
47G 200 hp Franklin 6V4-200-C32AB engine three-seat Model 47D. 208
47G-2 220 hp Lycoming VO-435 engine, hydraulic assist controls. 334
47G-2A 240 hp Lycoming VO-435-A1E engine. 51
47G-2A -1 240 hp Lycoming VO-435-A1E engine, fuel capacity increased from 43 US gallons to 61.6 US gallons. 25
47G-3 225 hp Franklin 6VS-335-A engine, 14 inch longer tail boom and longer rotors. 38
47G-3B 260 hp turbocharged Lycoming TVO-435-A1A engine, 8-inch wider 3-seat cabin, 61.6-USG fuel capacity 80
47G-3B-1 270 hp Lycoming TVO-435 engine. 337
47G-3B-2 280 hp Lycoming supercharged TVO-435-G1A engine. 158
47G-3B-2A 280 hpLycoming TVO-435-F1A engine and cabin 11-inch wider than the G. 40
47G-4 260 hp Lycoming VO-540-B1 B3 engine. 86
47G-4A 280 hp version of the 47G-4. 269
47G-5 260 hp Lycoming VO-540-B1 B3 engine,.2-seat version of 47G-4 with 12 volt electrical system. 226
47G-5A 260 hp Lycoming VO-540-B1 B3 engine, 3-seat Model 47G-5, 61.6 US gallon fuel tanks, and 11-inch wider cabin. 110
     
XH-13F Modified H-13G with 280 hp Continental-Turbomeca XT-51-T-3 Artouste turbine engine.
First flight of a turbine powered helicopter. 1955.
1
H-13G Army version of the 47G, 250 hp Lycoming VO-435-23 engine. Designated OH-13G in 1962. 264
H-13H Army version of the 47G, 250 hp Lycoming VO-435 engine, all metal rotors, dual controls, curved skid supports.
The H-13H was the first gunship. Air Force received some, designated UH-13H.
Army version redesignated OH-13H in 1962..
466
H-13K Army modified H-13H with 225 hp turbocharged Franklin 6VS-335 engine, longer rotors.
Established 2 womens records, altitude and non-stop distance, in 1961.
2
     
HTL-6 Navy trainer version of H-13G, dual controls. Float models were designated TH-13M 48
     
OH-13S Army successor to OH-13H. 260 hp Lycoming turbocharged TVO-435-A1A engine with 3-4p stretched version for
observation. 14 inch longer tailboom, 1 foot longer rotor blades.
396
TH-13T Air Force version of the OH-13S. 270 hp Lycoming TVO-435-25A six-cylinder; two and three seat military instrument trainer with extra IFR equipment. 415
     
 

 

 
MODEL 47 H Bellairus
 
Introduced in 1955, this was a deluxe version of the 47G. It had a 200hp Franklin 6V4-200-C32AB engine, fully clad fuselage and an enclosed sound-proofed cabin which could accommodate one pilot and two passengers, modified landing skids, and contoured 35 US gallon fuel tanks. The cabin had leather upholstery throughout as well as a leather covered dashboard grouping all electrical controls. There was a luggage compartment in the metal switches and carburetor enclosed tail attempt to sell a luxury type helicopter for government boom section. This was an dignitaries and result was too small of an interior to adequately serve the businessmen. The end purpose for which it was intended.
 
   
         
  # built
47H-1 Bellairus 33
   
 

 

 
MODEL 47 J Ranger
 
The 1957 47J Ranger was a four-seat version of Model 47H with single pilot seat in front and rear 3-place passenger seat. In 1957, an Air Force version was the first helicopter to be used by a US President. Two specially ordered models were used by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957.
 
47 J Ranger brochure H-13J Presidential ship H-13J at the White House
     
  Manufactured at the Fort Worth plant # built
     
47J 220 hp Lycoming VO-435-A1B engine, stowage compartment and 35-US gallon fuel capacity. 135
47J-2 240 hp VO-540-B IB engine, metal rotor blades, fixed stabilizer, hydraulic controls, blue tinted bubble and windows, 48 US gallon fuel capacity 104
47J-2A 260 hp Lycoming VO-540-B 1 B3 engine, collective boost system. 75
     
H-13J USAF version with 240 hp Lycoming VO-435-21engine. Special models for Presidential use.
This was the first helicopter to carry a US President (Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957)
Designated UH-13J in 1962.
2
     
HUL-1 US Navy version with 260 hp Lycoming VO-435-B1B engine. Designated UH-13P in 1962. 23
HUL-1G US Coast Guard version of Navy HUL. Designated HH-13Q in 1962. 2
HUL-1M US Navy version with the Allison T63 Gas Turbine engine. Designated UH-13R in 1962. 2
 

 

 
MODEL 47 K
 
The Model 47K was a smaller two seat trainer version of the 47J ordered directly from Bell Helicopter. Some models have since been privately owned and customized.
 
   
     
  Manufactured at the Fort Worth plant # built
     
HTL-7/47K US Navy 2-seat trainer with modified cockpit and IFR instrumentation. 240 hp Lycoming O-435-6 engine. Designated TH-13N in 1962. 18
     
 

 

 
Production numbers shown do not include models built outside of the United States.
 

 

 
 
Along with my own personal research, I sincerely thank the following for the information that helped me with this page:

"The Bell Helicopter Textron Story" by David A. Brown,
the 1953 Air Force H-13E Flight Handbook,
"H-13 Sioux" , Squadron/Signal Publications Mini Number 6,
The Bell 47 Helicopter Association and it's website,
Professor Charles Lumsden, The Bell 47 Toronto Project
Jeff Jankovics, of the Bell 47 Helicopter Association,
Tom Heaverlo, of the Bell 47 Helicopter Association,
Kerry Eisenhaur, of the Bell 47 Helicopter Association,
Terry Inch, of Dutch Country Helicopters,
and personal sources who are pilots, friends, and enthusiasts.

This Gallery page created by Lance A. Morgan. All rights reserved.
The display of these items is for historical and informative purposes only.


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