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The Forgotten Bell HSL


The Forgotten Bell HSL

  • SKU # : b_0942612701
  • U.S. Navy's First All-Weather Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter
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The Forgotten Bell HSL

Authors / Details:

The Bell company won a Navy design competition in June 1950 for a helicopter specifically for anti-submarine warfare. This design, Bell Model 61, was the only Bell helicopter using the tandem-rotor layout; it was powered by a 2400 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-50 engine and was intended to carry air-to-surface missiles such as the Fairchild Petrel, as well as dipping ASDIC. Three XHSL-1 were ordered, the first of these flying on March 4, 1953, followed by a production contract for 78, including 18 destined for the Britain's Fleet Air Arm.

After Navy evaluation and a fatal accident, however, the HSL was determined to be less satisfactory for the intended mission than a backup design that had been initiated with Sikorsky Aircraft during the HSL's troubled development. Production was terminated at 50 aircraft, none of which were ever used operationally. About half were delivered directly into Navy storage, never to fly again. A handful were used in the development and qualification of airborne minesweeping equipment and techniques. Minesweeping turned out to be a mission for which it was well suited, but not one that justified the continued operation of a limited number of a unique helicopter in the Navy's inventory. By 1960, all surviving HSLs had been broken up. Not even parts remain.

Author: Tommy H. Thomason
Publisher: Steve Ginter, 2005
Paperback, 89 pages
Hand signed by author
Weight: 8 ounces
Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 inches
ISBN: 0-942612-70-1