Firefighters at Phan Rang AB, South Vietnam, battle a simulated aircraft fire using an HH-43's airborne fire suppression kit plus downdraft from the rotors to open a path for "rescuers" in 1970. (U.S. Air Force photo)
The U.S. Air Force used the Huskie primarily for crash rescue and aircraft fire-fighting. Kaman delivered the first USAF H-43As in November 1958. Delivery of the B series began in June 1959. In mid-1962 the USAF changed the H-43 designation to HH-43 to reflect the aircraft's rescue role. The final USAF version was the HH-43F with engine modifications for improved performance. Some Fs were used in Southeast Asia as "aerial fire trucks" and for rescuing downed airmen in North and South Vietnam.
A Huskie on rescue alert could be airborne in approximately one minute. It carried two rescuemen/firefighters and a fire suppression kit hanging beneath it. It often reached crashed airplanes before ground vehicles arrived. Foam from the kit plus the powerful downwash air from the rotors opened a path to trapped crash victims to permit their rescue.
The HH-43B on display, one of approximately 175 Bs purchased by the USAF, established seven world records in 1961-1962 for helicopters in its class for rate of climb, altitude and distance traveled. It was assigned to rescue duty with Detachment 3, 42nd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Kirtland Air Force, N.M., prior to its retirement and flight to the museum in April 1973.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: None Engine: Lycoming T-53 of 860 hp Maximum speed: 120 mph Cruising speed: 105 mph Range: 185 miles Ceiling: 25,000 ft. Rotor diameter: 47 ft. Overall length: 47 ft. Height: 17 ft. 2 in. Weight: 9,150 lbs. maximum Serial number: 60-263