YouTube – Sikorsky H-5
pilot + three
57 ft. 1 in.
12 ft. 11 in.
The Sikorsky H-5, called the Dragonfly, was probably best known for its role as a medevac helicopter, rescuing downed pilots during the Korean War. It was a larger, more powerful, more streamlined progression of the original line of Sikorsky helicopters, capable of additional missions.
The Sikorsky H-5 became the first dedicated rescue helicopter when fitted with a hoist and external fuel tank. Operated by the U.S. Navy, it was also the first helicopter used in the Antarctic.
The helicopter was updated through the years. Modifications included adding a nose wheel, more interior room, and additional payload capacity. The Sikorsky H-5 became the world’s first amphibious helicopter when it was fitted with pontoons which had wheels extending from them.
The Sikorsky H-5 cockpit seated a pilot and co pilot in tandem. The pilot’s position afforded excellent visibility, essential for the search and rescue role. For medevac missions, stretchers were carried on each side of the helicopter.
The H-5 was the first all metal helicopter built in the Sikorsky line. Previous helicopters were cloth covered. This made it more able to withstand the harsh conditions it was exposed to. Pilots particularly appreciated its precise handling, an improvement over prior helicopter designs.
The Sikorsky H-5, also designated the R-5 and S-51, was used by the U.S. Army in the medevac role, and as an observation and scout aircraft. It was used for search and rescue by the U.S.Coast Guard. and as a utility helicopter by the U.S.Marine Corps. It was used for sea duties on a wide variety of ships by the U.S.Navy It was even used by the U.S. Post Office. A number were also sold for civilian applications. On Jan. 10, 1946 a H-5 climbed to an altitude of 21,000 feet, making it one of the world’s highest flying helicopters.
In addition to being built in the United States, a total of 133 of the helicopters were built under license in England by Westland.
A total of over 300 Sikorsky H-5 helicopters of all types were produced.