The End of the Helicopter War

Huey Helicopter pushed overboard during evacuation of Saigon

Towards the end of 1969, the US Government announced the first steps toward the reduction of US forces and eventual pullout from Vietnam.  The Huey became a vital part of this plan.  The South Vietnamese Air Force was responsible for taking over combat operations with a goal of fielding 500 Bell UH-1s divided amongst 16 squadrons.

While President Nixon authorized a Cambodia incursion called Operation Toan Thang 43 in 1970,  US troops continued to pull out of Vietnam.  All Navy Hueys were out of Vietnam by January 1972 and Marine Hueys were out of the conflict shortly thereafter.  The small number of helicopters flown by the US Air Force were out of the country by the end of the year.

Huey Helicopter at Yanks Air Museum

UH-1 Huey Helicopter Unveiling

After many years of searching for a UH-1H Huey to add to the Yanks Air’s collection, on August 31, 2013 the museum has received its first model. Yanks received this aircraft through the US Forestry Service. The museum will display the Huey as the entrance into the Vietnam era.The Huey is one of the most extraordinary aircraft of our time.Officially the UH-1 series is the Iroquois. But its unofficial name, Huey, became so commonly used that the AH-1 attack version was officially named the Huey Cobra.

The Huey Helicopter and The Helicopter War

Huey Helicopter Gunship in Vietnam

In 1968, US Troops numbered over 535,000 and the Huey Helicopter was a familiar sight.  The helicopter proved its worth in the early months of 1968 when the Tet Offensive started in Vietnam Cities.  During the offensive, armed UH-1 gunships would fly on the flanks of the combat zone while UH-1 slicks delivered troops into a landing zone.  If the LZ was under fire from Viet Cong positions, the gunships would try to keep the Viet Cong under cover.  It was during this time that the AH-1G HueyCobra was introduced to the battlefield.

Military Helicopters Defined

UH-1H Medevac Huey Helicopter

A vital element of the fighting capability of any modern army lies in its ability to position and supply advancing forces rapidly.  Without this, it would be impossible to evacuate and replace wounded troops, or to maintain food, ammunition and other supplies.  The helicopter was developed to fulfill all these functions, with its unique ability to fly forwards, backwards, sideways and to hover.

Medevac Helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan

Sikorsky UH-60 Medevac Helicopter landing

Helicopters have proven themselves time and again in every scenario they have been exposed to. One of the areas they have particular excelled at is medevac and casevac.  Helicopters can and will go where other aircraft cannot and where ambulances can’t reach to rescue the wounded. They provide fast, smooth transportation of casualties to field hospitals many miles from the front lines and offer the ability to begin critical care as soon as they enter the airframe.

The Huey Medevac Helicopter in Vietnam

Bell UH-1 Huey Medevac helicopter in hot LZ

Helicopters played a critical role in the Vietnam War. Not only was the terrain arduous for land transport, it was also in hospitable for troops. The sheer distances involved made going anywhere by land a long and difficult process. The ever-shifting battle lines also made life interesting for all involved.  Thanks to lessons learned from Korea, helicopters were ready for action this time round.