The familiar and distinctive Bell 47 is an especially significant aircraft as it was one of the world's first practical helicopters.
The ubiquitous Bell 47 dates back to Bell's Model 30 of 1943, an experimental helicopter evaluated by the US Army (10 were ordered for that service). The first subsequent prototype Bell Model 47 (with a car type cabin and two seats) first flew on December 8 1945. In May 1946, this early model Bell 47 became the first civil helicopter in the world to gain civil certification.
The first civil variants to see production were the similar Model 47B, and the 47B3 with an open cockpit. The 47D followed and was the first model to feature the famous `goldfish bowl' canopy and the distinctive uncovered tail boom. The Model 47E was similar but powered by a 150kW (200hp) Franklin engine.
The definitive Model 47G followed the 47E into production in 1953, and it was this variant, in a number of successively more powerful versions, that remained in production until 1974, testament to the utility and success of Bell's basic design. The 47G had optional metal rotor blades and was powered by a range of Lycoming engines outputting 150 to 210kW (200 to 280hp).
The Model 47H is based on the 47G, but with a fully enclosed fuselage and conventional cabin, and formed the basis for the 47J Ranger. The Ranger had a further enlarged cabin for four, and entered production in 1956. The 47J2 Ranger introduced powered controls and metal blades as standard, and was powered by a 195kW (260hp) VO540.
Kawasaki in Japan licence built a development of the 47G, the KH4 with more traditional style enclosed cabin
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