So what are the greatest military helicopters of all time?
Here's my list:
#10 - Mil Mi-24 Hind
I really didn't want to put this turkey on the list. Having actually had the chance to crawl all over this helicopter... and having seen it in action... I echo many of my colleagues disappointment. However, the fear factor cannot be denied. This helicopter was a bogeyman to Western militaries for many years. It's capabilities were thought to be far greater than they really were - and propelled western military forces to continue improving/advancing their own helicopter fleets. The Hind is by far one of the most overrated helicopters... but its effect on the helicopter community is undeniable.
Photo © Josef Havránek
#9 - Focke-Wulf Fw 61
It's where it all began. The Germans were way ahead of their time. When the rest of the world mocked the notion of helicopters... Germany saw the great potential in them. And when everyone else was still messing around with autogyros, Heinrich Focke was building the first controllable helicopter. No small feat.
*no photo in database*
#8 - Mil Mi-26 Halo
Perhaps never very practical - this helicopter still put everyone else to shame. CH-47? CH-53? Both look like toys compared to this monster. The Russians always had a knack for building mammoths - and the Halo is no exception. With the ability to carry over 100 people, travel roughly 1000nm, and take off at 123,500lbs! The Halo is in a class unto itself.
Photo © Max Bryansky - Foxbat AVIa
#7 - Sikorsky CH-53 Super Stallion
It's a real toss up between this and the CH-47 Chinook. Both aircraft gained fame in Vietnam as outstanding helicopters. Both are massive in size... and can haul an ungodly amount of cargo. But I think the CH-53 wins out simply because it frequently does what the CH-47 community tries to avoid - flying directly into combat. How many missions has the MH-53 performed, that the public is unaware of? Definite beast of a helicopter.
Photo © Michael J Freer
#6 - Westland Lynx
The sport car of helicopters. 249kts!? Flight maneuvers akin to a fixed wing aircraft? It's a fantastically designed aircraft that pushes the envelope.
Photo © Tobias Rose - AirTeamImages
#5 - Sikorsky H-3 Sea King
Probably one of the best naval helicopters of all time. A true work horse, whether it was hunting subs, med-evacing wounded, search/rescue, hauling cargo... or hauling VIPs. And how many downed pilots have this helicopter to thank for being rescued?
Photo © Thomas Andre Hjelmen
#4 - Bell AH-1 Cobra
Before this beautiful looking helicopter, gunships were only modified utility helicopters. The Cobra revolutionized the modern helicopter gunship. It brought military thinking and tactics into an entirely new direction. And increased the helicopter's lethality on the battlefield, exponentially. And it has served proudly in the militaries of many nations, and is still seeing combat with the USMC in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Photo © Tony Zeljeznjak
#3 - Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk
Alright... maybe I am a bit bias on this one! But I couldn't NOT put it in the top three! What an incredible helicopter. It took the best of the UH-1 and improved on it. The solid design has saved my life on a number of occasions. It's logging more flight hours than any other helicopter in Iraq, and it's vital to the daily operation of the US Army. It replaced the UH-1 with the US Army, it replaced the H-3s in both the US Navy and USCG, it has performed admirably as a SpecOp platform... and it serves as an outstanding VIP transport. FANTASTIC helicopter.
Photo © Del Laughery
#2 - Bell H-13 Sioux
When you see this helicopter - you think of M*A*S*H, Korea and med-evacing thousands of wounded soldiers to safety. In the Korean War, how many soldiers were saved from injuries that would have killed men only a few years prior, in WWII? This is the helicopter that convinced the world that helicopters could serve a useful purpose. And it still flies commercially today - training many students how to become good pilots.
Photo © Elisabeth Klimesch
#1 - Bell UH-1 Iroquois (Huey)
This is a no brainer. The Huey revolutionized helicopter tactics in the militaries of not only the US, but throughout the world. It is probably the most recognized helicopter, by both look and sound. The very image of a Huey symbolizes an entire war - the Vietnam War. And with over 70 nations operating the UH-1, it is unquestionably the most prolific helicopter of all time.
Photo © Matthew Huppatz
So what do y'all think?