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The CH-53, manufactured by Sikorsky, is the largest United States helicopter currently deployed. The U.S.M.C. calls it the Super Stallion and the U.S. Navy calls it the Sea Dragon.
It is used primarily as a heavy lift vehicle, although the Navy uses a version of the helicopter as a mine sweeper as shown in the picture above.
The Israeli Air Force has been operating the CH-53 for years. Constant upgrades and improvements will keep it operational with the IAF for at least another ten years.
Recently CH-53 helicopters played a role in the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. They were also instrumental in transporting U.S. Marine troops during the U.S. invasion of Grenada. The helicopters were used extensively after 1967 during the Vietnam War, often operating under fire.
In 1958 the concept of the CH-53 heavy lift helicopter was proposed. By November of 1958 an official order was issued to replace the HR2S helicopter.
In January of 1961 the U.S.A.F., U.S. Navy and U.S. Army agreed to jointly develop a Vertical Take Off and Landing vehicle. By August of 1961 the U.S. Navy withdrew from the agreement.
In March of 1962 a R.F.Q. was issued to manufacturers for the helicopter. By May of 1962 both Sikorsky and Vertol responded. In August of 1962 Sikorsky beat out Vertol for the CH-53 helicopter.
The first prototype CH-53 took to the sky on October 14, 1964. Deliveries began in September of 1966.
To facilitate the movement of cargo, the inside deck of the CH-53 is equipped with rollers. Its engine intakes are equipped with filters for dusty landing zones. Exhausts use infra-red suppression as a defense against enemy missiles. The rotor blades and tail boom can be folded for storage or transport. The latest CH-53 avionics include FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Radar) and ground tracking radar. The range of the helicopter can be extended with the addition of two external 450 gallon fuel tanks.
Flying the CH-53:
"To best describe what flying the CH-53 is like, I first must say "smooth". The rotor system, when all blades are adjusted to keep the same "tip path plane", gives a very smooth flight, unlike other rotor systems that have a characteristic "lope" or vibration. For the size of the aircraft, control response is excellent, even at slow speeds.
The "A" models with less powerful engines made you watch the loads and density altitudes you were operating in a little closer. The "D" (and Super 'A') models with their more powerful engines, characterized by a trail of dark smoke from the tailpipe in flight, were very capable.
Hovering in the CH-53 always seemed easier than in smaller helicopters and once you have the "picture" of its nose-high hover attitude, a smooth stick action with small corrections gives great control.
Things you "had to watch out for" list with the CH-53 was probably topped by the diameter of the main rotors, keeping them away from ship's antennas or superstructure when landing and keeping plenty of safety factor in your distances between aircraft during formation flying."
James C. "Smokey" Robinson
June, 1971 December, 1976
Versions of the CH-53 have been used by the U.S.M.C. as an assault ship, by Germany as a heavy transport, and by the U.S.A.F. for search and rescue.
After the United States, Germany is the next biggest user of CH-53 helicopters. They are built there under license.
The latest version of the helicopter, the CH-53K, will be powered by three 7,500 shp engines and have a maximum weight of 84,700 lbs. It is currently undergoing testing, with deployment anticipated in 2018.
RC CH-53 from Vario.
Vario's rc CH-53 fuselage kit is for turbine power. It consists of 16 pieces and includes retractable landing gear. Length is 80", width is 18", and height is 21". It uses a 79" rotor and weighs around 40 lbs. upon completion.
RC CH-53 from Darth's Heli Bodies.
The rc CH-53 fuselage kit from Darth's Heli Bodies is for 450 size mechanics.
RC CH-53 built by David McGirth.
The rc CH-53 built by David Mc Girth features a custom built fuselage by Lars Zander. It has a 71" length, is 17" wide and 15" high. The six blade main rotors are 35" long. The four blade tail rotor features 7.75" long blades.
RC CH-53 built by Mr. Hino.
The rc CH-53 from Mr. Hino is a 1/48 scale helicopter that was converted from an Academy plastic display kit. It features a 6 blade rotor with a diameter of 19.7". Power is by an AXI 2212 motor for the main rotor and a Feigao 12 motor for the tail rotor.
Heinz Hoffmann rc CH-53.
The 1:11 scale rc CH-53 built by Heinz Hoffmann is powered by a Webra 120 engine turning a 65.5" diameter 6 blade main rotor.
RC CH-53 from RC Aerodyne.
The rc CH-53 fiberglass fuselage in a 500 size for sale by RC Aerodyne includes retracts. Length is 39", width is 12 1/2", and height is 12". Ready to fly weight should be about 5 1/2 lbs.
Dany Golan and his rc CH-53.
The rc CH-53 project by Dany Golan is scratch built, intended for scratch built electric power mechanics, with a six blade rotor head. Length is about 100" and weight should be around 44 lbs. You can find the build thread at Scale RC Helis.
High Torque has a rc CH-53 fuselage that fits Piccolo mechanics.
DDS Modelltechnik has a rc CH-53 with a 72" main rotor.
Email us about your favorite rc CH-53.