Sikorsky created the HH-52 Seaguard by combining the proven rotor and drive system of his H-19 helicopter with a seaplane-type fuselage and the new General Electric T58 turboshaft engine. The fuselage design benefited from Sikorsky’s experience with conventional seaplanes dating back to the 1920s. The result was a helicopter more tailored to the Coast Guard’s at-sea rescue mission than before and clearly superior to the helicopters it replaced in mission performance: the powerful but light-weight turboshaft engine, significantly increased a helicopter's payload and speed capability compared to the reciprocating piston engine. Civil sales of the S-62 preceded use by the Coast Guard.
This amphibious workhorse helicopter served the U.S. Coast Guard for over 25 years. The aircraft has been credited with saving 15,000 lives and $1.5 billion in property loss and damage while in Coast Guard service from 1963 to 1989. Ninety-nine HH-52s were based on Coast Guard cutters, icebreakers, and air stations.
Note: The S-62 (HH-52) and S-61 (H-3) looked very similar, but the earlier S-61 was much larger and used two T58 engines.
By Tommy Thomason