May 2013

May Calendar 2013U.S. Coast Guard/Sikorsky HU2S-1G/HH-52A Seaguard
S-62 prototype first flight: May 22, 1958

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

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