The Bell 47 first flew on 8th December 1945 and entered service with the US military in 1946. In 1949 it held the altitude record for a helicopter with a height of 18,500 feet. It went on to serve with much success during the 1950s Korea (MAS*H) and the 1950s to 1970s in Vietnam.
It entered service with the British Military in 1964 when the Army bought 30 Bell 47s, now called the Sioux, from Augusta in Italy, followed by a further 250 built by Westland Helicopters in Yeovil. These were all designated Sioux AH1. A further 15 were built as AH2 and these went to the RAF for use as training helicopters; they had a different radio fit and extra flight instruments.
The Sioux has a 6-cylinder Lycoming TVO 435-B1A engine which is turbocharged and produces 270 bhp. The maximum speed is 91 knots / 105 mph and the cruising speed is about 70 knots. This gives the Sioux a range of 250 nautical miles and an endurance of 2 hours 30 mins.
They remained in service with the British Military until June 1977. The Sioux was extremely versatile and was used in many roles in the UK, Germany, the Middle East and the Far East. Roles included: Air Observation Post (AOP) for the Royal Artillery, local reconnaissance, casualty evacuation, light liaison, under slung loads, operations from ships, pilot training and photography.
The Historic Army Aircraft Flight Sioux is XT131 which arrived at Middle Wallop in 1964 as a training aircraft and has remained ever since.
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