One of the earlier military helicopters, the Bell H-13 Sioux was a light helicopter whose design was developed from the Bell 47.  It was used mainly as an observational aircraft in the early part of the Vietnam War and more recently gained fame when a late-model variant (Bell 47G) appeared in the television series M*A*S*H.


Orders from the US Military

The prototype for the H-13 – the Bell 47 – was first flown on December 8, 1945.  Production of this two-bladed, single engine H-13 later began when the USAAF placed an order in 1947 for an improved version of the 47A model.   They were designated YR-13 and YR-13A (for the winterized version).  In 1948, the US Army requested Bell 47s which would be designated as H-13.  Eventually, the helicopters were eventually given the name Sioux.


From 1947 to 1958, the US Navy obtained a number of Bell 47s designating them HTL-1.  Other variants were also used by the Navy as well as the US Coast Guard.


Brief Design Overview

The Sioux was designed as a basic training helicopter.  It would seat three people and could be easily identified by its full bubble canopy.  Another recognizable feature of the Sioux helicopter was its exposed, welded-tube tail boom and saddle-type fuel tanks.  Variants equipped for medical evacuations had acrylic glass attached to each skid to provide wind protection to the injured being transported.



  • Crew Capacity:  1-3
  • Maximum Speed:  105 mph with a cruise speed of 84 mph
  • Range:  273 miles
  • Service Ceiling:  16,100 feet


Armament (OH-1 Variant):

  • Twin M37C .30cal machine guns (or)
  • Twin M60 Machine guns

While the OH-1 could be equipped with the above armament, it is believed the recoil on the guns put too big a strain on the engine and therefore, they were rarely fortified.


Primary users of the Bell H-13 Sioux helicopter included the U S Army, US Air Force, US Navy and British Army, though variants have been used throughout the world in over four dozen countries.


3 Responses to Bell H-13 Sioux Helicopter

  1. edward ginnegar says:

    I crew chiefed 3 h-13 helicoptors as an e-5 in Augsburg Germany 1959 1961 . All of ours were equipted with the m-60 solinoid triger arangement .We accually installed the cradle and gun mounts ,with the handle in the cocpit for actuating the guns. firing button was on the cyclic stick .my outfit was the 24th aviation co. at Augsburg Army Airfield .At the time we had 9 operational h-13s on the field . Along with Otters , Beavers and l-19s.The little bell was a great flying machine ,and as a crew chief I flew all over Germany and France with my toolbox in it along with1200 rounds of blank ammunition .It was peace time and we made many demonstration at local small shows for the population . My helicoptors plus one more were dress up as girl and boy and did a square dance at these shows . we also participated at the 1960 air show in Paris .I am still trying to find out what happened to my owm s/n 576222 . Thank You EDWARD GINNEGAR

  2. Dick Lavanture says:

    Good morning. We are in real need of a Helicopter Tech Manual to complete a full restoration back to military specs. Any help will be greatly appreciated. We can pay for CD or printed copy. This is for a Bell Helicopter 1951 H-13 Sioux.

    TM 55-1520-204-34P-1

    Thank you.

    Dick Lavanture
    PO Box 10
    Bristol, In 46507

    Bell 47 Assoc. member 694

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>