In August of 1962, the Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter took its initial flight. This medium lift aircraft with a tandem rotor was designed as a transport helicopter which could be used in all types of weather, day or night. The CH-46 Sea Knight was versatile and used for a variety of purposes:
- Transport combat troops
- Transport supplies and equipment
- Search and rescue missions
- Support forward refueling and rearming points
- Assault Aircraft
- Tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel
Design and Development
The birth of the CH-46 began back in 1955, when Vertol started to work on a newly designed helicopter that would incorporate a tandem rotor and two turbo-shaft engines. Design changes were implemented over the next few years and in 1960, Boeing acquired Vertrol. In 1961, the US Marine Corps procured the Sea Knight later introducing it into its fleet as the CH-46A. In November of 1964, the US Navy also took an interest in the aircraft with additional design changes to accommodate their needs. The Navy designated it the UH-46A.
The Sea Knight was designed with a ramp at the rear for loading and unloading and could be left open for parachute drops or to expand cargo space. The CH-46 also has a belly sling hook attachment, which allows it to carry external cargo.
Several variants followed over the years increasing overall size, troop and cargo capabilities.
Operational History of the CH-46
Since being introduced, the US Marines have used the Sea Knight (aka: Phrog) both in combat and in peacetime. In late 1967, the CH-46D variant was introduced in Vietnam and used to replace the earlier Sea Knight CH-46A, which was proving unreliable. The Sea Knight was used in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq and in a search a rescue mission to safely extract Army Private Jessica Lynch from a hospital in Iraq. In addition to the United States, variants of this aircraft have been used by Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Sweden and Thailand.
Specifications on Variant CH-46E
- Crew: Total of 5
- Capacity: 25 combat troops
- Maximum Take-off Weight: 24,300 lbs.
- Maximum Speed: 166 miles per hour
- Range Capacity: 633 miles
- Rate of Climb: 1,715 feet per minute
In all, 524 of the Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight Helicopters were built between 1962 and 1971. Many of these aircraft are still being used today both in the United States and abroad.