The initial flight for the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter took place on September 21, 1961. Initially, the CH-47 was produced by Boeing Vertol, but production was eventually taken over by Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, current producers of the aircraft. While the Chinook is exported to over 16 different nations, the US Army and the British Royal Air Force remain the primary users.
One of the main features of the Chinook is the counter-rotating rotors. This design allows the chopper’s full power to be used for lift and thrust and eliminates the need for an anti-torque vertical rotor. The rotor design also gives the CH-47 proficiency in adjusting either of the two rotors making it much less susceptible to changes in its center of gravity. This feature is particularly important when cargo is aboard the aircraft.
Vietnam War and Other Conflicts
The Chinook was used extensively during the Vietnam War beginning in November of 1965. The CH-47 was capable of inserting artillery batteries and keeping them supplied in perilous mountainous areas which were otherwise, inaccessible. The main concerns of the initial Chinook design was its limited payload when operating in the mountainous regions, its initial limiting rotor system (preventing maximum use of its installed power) and the vigilance required in educating soldiers so they did not overload the large cargo area. Though its original intent was to be used as an assault troop carrier, it was soon discovered the Chinook proved most valuable for artillery transfer and heavy logistics. Some CH-47 helicopters in the Vietnam War were used to evacuate casualties and others to recover downed aircraft.
Iran used the Chinook in the 1970s during the First Persian Gulf War. Further conflicts in which the Chinook was utilized include the Falklands War and the Iraq War. The CH-47 is still in use today in Afghanistan on air assault missions. It is also used to insert troops and then maintain their supplies at the firebases. Other countries, such as Britain, Italy, Spain and Canada, have also used the Chinook in the Afghanistan War.
Chinook CH-47 Helicopter Specifications
- Crew: 3
- Cargo Capacity: 28,000 lbs.
- Troop Capacity: 33 – 55 Troops
- Maximum Take-off Weight: 26,680 lbs.
- Maximum Speed: 149 mph
- Range: 450 miles
- Combat Radius: 230 miles
- Rate of Climb: 1,522 feet/minute
- 1-3 pintel mounted medium machine guns such as the 7.62mm M240/FN MAG
The CH-47 Chinook is one of the few helicopters from the 1960s that remains in production and front line service. Today, the aircraft is generally escorted by the AH-64 Apache or other type attack helicopter for added protection. The demand for the CH-47 Chinook helicopter remains high even today, due to its versatility and its ability to operate in adverse environments.