1946 Bell 47 / H-13E “Sioux”
The Bell 47 is a two-bladed, single engine, light helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. Based on the third Model 30 prototype, Bell’s first helicopter designed by Arthur M. Young, the Bell 47 became the first helicopter certified for civilian use on 8 March 1946. More than 5,600 Bell 47 aircraft were produced, including aircraft produced under license by Agusta in Italy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan, and Westland Aircraft in the United Kingdom.
Early models were variable in appearance, with open cockpits or sheet metal cabins, fabric covered or open structures, some with four-wheel landing gear. Later model D and Korean War H-13D and E types settled to a more utilitarian style. The most common model, the 47G introduced in 1953, can be recognized by the full bubble canopy, exposed welded-tube tail boom, saddle fuel tanks, and skid landing gear.
Engines were Franklin or Lycoming vertically-mounted piston engines of 200 to 305 HP (150 to 230 kW). Seating varied from two (early 47s and the later G-5A) to four (the J and KH-4). As of 2005, many are still in use as trainers and in agriculture.
Bell 47s were produced in Japan by a Bell and Kawasaki venture; this led to the Kawasaki KH-4 variant, a four seat version of the Model 47 with a cabin similar to the Bell 47J. It differed from the “J” in having a standard uncovered tailboom and fuel tanks like the G series. They were sold throughout Asia, and some were used in Australia.
In the spring of 2010, the Bell 47 Type Certificates were transferred to Scott’s – Bell 47, Inc. Scott’s – Bell 47 is now responsible for providing product support for the Bell 47 helicopter.
Little is known of the history of our H-13E. The data plate was removed long ago. It was determined to be a military model based on certain characteristics that were not sold with civilian versions. What we do know, is that the aircraft was declared surplus by the Connecticut National Guard and arrived at the Connecticut State Aviation School sometime in the early 1970's. This particular airframe was used to instruct students not only in helicopter theory and operation, but in the uses of piston type engines in rotary wing aircraft. Over the years the H-13E was disassembled, worked on, and then put back together numerous times by the students.
The H-13E was also painted in various color schemes over the years to demonstrate techniques and corrosion control. After seeing many years of student learning, this H-13E was finally retired to the back storage lot as newer type piston helicopters became avliable. Over the years, corrosion, weather, and vandalism have taken their toll.
It was restored in-part by the school before arriving at the Connecticut Air & Space Center. The helicopter still requires some parts and work to finish it. Most importantly the iconic plexi-glass bubble. The Bell 47G / H-13E is expected to be completed by 2023.