The Kaman HH-43B Huskie is a (now retired) military helicopter that saw primary use as a firefighting and rescue helicopter. It was manufactured by Kaman Aircraft.
Following World War II, synchropter expert Anton Flettner was brought to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip. Flettner became the chief designer for the American Kaman company where he set about designing new synchropter aircraft.
The Huskie resulted from Flettner’s efforts and the first prototype flew as early as 1947. The piston-engined HTK-1 version was soon adopted by the US Navy. Later, as an experiment, Flettner took out the piston engines in one unit and replaced them with twin turbine engines, making the Huskie the first ever twin-turbine helicopter.
The design of the Huskie was unique, with contra-rotating main rotors removing the need for a tail rotor and providing exceptional lift and stability for its class. It made use of servo flaps to effect control. Later there was also a variant with a single turboshaft engine.
The Huskie’s superior hovering ability made it a prime choice for rescue missions and consequently the HH-43 variant (so named for its rescue role) flew more rescues than all aircraft combined during the Vietnam War. In total the HH-43 completed 888 combat rescues. It was known by its radio call sign “Pedro” during that conflict. In the early years of the Vietnam War the HH-43B was the largest and fastest helicopter in the Air Force inventory.
The HH-43B has a single Lycoming T53-L-1A which produces 860 horsepower. It’s speed and range make it useful for short- and medium- range overland operations. Which suited its mission of rescue and firefighting in South East Asia perfectly.
The Huskie was retired soon after its role in the Vietnam war, being decommissioned in the early 1970s. Ending an operational life that began in the early 1950s. Each unit cost approximately 300 000 USD.