Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More photos of Seawolf 324

More photos of Seawolf 324 before and during the restoration project. The first photos show the aircraft in the bone yard. In the top photo you can still see some of the air deflector plate mounted on the forward side of the left door. We used this piece to made two new ones that are now on 324.

An original Seawolf tail boom with NAVY as painted on in Vietnam.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The History of Seawolf 324

This Bell UH-1B was built in 1963, delivered to the Army in October 1964 and assigned Bureau Number 63-12923. The early history is incomplete, but it was in Vietnam in early 1965 based upon two action reports:

  • April 8, 1965 took three hits in the skid. The Aircraft Commander was Gordon L. Stone. Repaired at the unit level.

  • April 27, 1965 it was brought down by small arms fire, resulting in 1 wounded. It is believed that the helicopter was assigned to A/501 AVN during this first tour in Vietnam.

From the limited information available, it appears to have had major damage and was sent back to the States for repairs. After being repaired, it remained in the USA.

October 1966 it was assigned to the 6th Army at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah until March of 1967 when it was sent back to Vietnam with the lst Cavalry Division. Assigned to the 11th General Support Company for 7 months and then with A/1/9 (A Troop, 1st Squadron, 9th Air Cavalry) for three months until it was damaged in February 1968. Rebuilt by the 388th Trans. Co. in country. Then tranferred from the Army to the Navy Seawolves in November 1968.

It was damaged and sent back to Bell Helicopter in Amarillo, TX for repairs from October 1969 to November 19, 1970 when it was returned to the Seavolves in Vietnam. Aircraft hours were 3198.0 at this time. It was flown by Seawolf Detachment 9 and given Modex #324.

Names in the logbooks in 1970 and 1971:
M.C. Turner, AZ3
L. Havner, AZ2
David M Charter, AZAM
W.P. Bennett, AZ2
T. E. Claytor, AZ1
M. Lockey, AFCM

A photo of 324 at Phu Loi during maintenance.

According to Seawolf records it was damaged by 75mm recoilless rifle fire while aboard YRBM-21 on May 28, 1971. The damage must have been minor and repaired locally because other flight hour recrods indicate it was not out of service for very long.

This was received from a Seawolf crewmember Gary Ely.
I was aboard YRBM 21 when it was hit and these aircraft were damaged. Your assumption is correct about how 324 was damaged. Another interesting note was that 324 was acually used for an emergency Medivac right after the attack. We checked for static leaks found none, turned it up and checked again, and with the absense of leaks and significant structural damsge decided to make the run to Binh Thuy (3rd Surgical Hospital) with an injured sailor. That was probably its last hop for the month of May. I probably have some photos and if you need any more info if let me know.

The last flight in the military logbooks was on February 29, 1972 by HA(L)-3 when they returned the helicopter to the 388th Transportation Company in Vietnam for shipment back to the USA.

It arrived back in the USA. in June 1972. In maintenance until October 1973 when it was loaned to NASA Langley Research Center until August 1975. No flights logged during this period.

Along with hundreds of other Hueys, it was placed in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ with 4390 total flight hours.

It was sold by the Army on September 23, 1991 to J. H. Helicopters in Tucson as part of a block of surplus UH-1B helicopters for the sum of $611.57 each. Overseas Aircraft Support purchased the airframe as part of a package of 13 Hueys in 1995 where it remained in outdoor storage until 2007.

Overseas Aircraft also owns UH-1B 62-4604, Seawolf 305 and 64-13919, Seawolf 306 which are still in outdoor storage. These are not complete aircraft, as they are missing many major parts and components that went to make other Hueys flyable.

John Boucher of Overseas Aircraft decided to restore this UH-1B to the original Seawolf gunship configuration. This project involved thousands of man-hours for sheet metal, wiring, hydraulics, paint and assembly. The T53-L-11D engine was first started on May 7, 2008 and was hovered briefly on May 10, 2008, but FAA paperwork prevented it from flying and becoming part of Flying Thunder 2008.

HAL(3) logo on the nose compartment door.

UPDATE: October 2009. Seawolf 324 has all the correct FAA paperwork, registrations and airworthiness certificates. It is being prepared to fly again and the armament package is being assembled with a M134 Mini Gun on the left flex mount, a .50 cal door gun on the right side, 7 shot rocket pods and much more. Watch for more updates.

Special thanks to members of the Seawolves Association for help with the history of this helicopter and for providing photos and equipment that is enableing Overseas Aircraft to return this gunship to the original Vietnam colors and configuration.

For more information about the Seawolves and HAL(3) go to this website: