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Sikorsky CH-54A Skycrane

Sikorsky CH-54A Tarhe Skycrane

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The CH-54 was produced in two versions; A and B. The Museum’s Tarhe is an A version, one of at least 54 built. Tarhe is a Wyandotte Indian word meaning “crane.” The Skycrane was first flown in 1962. It was initially designed as a military heavy-transport helicopter. Interchangeable rectangular box-shaped cargo pods allowed it to perform many diverse jobs. The Skycrane has been used as a troop transport, cargo transport, and missile transport. It has also been used to lay mines, anti-submarine duties, and field hospital operations.

The pods were fitted with communications, ventilation, and lighting systems. Wheels were also installed to make moving them easier. A pod could hold up to 45 fully equipped combat troops.

The Skycrane proved itself a reliable workhorse during the Vietnam War. It saved the military approximately 210 million dollars by retrieving more than 380 damaged aircraft. Tarhes were also used as rotary-wing bombers on several occasions, carrying and dropping 10,000 pound “daisy cutter” bombs, used to create landing zones by flattening just about everything within an area several hundred yards in diameter.

We have little in the way of military records on our CH-54A. It is serial number 67-18424, which tells us the helicopter was procured with Fiscal Year 1967 funds. We also know it flew with the 137th Army Aviation Group, Kansas Army National Guard at Forbes Field during part of its military service.

The Museum acquired the Tarhe on loan from the US Army as surplus federal property in 1991. It was ferried to Forbes by a US Army crew from Fort Indian Gap (Anneville), Pennsylvania in December of that year. When the Kansas Army National Guard, south of our Museum, used to fly the CH-54, they transported three of the aircraft in the Museum’s collection to Topeka, the F11F-1 Blue Angel Tiger, the F-84F Thunderstreak, and the F-86H Sabre.

Although no longer in US military service, many Skycranes fly commercially in heavy lift service, forestry service, and as aerial firefighters, hauling large buckets of water or fire retardant to a fire.

This helicopter is on loan from the US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, Warren, Michigan

Manufacturer: Sikorsky
Basic Role: Twin-turbine heavy flying crane helicopter
Crew: Pilot and co-pilot side by side, aft-facing seat for third pilot (third pilot takes control during loading and unloading)
Engines: Two Pratt and Whitney T73-P-1 (A) or T73-P-700 (B) turboshaft engines.
Maximum speed at sea level: 126 m.p.h. (203km/hr)
Cruising Speed: 105 m.p.h. (169km/hr)
Max. Range: 230 miles (327km)
Ceiling: 9,000 feet (2,743m).
Diameter of main rotor: 72 feet (21.9m)
Diameter of tail rotor: 16 feet ( 4.9m)
Overall length: 88 feet, 6 inches (27m)
Empty weight: 19,234 lb. ( 8,725kg)
Max Takeoff weight: 42,000 lb. (19,051kg)
Armament: None
Serial number: US Army s/n 67-18424
Sikorsky Skycrane
Recovery of Grumman F-11F aircraft from Lawrence airportCollage of photos from recovery of Grumman F-11F from Lawrence airport
June 1980 Recovery of CAM's Grumman F-11F Blue Angel Tiger from Lawrence Airport
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