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Frank Piasecki exhibition — home



Piasecki H-21 is probably the best known of Frank Piasecki's designs. Originally conceived as arctic rescue helicopter, its prototype first flew on 11th April 1952. It displayed Piasecki's trademark tandem-rotor configuration and was powered by the famous radial Wright R-1820 engine rated at 1445 hp. The helicopter could carry up to 20 soldiers, 12 wounded on strechers or 2,520 kg of equipment.

U.S. Air Force pilot Captain Russell M. Dobyns beat helicopter world records in speed (234.7 km/h) and altitude (22,110 feet) flying an H-21. The aircraft was used operationally by French Air Force, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, German Air Force and several other users. In French service it took part in the Algierian War, in transport and ground support roles.

American Army named its H-21s Shawnee and Air Force chose the name Work Horse, although it was unoficially known as "flying banana" due to its having a long and curved canopy. A U.S. Army H-21 Amblin' Annie became the first rotorcraft to cross the United States non-stop. The helicopter was used in the initial phases of the Vietnam War (1961-65). Following French example, apart from transporting troops and cargo the H-21 was armed and used for ground support until new types, better adapted to the climate and combat conditions, became available.

Specifications (H-21B Shawnee)

rotor diameter: 44 ft (13.41 m)
fuselage length: 52 ft 6 in (16.01 m)
max. takeoff weight: 14,700 lb (6,668 kg)
max. speed: 131 mph (114 kn, 211 km/h)
ceiling: 7,740 ft (2,360 m)
max. range: 400 mi (348 nmi, 644 km)
powerplant: Wright R-1820-103 Cyclone engine rated at 1,445 hp