In the 1950s, Bell Helicopter developed a turbine-engine powered utility tactical transport helicopter for the U.S. Army. This helicopter, then known as the XH-40, first flew in prototype form in 1956. When it entered service with the U.S. Army a few years later, it was the world’s first production helicopter with a turbine engine and it received the official U.S. Army designation of HU-1. This resulted in the nickname of “Huey” and the name stuck, even though the name was officially changed to UH-1B in 1962. Thus was born one of the great helicopter designs of all time, as well as the helicopter forever linked with the Vietnam War. The next step in the development of this helicopter was a fuselage stretch, an upgraded engine, an increased takeoff gross weight and many other improvements that resulted in the UH-1D. With the installation of the Honeywell T5313B, and some other improvements, this became the UH-1H. At the same time a commercial version, the Bell 205, was certificated.
A further popular upgrade was developed by Bell in 2003 that combined the UH-1H with a more powerful Honeywell engine (the T53-L-703) and the upgraded rotor and transmission system found on the Bell 212. This latest upgrade is called the Bell Huey II and is very similar to the commercial Bell 205 A-1++ and the new production Bell 210.
The Huey II is a medium single-engine turbine helicopter. It has a two-bladed teetering rotor derived from the rotor originally developed for the Bell 47 by Art Young. The blades are made of aluminum alloy. The engine used for this helicopter is a Honeywell (formerly Lycoming) T53-L-703. A two-bladed tail rotor provides directional control. The fuselage is made of conventional aluminum alloys and is mounted on a fixed skid gear. The cabin features two pilot seats up front and behind them is the passenger or cargo cabin. It has a flat floor and two very large sliding doors provide ready access to every part of the cabin. When used for passenger transport, it can seat up to 13.
The Huey II upgrades have improved the hot and high capability of this helicopter significantly when compared with the UH-1H or the Bell 205. These helicopters operate in the restricted category but are very popular for firefighting, logging and external lift missions.