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Sikorsky H-34

Sikorsky H-34 Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2006 Title Sikorsky H-34
Author Lennart Lundh Publisher Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
Published 1998 ISBN 0-7643-0522-0
Format 160 pages, Softbound MSRP (USD) $24.95


Sikorsky's S-58 design was one of the most widely used helicopters in the world, but in its early days it almost didn't come into being. As with many aircraft developments, unless you have a military contract to get things started, the average aircraft company didn't have the money to launch their own development program. The Bell HSL-1 had won the US Navy's ASW helicopter contract. Piasecki's H-21 tandem rotor helicopter had been selected for USAF and US Army service, while Sikorsky's own S-56/H-37 was the aircraft of choice for the USMC. In a strange twist of fate, the Army couldn't get H-21s fast enough, so they acquired the S-58. The USN found the Bell unsuitable and also ordered S-58s. Even Sikorsky's S-56 was having problems and the USMC bought the S-58. While in the early days, each service had its own aircraft designation system, after 1962, all of these aircraft would become the H-34.

The S-58/H-34 was powered by the R1820 air-cooled radial engine. Sikorsky later offered re-engining kits to power the aircraft with the very reliable Pratt Whitney PT6 turbine engine. The aircraft was also built under license by Westland in the United Kingdom and operated as the Wessex. Westland also developed a Rolls Royce turbine engine conversion for their aircraft.

This title has gathered a significant amount of information on this aircraft from its early developments through the ongoing careers in the civilian world. Author Lennart Lundh tells the story of the H-34 from concept, through operations around the world, through its retirement in military service, and through its continued civilian use. The title is well illustrated with color and black & white images of the aircraft in action. Coverage includes:

  • Nuts and Bolts
  • Crew Notes
  • Argentina
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • Haiti
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Katanga
  • Laos
  • Netherlands
  • Nicaragua
  • Philippines
  • Soviet Union
  • Thailand
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Vietnam and Cambodia
  • Pre- and Post-service
  • Appendices

This is an excellent reference for the aviation historian as well as the modeler.

Definitely recommended!