Sikorsky S-61/SH-3 "Sea King"

The SH-3H helicopter was manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and designed to detect, identify, track and destroy enemy submarines. As an antisubmarine platform the H-3 is equipped with a dipping sonar and armed with Mark 46 torpedoes. The SH-3D Sea King was a standard antisubmarine helicopter of the US Navy. The Sea King is also capable of providing logistics support to the fleet and performing search and rescue operations. One hundred and five SH-3As were converted to utility duties by removing antisubmarine warfare equipment and adding a minigun for protection in combat search and rescue missions. The first version of this workhorse anti-submarine warfare helicopter was flown in 1959. The H-3's versatility was emphasized during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm when 36 SH-3Hs flying from carriers logged more than 5,000 hours conducting combat SAR, special operations, maritime interdiction operations, logistics support, and mine-hunting.


Sikorsky S-61A and S-61B
The first version of the S-61 ordered into production was the SH-3A (originally HSS-2) Sea King amphibious anti-submarine helicopter. The original US Navy contract for this aircraft was received on 23 September 1957; the prototype flew for the first time on 11 March 1959 and deliveries to the fleet began in September 1961. The S-61 series now includes a number of military and commercial variants, which are listed below:
SH-3A: Initial amphibious ASW version. Powered by two General Electric T58-GE-8B 932-kW (1,250 shp) turboshaft engines.
        SH-3D: Developed amphibious version for the US Navy with two General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines. First delivered in 1966.

        SH-3G: US Navy conversion of 105 SH-3As into utility helicopters. Conversion consisted of removing ASW equipment. Six were equipped with Minigun pods for SAR missions.
        SH-3H: Multipurpose version of SH-3A and SH-3G with two General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines. US Navy later awarded contract to convert these aircraft for ASW and anti-missile operations.
        UH-3A: Utility helicopter with two General Electric T58- GE-8B turboshaft engines.
        UH-3H: Utility version of the SH-3H.
        VH-3A: Passenger transport version of the SH-3A.
        VH-3D: Passenger transport version of the SH-3D.
        S-61A: Export version based on SH-3A also known as Nuri.
        S-61D: Export version of SH-3D.
        S-61L: Non amphibious configuration with modified landing gear, rotor head and stabilizer. Accommodates up to 30 passengers. First flight of prototype S-61L took place on 6 December 1960. Received FAA Type Approval on 2 November 1961. Mark II versions also built. Description
does not apply to this version specifically.
        S-61N: Similar to S-61L but with sealed hull and stabilizing floats (as on SH-3) for amphibious operation. Accommodates 26 to 28 passengers. First flight of the first S-61N was made on 7 August 1962. Mark II versions also built. Description does not apply to this version specifically.

        S-61R: (USA) Although based on the SH-3A, this amphibious transport helicopter intoduced many important design changes. They included provision for a hydraulically operated rear ramp for straight-in loading of wheeled vehicles; a 907 kg (2,000 lb) capacity winch for internal cargo handling; retractable tricycle-type landing gear; pressurized rotor blades for quick and easy inspection; gas-turbine auxiliary power supply for independent field operations; self-lubricating main and tail rotors; and the buit-in equipament for removal and replacement of all major components in remote areas. The first S-61R flew on 17 June 1963, followed by the first CH-3C a few weeks later. Deliveries have been made to USAF Aerospace Defense Command, Air Training Command, Tactical Air Command, Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service. Production by Sikorsky has ended, but S-61R variants continue to available from Augusta of Italy. There have been four Sikorsky-built versions, as listed below:

CH-3C Two 969.5 kW (1,300 shp) T58-GE-1 turboshaft engines. After a total of 41 had been built for the USAF, production was switched to the CH-3E. All aircraft delivered as CH-3Cs were modified to CH-3E standard.

CH-3E Designation applicable since 1966, following introduction of uprated engines (1,118 kW; 1,500 shp T58-GE-5s). A total of 42 was built as new aircraft to this standard.

HH-3E For USAF Aerospace Recue and Recovery Service. Additional equipment comprises armour, self-sealing fuel tanks, retractable flight-refuelling probe, defensive armament and rescue hoist. Two 1,118 kW (1,500 shp) T58-GE-5 turboshafts. A total of 50  HH-5Es was converted from CH-3Es and are known as Jolly Green Giants.

HH-3F Similar to HH-3E for US Coast Guard, which has given them name Pelican. It has advanced electronic equipment for search and rescue duties. No armour plate, armament or self-sealing tanks. Deliveries began in 1968 and a total of 40 was built.

        AS-61R Pelican: License-built version by Agusta of Italy. See separate entry in Italy section.
        ASH-3D: License-built version by Agusta of Italy. See separate entry in Italy section.
        ASH-3H: License-built version by Agusta of Italy. See separate entry in Italy section.
        ASH-3TS: License-built version by Agusta of Italy. See separate entry in Italy section.
        HSS-2A: License-built version of SH-3D by Mitsubishi of Japan.
        HSS-2B: License-built version of SH-3H by Mitsubishi of Japan.
        Westland Sea King/Commando: License-built version by Westland Helicopters (now GKN Westland Helicopters). See separate entry in United Kingdom section.

Sikorsky VH-3D (S-61) and Sikorsky CH-53E Sikorsky VH-3D (S-61) and Sikorsky CH-53E (the big one) at Wall Street Downtown Heliport. New York. Emergency trucks from airports are loaned out whenever President comes to town. In this case a special fuel truck was procured as well.


Acro Aerospace: Canadian Forces Air Command CH-124 Sea King re-engine programme. See separate entry in Canada section under Acro Aerospace.
        Aero Services: Sikorsky S-61 interior upgrade. See separate entry in South Africa section.
        Aerosud: Sikorsky S-61 long-range tank and engine dust filter upgrades. See separate entry in South Africa section.
        Airod: Sikorsky S-61A Nuri Upgrade. See separate entry in Malaysia section.
        Canada: In addition to the engine upgrade being carried out by Acro Aerospace (which see) the Canadian Armed Forces have acquired surplus ASN-123 TACNAV systems for US$8.6 million. These systems will be retrofitted into the 22 CH-124A helicopters. These aircraft are also being upgraded with Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) capability.
        CASA: SH-3D AEW Installed THORN EMI Searchwater AEW radars in Spanish Navy SH-3D helicopters. Work started in 1986. Entered service in August 1987.
        Helipro: S-61 Shortsky. See separate entry in USA section.
        Pall Aerospace: Engine Air Particle Separator (EAPS). See separate entry in United Kingdom section.
        Sikorsky: Awarded contract to manufacture, deliver and install crash survivable flight incident recorder retrofit kits into the US Navy VH-3D and VH-60N helicopters. Contract is expected to be completed by August 1999.


Versions of the Sikorsky S-61 are in service with the armed forces of the following countries: Argentina (1); Australia (7); Belgium (5); Brazil (13); Canada (30); Denmark (8); Egypt (13); Germany (20); India (26); Iran (12); Iraq (3); Italy (56); Japan (48); Libya (1); Malaysia (32);
Namibia (1); Norway (12); Pakistan (6); Qatar (11); Saudi Arabia (2); Spain (10); UK (145); USA (74); and Venezuela (4).

The following details apply to the SH-3D Sea King, but are generally applicable to other versions except for accommodation and equipment:

Design Features
Five-blade main rotor. Flanged cuffs on blades bolted to matching flanges rotor head. Main rotor blades are interchangeable and are provided with an automatic powered folding system. Five-blade tail rotor. Tail section folds to reduce stowage requirements. Fixed stabilizer on starboard side of tail section.

Flying Controls

Rotor brake standard.


Boat hull of all-metal semi-monocoque construction. Single step. All-metal fully articulated oil-lubricated main rotor. All-steel rotor head. All-metal tail rotor. Steel drive shafts.

Landing Gear

Amphibious. Land gear consists of two twin-wheel main units, which are retracted rearward hydraulically into stabilizing floats, and non-retractable tailwheel. Oleo- pneumatic shock-absorbers. Goodyear main wheels and tubeless tires size 6.50-10 type III, pressure 4.83 bars (70
lb/sq in). Goodyear tailwheel and tire size 6.00-6. Goodyear hydraulic disc brakes. Boat hull and pop-out flotation bags in stabilizing floats permit emergency operation from water.

Power Plant

Two 1,044 kW (1,400 shp) General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines. Three bladder-type fuel tanks in hull; forward tank 1,314 liters (347 US gallons; 289 Imp gallons), center tank 530 liters (140 US gallons; 116 Imp gallons), rear tank 1,336 liters (353 US gallons; 293 Imp gallons). Total fuel capacity 3,180 liters (840 US gallons; 699 Imp gallons). Refueling point on port side of fuselage. Oil capacity 26.5 liters (7 US gallons; 5.83 Imp gallons). Both engines drive through freewheel units and rotor brake to main gearbox. Tail rotor shaft driven through intermediate and tail gearbox. Accessories driven by power take-off on tail rotor shaft. Additional freewheel units
between accessories and port engine. Main rotor/engine rpm ratio 1: 93.43. Tail rotor/engine rpm ratio 1: 16.7.


Pilot and co-pilot on flight deck, two sonar operators in main cabin. Dual controls. Crew door at rear of flight deck on port side. Large loading door at rear of cabin on starboard side.


Primary and auxiliary hydraulic systems, pressure 103.5 bars (1,500 lb/sq in), for flying controls. Utility hydraulic system, pressure 207 bars (3,000 lb/sq in), for landing gear, winches and blade folding. Pneumatic system, pressure 207 bars (3,000 lb/sq in), for blow-down emergency landing gear extension. Electrical system includes one 300 A DC generator, two 20 kVA 115 A AC
generators and 24 V 22 Ah battery. APU optional.

Avionics and Equipment

Bendix AQS-13 sonar with 180º search beam width. Hamilton Standard auto-stabilization equipment. Automatic transition into hover. Sonar coupler holds altitude automatically in conjunction with Teledyne APN-130 Doppler radar (Litton AN/APS-503 in CH-124) and radar
altimeter. Provision for 272 kg (600 lb) capacity rescue hoist and 3,630 kg (8,000 lb) capacity automatic touchdown-release low-response cargo sling for external loads.

Provision for 381 kg (840 lb) of weapons, including homing torpedoes.

Brazilian's Sea King
After the incorporation of the aircraft carrier Minas Gerais to the Brazilian Navy (Marinha do Brazil) in 1961, a great effort was undertaken by the armed forces to equip the country with modern aircraft  for the anti-submarine  role (ASW) and improve tactics in this direction. However, the effective employment of AS helicopter took place only in 1965 after the creation of Esquadrão de Helicópteros Anti-Submarino  Esqd HS-1(AS Helicopter Squadron). Nowadays, besides the traditional AS tasks like detecting, locating, pursuing, and attacking submarines, surfaces targets are part of the Squadron objectives. Currently, the Esqd HS-1 uses two hangars at São Pedro d'Aldeia Navy base in Rio de Janeiro State. Seven SH-3A and six SH-3B comprise the aircraft fleet of Esqd HS-1. The SH-3A came from Italy (The blue painting scheme below) and are capable of launching the MAS AM-39 Exocet. All SH-3B were originally operated in the United States and are equipped with a AQS-18V sonar of superior performance when compared to the AQS-13B one of the SH-3As.




Length:  57'. 5" Width:  7'8" Height:  17'5" M/R Dia.:  62'


Maximum Gross Weight: 20,500 lbs.
Average basic weight: 11,500 lbs.
External sling load: 10,000 lbs
Fuel capacity: 4,250 lbs
Fuel consumption: 1,050 lbs/hr
Average cruise speed: 115 mph
Maximum range: 408 nm with 30 min. fuel reserve
Passenger seats: 18 passengers plus 2 pilots


Two GE CT58-140


Wheel type landing gear


Basic weight: 10,700 lbs.
Full fuel: 4,250 lbs.
Pilots: 360 lbs.
Max. gross weight: 20,502 lbs.
Minus operating weight: 10,170 lbs.
Total payload: 9,800 lbs. (Full fuel)


77' x 77' deck size (normal ops) 64' x 64' deck size (restricted ops)


VHF Radio Communications GPS Navigational Equipment
Cargo Hook FM Radio


Distance vs. Fuel Required = Payload & Flight Time





(Round trip)




270nm/310 miles 666 lbs 674 lbs 2:35
260nm/300 miles 607 lbs 733 lbs 2:20
217nm/250 miles 520 lbs 820 lbs 2:00
174nm/200 miles 433 lbs 907 lbs 1:35
130nm/150 miles 368 lbs 978 lbs 1:10
87nm /100 miles 281 lbs 1,059 lbs :50
44nm /50 miles 194 lbs 1,146 lbs :25
*includes 30 min. reserve




Please note that all information is provided without any guarantees