CH-46 Sea Knight
In service since 1964, the CH-46 is the oldest aircraft type still serving in Marine helo squadrons, a testament to the Sea Knight's design and capability. A tandem rotor aircraft colloquially known as the 'Phrog,' the CH-46 has been used for a number of missions including vertical replenishment and assault transport, and has participated in a myriad of crises over nearly five decades including the Vietnam War and Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
Naval Aviation's first tandem-rotor helicopter, the Piasecki HRP, appeared during World War II. Fabric covered and with a top speed of 104 mph, its ungainly appearance earned it the nickname 'Flying Banana.' Nevertheless, it was on the shoulders of this primitive helicopter that the Marine Corps first experimented with the concept of heliborne assault. In 1962, the service ordered another tandem-rotor design, the HRB (later CH-46), featuring a rear cargo-loading ramp, a top speed of 166 mph, and the ability to carry 4,000 lb. of cargo or 22 combat-equipped troops.
The first Sea Knights were delivered in June 1964, and entered combat in Vietnam during 1966. They served throughout the war despite being grounded for a brief time due to mechanical maladies, and over the course of the first true helicopter war, 106 leatherneck Sea Knights were lost to enemy fire. Known affectionately as the 'Phrog,' the helicopter has served the Marine Corps continuously since Vietnam. Typically, Marine Expeditionary Units operating on board amphibious assault ships include twelve CH-46s to transport leathernecks ashore. To this end, the Vietnam-era helicopters have responded to a myriad of crises over the course of the past three decades, including service in Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In addition to use by the Marine Corps, which will continue until the aircraft is fully replaced by the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey, the Navy operated the Sea Knight to vertically replenish ships at sea. Flying from fast combat support ships, three plane detachments carried everything from spare parts to food to ordnance to combatants during underway replenishment operations.
The Museum's CH-46A (Bureau Number 151952) last served in Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 6, Detachment 97, on board the combat stores ship Sylvania (AFS-2). It was flight delivered to the Museum by the squadron's commanding officer for donation.