Navy Seawolves
 
Aircraft
Journal American Aviation Historical Society, Winter, 1988

The Gunships
Markings
List of Aircraft
Seawolves Down
Scott Kraska's Seawolf Restoration
Partial List of Aircraft Serial Numbers (from Army Records)
Sealord History







The Gunships

The Bell UH-1 armed helicopters operated by HA(L)-3 were, in most respects, straight line Army machines. Temporarily surplused from the Army inventory, these helicopters had usually already seen a lot of long and hard use. Those received directly from the Army units in Vietnam most often required a good deal of repair and rejuvenation before being sent out into Naval service. Others received from the Army's overhaul depot in Corpus Christi, Texas, were generally in much better condition. "Navalizing" these helicopters was relatively simple involving addition of the specialized door gun mounts and a radar altimeter. The radar altimeter was a crucial piece of equipment, for operating over the flat delta terrain in bad weather, at night, in the absence of a good horizon reference, required precision altitude indications. This was especially true when recovering aboard the support ships at night as landing aids were very rudimentary. A shortage of radar altimeters plagued the squadron for many months so that they were rationed to those dets which operated off the boats, and even then it was not unusual to find only one helicopter in a det with this specialized instrument.

The UH-1B, which formed the backbone of the squadron's aircraft assets, was powered by a Lycoming T53-L-11 engine and incorporated a standard Bell UH-1 rotor head. In 1970 a few UH-1C's found their way into HA(L)-3. The UH-1C, although equipped with the same engine as the B, used a new flex beam main rotor which provided easier maintenance and some improvement in maneuverability. But more importantly, the "Charlie" model incorporated an increase in both gross weight (+1,000 pounds) and fuel capacity (+77 gallons) which combined to expand operational capability.

Still another improvement was the UH-1M, the first examples of which were introduced into the unit on 15 June 1971. Essentially a UH-1C equipped with the Lycoming T53-L-13 powerplant, the "Mike" model's additional 300 horsepower offered some slight improvement in the squadron's performance ability. As the Seawolf gunships were rarely flown at anywhere less than over the maximum gross weight, any increase in engine performance was a much needed commodity. It was planned for HA(L)-3 to equip entirely with the Mike model, but the heavy demand for this engine (also used on the UH-1H and AH-1G) kept the Navy on the low side of the priority list. By December 1971, only 11 of the Seawolve's gunships were UH-1M's.

Markings

The UH1B, C, and M gunships transferred by the Army to HA(L)-3 generally already had seen a good deal of combat. They retained, for the most part, the standard Army olive drab paint scheme although after commissioning of the squadron some helicopters were apparently repainted in a black or deep navy blue color, either completely or partial. There is no evidence to indicate this was a squadron wide policy, however.

Origionally, the words United States Navy were carried in black on both sides of the tailboom. After formation of HA(L)-3 early in 1967, this was gradually replaced with the word Navy in large white letters. Some photos, however, show the word Navy in black, and it is believed this was a very early style marking dating from the 1967 period which was not necessarily representative of all squadron aircraft.

Also, after commissioning, a three digit "modex" code beginning with the numeral 3 was assigned and carried on the vertical fin of all gunships. Although these machines retained their origional Army serial numbers, this code became the aircraft "tail number." Photographs exist of HA(L)-3 helicopters with a white three digit tail code beginning with other than 3, but it is felt these numbers were simply the last three digits of the Army serial number which had been highlighted in white for expediency pending assignment of a permanent squadron number.

Some HA(L)-3 detachments carried the squadron and det identification in small white letters on the tailboom aft of the horizintal stabilizer. However, this does not appear to have been a squadron wide practice and is believed to date from the 1967-1968 time frame. After 1968, nearly all gunships carried on their nose the HA(L)-3 insignia, a forebreathing dragon carrying a trident and shield all emblazoned on a circular field of white.

The UH1Ls and HH1Ks assigned to HA(L)-3 were painted in the then standard navy gray with associated markings and no apparent attempt was made to repaint them in the subdued scheme carried by the gunships. The only modex code known to have been carried by the Sealords were the letters SL followed by a one or two digit number. This became the helicopter call sign and probably tail number as well, the SL standing for Sealord. Some sources have suggested SL may have been the official Navy tail code assigned to HA(L)-3, but no evidence has ever surfaced to officially verify this. It is felt this was simply a local modex applied by the squadron to uniquely and quickly identify the Sealord helicopters as a sepatate entity from the gunship elements

List of Aircraft

The list of helicopters used by the Seawolves in Vietnam has been compiled from numerous sources including official documents, magazine articles and photographs. Although the squadron at maximum strength probably never operated more than 40 aircraft at any one time, the actual number of helicopters assigned to the squadron between 1966 and 1972 was considerably more.

Army Ser No
Navy Bu No
 Model  Tail # Notes
62-1936
UH-1B
---
Assigned 7/26/71
62-1970
UH-1B
327
Assigned 12/6/70. Damaged by ground fire, 2 wounded 4/14/71. Det 1 Nov 71
62-1985
UH-1B
---
Assigned 3/3/71
62-2025
UH-1B
309
Assigned 6/13/71
62-2031
UH-1B
---
Assigned 10/10/71
62-2034
UH-1B
321
Assigned 4/15/69. Det 6, damaged by engine failure at Song Ong Doc, 12/16/70. Assigned Det 5, 3/71. Det 7, damaged by ground fire 7/27/71. Det 2, cabin damaged by paraflare ignition 12/7/71
62-2038
UH-1B
316
Det 6, engine failure at Ca Mau 11/11/70. Det 3, damaged in hard landing at Nam Can 12/16/70. Det 1, damaged by ground fire 12/26/70. Windshield shattered by ground fire, pilots slightly wounded, 1/8/71
62-4567
UH-1B
---
Det 1 and Det 3
62-4579
UH-1B
306
Det 3, destroyed by fire from crash landing at Ca Mau after engine failure, one crewman killed, 10/3/70
62-4597
UH-1B
---
Assigned 8/22/71
62-4602
UH-1B
322
Assigned 10/10/70. Det 4, broke up in flight, all 4 crewmen killed including Det CO 9/20/71
62-4604
UH-1B
---
Assigned 11/25/70
62-12515
UH-1B
321
Assigned 1968, Det 7.
62-12542
UH-1B
---
Assigned 1/3/70. in service with Det 7 11/70
62-12543
UH-1B
---
Assigned 8/1/71
63-8540
UH-1B
312
Assigned 6/22/69. in service with Det 3, 11/70, damaged by ground fire 5/9/71
63-8545
UH-1B
305
Det 1, water damage from engine failure over Bo De River 10/24/70
63-8547
UH-1B
312
Assigned 10/5/70.
63-8589
UH-1B
326
Det 1, damaged by ground fire, 3 wounded 2/21/71. Shot down 8/11/71, helicopter recovered
63-8666
UH-1B
---
Assigned 2/14/69.
63-8679
UH-1B
---
Assigned 8/23/71.
63-8715
UH-1B
---
Assigned 10/31/70. Det 2, damaged in hard landing at Phu Loi 11/12/70. Det 6, lost to engine failure over Gulf of Thailand 2/17/71
63-8738
UH-1B
---
Assigned 5/30/69.
63-12923
UH-1B
---
Assigned 11/19/70. Det 9, damaged by 75mm recoilless rifle fire aboard YRBM-21 5/28/71
63-12929
UH-1B
312
Crashed inverted from unknown cause near Kien Long, all 4 crewmen killed 12/19/70
63-12930
UH-1B
---
Assigned 11/4/70
63-12943
UH-1B
---
In service with HC-1 Det 25, 1966
63-12946
UH-1B
---
HC-1 Det 25, extensive water damage from accident involving PACV 11/29/66.
64-4602
UH-1B
322
Disintegrated in flight, 4 crewmen killed, 9/20/71
64-13919
UH-1B
---
Assigned 11/4/70
64-12934
UH-1B
---
Det 7, destroyed on impact with dike near Dong Tam due to loss of rotor RPM, no casualties 11/16/70.
64-13939
UH-1B
---
Assigned 7/23/70.
64-13943
UH-1B
328
Assigned 12/13/70. In service with Det 4, 10/71
64-13948
UH-1B
322
Det 8, battle damage to cabin, 10/17/71
64-13974
UH-1B
---
HC-1 Det 29, lost over water to engine failure, no casualties 2/11/66.
64-13975
UH-1B
---
Assigned 6/24/69
64-13980
UH-1B
---
Assigned 9/20/70
64-13990
UH-1B
---
Assigned 5/18/70. Minigun malfunction, both pilots one gunner injured 1/25/71. Destroyed in training accident at Ca Mau, both pilots injured 4/7/71
64-14007
UH-1B
---
Assigned 2/14/71
64-14020
UH-1B
---
Assigned 4/21/70. Damaged by ground fire, one crewman wounded 4/29/71
64-14022
UH-1B
---
Assigned 1/3/70
64-14031
UH-1B
315
Ditched in Gulf of Thailand after loosing directional control on approach to USS Garrett Co. 4/13/70. Aircraft recovered
64-14033
UH-1B
---
Assigned 9/13/70
64-14070
UH-1B
---
Assigned 9/13/70
64-14076
UH-1B
---
Assigned 11/8/69
64-14081
UH-1B
---
Assigned 10/28/70
64-14083
UH-1B
330
Assigned 11/20/69. On board rocket detonated by ground fire, 1 crewman killed 4/19/71. Det 5, damaged by ground fire 8/15/71 and heavily damaged in forced landing from engine failure 8/28/71
64-14087
UH-1B
---
Assigned 6/30/71
64-14090
UH-1B
---
Assigned 7/24/69
64-14091
UH-1B
---
Assigned 8/4/71
64-14117
UH-1M
---
Assigned 11/3/71
64-14145
UH-1C
---
Assigned 11/17/70
65-9423
UH-1M
---
Assigned 6/30/71
65-9476
UH-1M
314
Assigned 11/15/70. Det 9, damaged by ground fire 9/17/71. Assigned Det 2, 11/71
65-9548
UH-1M
---
Assigned 11/19/71
66-540
UH-1C
---
Det 2, lost to engine failure over water, no casualties 3/8/71
66-599
UH-1M
---
Assigned 9/8/71
66-610
UH-1C
---
Assigned 7/11/71
66-616
UH-1M
316
Shot down with 4 wounded, destroyed to prevent capture 8/28/71
66-655
UH-1M
---
Assigned 9/9/71
66-15017
UH-1M
---
Assigned 12/18/71
66-15077
UH-1M
313
Assigned 7/6/71
66/15111
UH-1M
302
Assigned 9/7/71. Det 5, damaged by ground fire 9/20/71
66-15200
UH-1C
312
Det 5, shot down 20 miles N. of Chau Doc, no casualties, helicopter recovered 11/18/71
66-15236
UH-1M
---
Assigned 9/8/71
66-15977
UH-1C
---
Assigned 7/11/71
157187
HH-1K
SL11
Destroyed during external hoist operation, 2 crewmen injured 10/18/71
157200
HH-1K
SL1
Assigned 11/1/70. Damaged by ground fire, 1 crewman wounded 4/29/71
157202
HH-1K
---
Assigned 11/1/70
157203
HH-1K
---
Lost over Gulf of Thailand to unknown causes, no casualties 11/26/70
157851
UH-1L
---
Crashed on approach to Binh Thuy, all 3 crewmen killed 6/1/70
157852
UH-1L
---
Assigned 12/11/69
157853
UH-1L
SL3
Assigned 12/11/69. Destroyed in landing accident, both pilots injured 12/22/71
157854
UH-1L
---
Assigned 12/11/69. Damaged by ground fire, one crewman wounded 1/9/71
157855
UH-1L
---
Assigned 1/22/70. Damaged due to engine failure near Vi Thanh 10/12/70
157856
UH-1L
SL6
Assigned 1/22/70. Crashed on takeoff at Binh Thuy, no casualties 8/13/70
157857
UH-1L
SL7
Crashed at Long Phu due to tail rotor control failure, one crewman injured 4/26/70
157858
UH-1L
SL10
Assigned 1/22/70