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Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe

Flying crane

CH-54 Tarhe

The Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe heavy load cargo carrier was widely used during the war in Vietnam

Entered service 1962
Crew 3 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 26.94 m
Main rotor diameter 21.95 m
Height 7.75 m
Weight (empty) 8.98 t
Weight (maximum take off) 21 t
Engines and performance
Engines 2 x Pratt & Whitney T73-P-700 turboshaft engines
Engine power 2 x 4 800 hp
Maximum speed 240 km/h
Maximum speed with external payload 185 km/h
Service ceiling 5.6 km
Range 390 km
Combat radius ?
Payload capacity 9 - 12 t


   The CH-54 Tarhe, also called Skycrane or flying insect, was manufactured by Sikorsky. The nickname Skycrane derives from its heavy load cargo lifting mission. As for insect-itís a nickname given by pilots for its unusual shape, that was adopted specifically for heavy loads. During the Vietnam War this helicopter had to fulfill various missions, such as recovery, rescue, infantry transport, medical supply and even armor transport operations.

   The CH-54 helicopter is equipped with a crane in the center of the fuselage that is operated by a co-pilot or an engineer from the backside of the pilotsí cabin. So the crane operator had an absolute view of what was happening beneath. The Tarhe has shown the very best capabilities in combat, climbing with maximum speed of 100 km/h even being overloaded. According to the veteran pilotsí statistics it was very versatile and one of the safest aircraft for its timeframe in the US Army use. In comparison with AH-1 Cobra and UH-1 Iroquois the loss of CH-54 was minimum. Also it was unique by having a had tremendous lifting power. In Vietnam war Skycrane had to cope with loads such as damaged air and ground vehicles. It also took significant role in military engineering projects such as building bridges and fortifications.

   The CH-54 has an maximum external payload capacity of 12 t. Its unique shape allowed to handle with all kinds of loads. Twin engines are on the top of the fuselage and rear landing gear is situated wide, that permits for example a different kind of containers to be fixed in the rear part. It is also compatible with a universal military cargo pod.

   This helicopter has been decommissioned from the US military service in 1991. However due to its versatility it is still in active use. Currently it is in service in some countries by government and civil operators. The CH-54 helicopter is employed for civilian purposes such as construction and fire-fighting. One of the most important operators of this air vehicle is NASA.

   In 1992 Erickson Air-Crane purchased the manufacturing rights for the Sikorsky S-64, a civil version of the CH-54. This helicopter is still in production.


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CH-54 Tarhe

CH-54 Tarhe

CH-54 Tarhe

CH-54 Tarhe

CH-54 Tarhe

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