Academic journal article Air Power History

History Mystery

Academic journal article Air Power History

History Mystery

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Our Fall 2008 "History Mystery" aircraft was the Sikorsky MH-53M Enhanced Pave Low IV special operations helicopter. The U.S. Air Force retired its last MH-53M on September 30, 2008. This series began as the Vietnam-era "Super Jolly Green," whose original job in the Air Force was combat rescue. The Air Force followed the Marine Corps with its version, the CH-53A Sea Stallion, which made its maiden flight on October 14, 1964.

In November 1966, the Air Force borrowed two CH-53As from the Marines. Soon after, the Air Force purchased eight combat-rescue HH-53Bs. They became known as "Super Jolly Greens," since they were larger than the HH-3E helicopter nicknamed the "Jolly Green Giant."

The Air Force HH-53B made its first flight on March 16, 1967, and reached Southeast Asia in October 1967. In his book, Search and Rescue in Southeast Asia (Center for Air Force History, 1992), historian Earl H. Tilford, Jr., wrote: "The HH-53B/C represented the best in rescue technology, yet there were limitations. Too large to be an ideal rescue helicopter, its size kept it from maneuvering in tight areas like karst valleys. [It was] an easy target for enemy gunners."

Tilford credits H-53s with 371 of the 2,039 combat rescues made in Vietnam. …

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