The H-21/H-44 helicopters were the fourth design in a series of helicopters with two tandem fully-articulated, three-bladed, counter-rotating rotors built by Piasecki Helicopters (later Vertol and then Boeing/Vertol). Frank Piasecki designed these helicopters for Arctic rescue with a multi-mission platform utilizing wheels, skies or floats. Maiden flight of the "YH-21" was 11 April 1952; production of various marks and models continued until 1960 and is believed to have totaled 707 helicopters. With its Arctic winter capabilities, six H-21A and nine H-21B were put into service by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to maintain and service Distant Early Warning (DEW) radar installations stretching from the Aleutian Islands, across Alaska and the Canadian Arctic to Greenland and Iceland. The H-21s were also assigned Search and Rescue and station flight duties. Six H-44A helicopters were later acquired by the RCAF. They were based on the H-21B airframe, had metal rotor blades (unlike the wooden ones of the YH-21 and H21A models) and an advanced transmission, and could be distinguished from the H-21 by the converted struts of its landing gear. These also were used in support of the Mid-Canada radar line and by units such as 103 Rescue Unit, Greenwood, NS, 102 KU (Composite Unit)/424 Squadron and 111 KU/440 Squadron until 1971.
As the nose/cabin section of H-44 serial number 9592 was destroyed in the mid-1970s by a snow plow, while operating in Northern Canada, one from a US Army H-21C airframe is being converted to the H-44A for the restoration. Aircraft 9592 and sister aircraft 9591 both saw duty at Greenwood with 103 Rescue Unit. 9591 was destroyed in a crash at CFB Chatham, NB 25 May 1968. Most of the parts for a complete rebuild of 9592 were acquired from the Reynolds Heritage Foundation in Wetaskiwin, AB, where it remained in storage until donated to GMAM in 2012, when the forward half of the fuselage was delivered. The rear fuselage section and remaining parts were delivered in 2013, while the seats, external hoist and various cockpit pieces came from the remains of serial number 53-4365, an H-21B USAF airframe. November 2013 saw the reorganizing of the Museum workshop to accommodate 9592 and the commencement of its restoration. 9592’s Flying History: Serial Number 60-5446 was manufactured in Morten, Pennsylvania and shipped to the Vertol Canada facility in Arnprior, ON for assembly and conversion to H-44A specifications.
24 March 1960 - Taken on strength by the RCAF
11 May 1960 – Transferred to No. 4 O.T.U. RCAF Station Trenton, ON
8 May 1961 - Transferred to 103 Rescue Unit RCAF Station Greenwood, NS
20 October 1964 - Transferred to RCAF Station Chatham, NB Rescue Flight, Air Defence Command
22 November 1971 - Transferred to CFD Mountain View, ON for storage
12 January 1972 - Struck off RCAF strength and later purchased by Nahanni Helicopters of Delta, BC. Registered as CF-BSG with Transport Canada.
December 2018 - Restored to display condition for the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum. Restoration Story
Roles: Transport, Search and Rescue Number built for Canada: six H-21As, nine H-21Bs, six H-44As Manufacturer: Piaseki, USA, modified by Vertol, Canada
Crew: 3, Pilot, Co-pilot, Tech Crewman
Powerplant: Single Curtis-Wright R1820-103 Cyclone, supercharged 9-cylinder radial engine, H-21A rated at 1150 hp; H-21B/C and H-44A were uprated to 1425 hp
Maximum speed: 128 miles per hour (111kts/206 kilometres per hour)
Cruising speed: 98 miles per hour (85 kts/158 kms per hour)
Service ceiling: 9,450 feet (2,880 metres)
Range: 265 miles (426 kilometres)
Empty Weight: 8,655 lb (3,864 kilograms)
Max Weight: 15,200 lb (6,893 kilograms)
Rotor Diameter: 44 feet 0 inches (13.41 metres)
Length: 52 feet 7 inches (16.01 metres); 86 ft 5 inches including rotors
Height: 15 feet 4 inches (4.73 metres)
Interior arrangement showing the complicated gearing and long drive shafts
Celebrating our 25th Anniversary