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Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw: Vietnam War’s Unsung Hero?

The H-34 became seared into my young brain in April 1965, with the Larry Burrows cover story "A Ride on Yankee Papa 13" in Life magazine. Twenty years later I hunted down a copy of that issue in an antique mall, and I still have and cherish it to this day, nearly 40 years later.
 
Having served as an Army Aviator since 1967, and just after flight school I was ordered to... where else but Vietnam. As a helicopter pilot I was flying UH-1D and UH-1C better known as slick Charlie models having been replaced with Cobra gunships. At the end of my tour I was ordered to 350th Aviation at Fleigerhorst Kasern in West Germany. It was there I was introduced to the Sikorsky CH-34C Choctaw.

It was a great Helicopter with the huge Radial Engine with the two throat updraft carburetor attached to the underside of the engine. This is one of the few helicopters in the Army inventor which has a rotor brake. Of course the rotor brake always leaked hydraulic fluid on left side of the CH-34C on the pilots flight suit when applied. More than a few times I flew the 8th Army competition jump team for practice. They seemed to to always want to fly up to 10,000 feet, and then they would do their jumps. The CH-34C with crew in tow would race the 8th Paratroopers down to the ground so they could do more jumps. One time we were at 10K feet and the 8th Paratroopers were preparing to jump when I spotted through the chin bubble a West German Air Force F-104 pass underneath at approx 5,000 Ft. I still have my -10 operators manual for the CH-34C.
 
Some way, somehow, I want to get ahold of a H-34 and restore it. It wouldn’t be able to fly but saving a piece of history would make the effort worthwhile. I was a Crew Chief on CH-53A/D’sin the Marine Corps. I also crewed HH-53B/C’s, HH-3E’s, UH-1N/FD and HH-60G’s from 1981 to 2007. Fixing a -34 would be a challenge but it would also be a fun challenge.
 
My mom worked at Sikorsky while these were in service... she would fly in repaired craft that were being certified to go back into service, her job was to take written notes of what the pilot had to say about each craft in real time. These reports were used to correct any issues before the craft was shipped back overseas. She tells me that is was one of her favorite jobs, especially because that's where she met my father.

Here is one of my favorite pictures of a Choctaw from that time.

ChopperGuard.jpg
 
A year or so I was privileged to visit a tract of land outside Fayetteville/Rogers/Bentonville Arkansas bought by the Walton Family to build a new state veterans’ home. They asked that it be named after John Walton. We had heard he was an SF hero but I (for one among many)had not heard his story. Thank you. Douglas House, COL, US ARMY Retired & proud owner of 3 SA Heirlooms
 
Some way, somehow, I want to get ahold of a H-34 and restore it. It wouldn’t be able to fly but saving a piece of history would make the effort worthwhile. I was a Crew Chief on CH-53A/D’sin the Marine Corps. I also crewed HH-53B/C’s, HH-3E’s, UH-1N/FD and HH-60G’s from 1981 to 2007. Fixing a -34 would be a challenge but it would also be a fun challenge.
This sounds like a fun and do-able project. I'd imagine that a suitable H-34 carcass would be available in a junkyard somewhere for a reasonable price. Since you're not going to fly it, you don't even need an installed engine or drivetrain. You just want to fix up the cockpit, cargo area, and exterior--it would make a HELLA FUN "playhouse" for the neighborhood kids. Hell, I might even look into this myself, although I imagine that there are zoning and other land use issues involved. Hmmmmmm....
 
Having served as an Army Aviator since 1967, and just after flight school I was ordered to... where else but Vietnam. As a helicopter pilot I was flying UH-1D and UH-1C better known as slick Charlie models having been replaced with Cobra gunships. At the end of my tour I was ordered to 350th Aviation at Fleigerhorst Kasern in West Germany. It was there I was introduced to the Sikorsky CH-34C Choctaw.

It was a great Helicopter with the huge Radial Engine with the two throat updraft carburetor attached to the underside of the engine. This is one of the few helicopters in the Army inventor which has a rotor brake. Of course the rotor brake always leaked hydraulic fluid on left side of the CH-34C on the pilots flight suit when applied. More than a few times I flew the 8th Army competition jump team for practice. They seemed to always want to fly up to 10,000 feet, and then they would do their jumps. The CH-34C with crew in tow would race the 8th Paratroopers down to the ground so they could do more jumps. One time we were at 10K feet and the 8th Paratroopers were preparing to jump when I spotted through the chin bubble a West German Air Force F-104 pass underneath at approx 5,000 Ft. I still have my -10 operators manual for the CH-34C.
Oops what was I thinking! I know there is no chin bubble on them, CH-34C, like a UH-1 Huey. I was looking out the right side window when the F-104 blew through the jump zone which is restricted air space.
 
This sounds like a fun and do-able project. I'd imagine that a suitable H-34 carcass would be available in a junkyard somewhere for a reasonable price. Since you're not going to fly it, you don't even need an installed engine or drivetrain. You just want to fix up the cockpit, cargo area, and exterior--it would make a HELLA FUN "playhouse" for the neighborhood kids. Hell, I might even look into this myself, although I imagine that there are zoning and other land use issues involved. Hmmmmmm....
I have good news for CH-34 people especially for those who served in the Marine Corps. A pair of Marine Corps pilots I had known both flew in Vietnam and at NAS Glennview as Huey pilots. I made a donation for the restoration of a Marine Corps CH-34 known as YL-37 "Flys again Vietnam 1965-1968"
 
As an 18 yr. old Marine I remember my first ride in a 34, early 1968, the sound reminded me of a Big Block 409 Chevy with the headers uncapped, God Bless all the Brave pilots and all their fearless unrecognized heroic's that they did for their fellow Marines.
 
The H34 was one of the first helicopters to be heavily armed experimentally. In 1957 the 4th Transportation
Co at Ft Benning experimented first with H13s and H23s then moved to the H34. My father, CWO4 Jack Brown, was one of the pilots. They mounted everything they could think of on the H34. After they jerry-rigged and played with every armament they could, they took it to the Sikorsky factory and there they engineered new gun mount and fire controls. That H34 was nicknamed "The Bad Mother". If I remember correctly the final version had a couple of flex mounted 30cals in the side door and window, 4 or maybe 6 forward firing 30cal MG, 4 fwd firing 50cal MG, 2 fwd firing 20mm, 40 2.75in rockets and two 5inch holy moses anti-sub rockets underneath. They did several live fire demonstrations but it was never deployed in combat. I have pictures that the Sikorsky factory made that I will try to dig up to post.
 
This sounds like a fun and do-able project. I'd imagine that a suitable H-34 carcass would be available in a junkyard somewhere for a reasonable price. Since you're not going to fly it, you don't even need an installed engine or drivetrain. You just want to fix up the cockpit, cargo area, and exterior--it would make a HELLA FUN "playhouse" for the neighborhood kids. Hell, I might even look into this myself, although I imagine that there are zoning and other land use issues involved.
I’m thinking of using it as a display for Veteran’s events, parades, local base open house. It’d look awesome next to my gun truck!
 

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The H34 was one of the first helicopters to be heavily armed experimentally. In 1957 the 4th Transportation
Co at Ft Benning experimented first with H13s and H23s then moved to the H34. My father, CWO4 Jack Brown, was one of the pilots. They mounted everything they could think of on the H34. After they jerry-rigged and played with every armament they could, they took it to the Sikorsky factory and there they engineered new gun mount and fire controls. That H34 was nicknamed "The Bad Mother". If I remember correctly the final version had a couple of flex mounted 30cals in the side door and window, 4 or maybe 6 forward firing 30cal MG, 4 fwd firing 50cal MG, 2 fwd firing 20mm, 40 2.75in rockets and two 5inch holy moses anti-sub rockets underneath. They did several live fire demonstrations but it was never deployed in combat. I have pictures that the Sikorsky factory made that I will try to dig up to post.
Please do--I'd LOVE to see them! ;)
 
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