Walkaround #174

HSS-1 Seabat S-58B or C
(Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw)

Reference photos by Michel Poutnikov

 general view of the chopper, showing the Sea Blue fuselage with dayglo areas and also  shows the wide air inlets for the radial engine (top of the nose), the grids below on the side of the fuselage are for air circulation



These photos were taken by Michel Poutnikov at the Brussels (Belgium) museum.

Photo descriptions were provided by Marc Brouyere and Jan C. Teipel

Michel Poutnikov

Special thanks to the 33 ARC visitors that e-mailed bits and pieces of the following information.

This Belgian Search and Rescue helicopter is the HSS-1 Seabat (S-58 or UH-34) that were developed by Sikorsky. There initially was a variant for the U.S. Navy called the HSS-1 Seabat. With high demands, this machine was also built under license by Sud Est Aviation of France (49 machines apparently) as stock HSS-1's except for French Radios and metric fittings. In 1961, five of the Sud Est Aviation machines went to the Belgian Air Force and were serialed B4 to B8, the one pictured here is B6. Even after the U.S. went to various H-34 designations, SH-34G for the Seabat, the Belgians always referred to their machines as HSS-1 Seabats. The Belgian machines were retired and replaced by Sea Kings starting in 1976 (a profile in the retirement scheme is on the front cover of "H-34 Choctaw in Action" book), the last one on July 19th, 1986.  This particular paint scheme is for 40 Squadron Heli Koksijde on the Belgian North Sea coast, on mine-sweeping, SAR and transport duties. Upon withdrawal, some were preserved while others were sold to a German firm who continued to fly these for a few years.  Belgian Navy versions of this helicopter had an anchor painted on the Belgian roundel.  What's interesting about this H-34 is it was powered by a Wright radial engine that is mounted in the front of the airframe behind two clam shell doors which when closed, form the bulbous looking nose. The drive shaft  for the rotor actually runs from the nose up through the cockpit between the pilot and co-pilot.  The H-34 is the start of the Westland Wessex (turbine powered H-34) line.   

For modeling this helicopter there are a few kits.  The lovely 1/72 Italeri kit straight from the box.  Be sure to get the one with the curved front landing gear, you can not use the H-34D because it has the straight landing gear.  In 1/48 there is the old Revell kit which is quite good.  Daco Decals http://ultra.glo.be/daco products have a very nice sheet for Belgian H-34s in either 1/72 or 1/48.

Belcher Bits does Canadian decals for the UH-34 in 1/72 and 1/48.  As an aside, don't rely on the Canadian profile in the center spread in the Squadron Signal "In Action" book as they got the colours backwards. It should have a dark blue lower fuselage and red upper not blue upper and red lower like they have. Canada used them (H-34's) in Canada for Dew Line supply and SAR.  This helicopter was used by more than one military service in the United States and was also used by the Americans in Vietnam.  

For web sites there are the following: references during the Vietnam War http://www.scarface-usmc.org/Kingbee.htm  or a photo of a British Wessex http://www.iwm.org.uk/duxford/naval7.htm and finally this web site which is very good for info on 40 Squadron Heli Koksijde  http://www.sarbelgium.be.tf/


Click on images below to see larger images

close-up of the winch used on SAR missions for light loads (people), the H-34 has another heavy duty winch hook under its belly.

The winch and the cargo door, you can see two of the three gravity feed (AFAIK) refueling points inside the red circles on the lower side, the wedge shape above and behind the sliding side door has the side (in this case blue-green) navigation light at the pointed back-end, similar on the aircrafts other side. 
Here is another view of the nose; the air-cooled engine was located in the nose and shows the exhaust (the fat short tube with the red protective cover) and the retractable landing light in the "dent" in front of it. It is interesting to see, that the left landing gears upper strut does not have the two wedge shapes (steps?) that the right side has. Behind the orange nose on the bellys centerline is a recessed cooling grid (motor oil?) in the shape of a very stubby, short legged and fat capital T 
shows a tie down ring below the capital F just in front and above the tail gear 


Click on images below to see larger images

as it is good enough so one can read the stencils, the tail folds at this hinge line for storage. 

areas of the tail.


Photos and text by Michel Poutnikov