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The Sikorsky S-52 was a utility helicopter developed by Sikorsky Aircraft in the late 1940s. It was used by the U.S. Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.[2] The S-52 was the first US helicopter with all-metal rotor blades. A two-seater, it was developed into the four-seat S-52-2. It was designated HO5S-1 by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps; HO5S-1G by the Coast Guard; and YH-18A by the Army.

Sikorsky S-52-3
Role Helicopter
Manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft
First flight 12 February 1947
Introduction April 1951
Primary users United States Navy
United States Army
United States Marine Corps
United States Coast Guard
Number built 93[1]
Variants Sikorsky XH-39
Vertical Hummingbird


Design and developmentEdit

Sikorsky Aircraft began designing the S-52 in late 1945.[3] The prototype S-52, first flown in 1947, was a two-seater and used a 178 hp (133 kW) Franklin air-cooled flat-six piston engine.[2]

The two-seat version was modified into the S-52-2, a four-seat helicopter using a 245 hp (183 kW) Franklin O-425-1 air-cooled flat-six. It had a semi-monocoque fuselage of pod-and-boom arrangement with a large bubble-like front greenhouse,[1] a three-blade rotor, and quadricycle fixed landing gear. The production S-52-3 (HO5S-1) incorporated a downward sloping (anhedral) v-tail stabilizer.[4] It also had sliding doors on the right forward and left rear sides, and a vertically split front bubble, allowing the left half to swing open in a clamshell fashion. The engine was placed at the aft end of the cabin and was canted forward 30 degrees to couple with the clutch and transmission.[5] The pilot-in-command occupied the right front seat.

The first American helicopter to have all-metal rotor blades,[1][2] the prototype[2] set several speed and height records in 1948, including 129.6 mph (204.2 km/h) on a 3 km (2 mi) course, 122.75 mph (197.54 km/h) on a 1 km (1,100 yd) circuit, and an absolute height of 21,220 ft (6,468 m).[1] It was capable of hover out of ground effect at 5,900 ft (1,798 m) or 9,200 ft (2,804 m) in ground effect.[1] The S-52 was the first helicopter to be flown in a loop, as flown by Harold E. Thompson on May 19, 1949.[6]

The S-52 also served as the basis of the turbine-powered S-59, which as the XH-39, competed for and lost the contract that produced the Bell UH-1 Iroquois. This aircraft differed in having a four-bladed rotor (against the S-52's three) and retractable tricycle gear.[1]

Operational historyEdit

The Navy operated the aircraft as a utility type, and it was used by the Marines for observation and scouting in Korea,[7] where the HO3S proved more popular. Four S-52s were evaluated by the United States Army for utility use in 1950, as the YH-18A, but not purchased in quantity.[3]

Many of the former military HO5S-1 units were demilitarized, rebuilt, and licensed as civil aircraft by Orlando Helicopters, who acquired the parts inventory from Sikorsky.


U.S. Army YH-18A in testing
Two-seat prototype, first flown in 1948.[8]
Improved three/four-seat variant.[8]
Variant of the S-52-2 for the United States Navy and Coast Guard, designated H05S-1 and HO5S-1G.[9]
Four S-52-2s for evaluation by the United States Army,[3] two later converted into XH-39s.[10]
The Sikorsky S-52 (HO5S-1) at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy center
Model S-52-3, a United States Navy variant of the four-seat S-52-2, 79 built.[9]
As HO5S-1 for the United States Coast Guard, eight built.[9]
Model S-59 turboprop-powered prototype modified from two YH-18As.[11]
Vertical Hummingbird
Sold by Vertical Aviation Technologies of Sanford, Florida, the Hummingbird 260L is a kit-built design using the basic airframe, blades, main transmission, and tail rotor drive of the Sikorsky S-52 helicopter, but streamlined with a Bell 206 JetRanger nosecone and windshields. The Hummingbird is powered by a Lycoming VO-435—a vertically mounted, opposed six-cylinder 435-cubic-inch engine.[12]



Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1951–52.[15]

General characteristics

  • Crew: two
  • Capacity: two passengers or two stretchers
  • Length: 27 ft 5 in (8.36 m) (fuselage length)
  • Height: 8 ft 8 in (2.64 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,650 lb (748 kg)
  • Gross weight: 2,400 lb (1,089 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,700 lb (1,225 kg) (overload)
  • Fuel capacity: 62 US gal (230 l; 52 imp gal)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Franklin 6V6-245-B16F air-cooled six-cylinder horizontally-opposed piston engine, 245 hp (183 kW)
  • Main rotor diameter: 33 ft 0 in (10.06 m)
  • Main rotor area: 855 sq ft (79.4 m2)


  • Maximum speed: 110 mph (177 km/h; 96 kn) at sea level
  • Cruise speed: 96 mph (154 km/h; 83 kn)
  • Range: 415 mi (361 nmi; 668 km)
  • Service ceiling: 15,500 ft (4,700 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,300 ft/min (6.6 m/s)

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e f Polmar and Kennedy, p. 288.
  2. ^ a b c d Donald 1997, p. 840.
  3. ^ a b c d Harding 1990, p. 228.
  4. ^ FAA type certificate
  5. ^ Flight manual, page 5
  6. ^ Guinness World Records 2019. Portable Press, 2019. p. 164. ISBN 9781684127184.
  7. ^ Polmar and Kennedy, p. 289 caption.
  8. ^ a b "Sikorsky S-52 Series – A Successful Little Helicopter and its Background". Flight International. 7 August 1953. p. 178.
  9. ^ a b c Andrade 1979, p.195
  10. ^ Andrade 1979, p.119
  11. ^ Andrade 1979, p.122
  12. ^ Hummingbird Helicopter Archived 23 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Hagedorn 1986, p. 63.
  14. ^ Pearcy 1991, pp. 292–293.
  15. ^ Bridgman 1951, pp. 289c–290c.


  • FAA Type Data Certificate, Helicopter Specification No. 1H2, rev. 3; 7 July 1961.
  • GAA Rotorcraft Flight Manual for Model S-52-3 Helicopter, Publication No. SA4045-10 Register 2, Sikorsky Aircraft Division of United Aircraft, 1952.
  • Bridgman, Leonard. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1951–52. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company, Ltd, 1951.
  • Donald, David, ed. "Sikorsky S-52". Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. Etobicoke, Ontario: Prospero Books, 1997. ISBN 1-85605-375-X.
  • Hagedorn, Daniel P. "From Caudillos to COIN" Air Enthusiast, Thirty-one, July–November 1986. pp. 55–70.
  • Harding, Stephen. "Sikorsky H-28". U.S. Army Aircraft Since 1947. Shrewsbury, England: Airlife, 1990. ISBN 1-85310-102-8.
  • Pearcy, Arthur. U.S. Coast Guard Aircraft Since 1916. Shrewsbury, England: Airlife, 1991. ISBN 1-85310-118-4.
  • Polmar, Norman, and Floyd D. Kennedy, Jr. Military Helicopters of the World. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1981. ISBN 0870213830.

External linksEdit