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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Recovery helicopter tail numbers?

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Author Topic:   Recovery helicopter tail numbers?
cfreeze79
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Posts: 300
From: Martinez, CA, USA
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 01-14-2010 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cfreeze79   Click Here to Email cfreeze79     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aside from the most noted (and ill-fated) Helicopter 66, does anyone have a list, and/or know the fates, of the recovery helos used in Mercury, Gemini and Apollo?

ea757grrl
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Posts: 555
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 01-14-2010 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've been collecting, off and on, some of this information, and here's what I've been able to find. This is for the helicopters that actually retrieved the astronaut(s) at the end of a given mission, and I've verified it through pictures and through other sources, including footage in the Spacecraft Films sets.

This information includes model designation, Bureau Number (the Navy serial number), squadron, and tail code/modex (the aircraft's "side number"). If a mission is not listed, it's because the astronauts departed the spacecraft aboard the recovery ship.

  • MERCURY 3 -- HUS-1 BuNo 148767, HMR(L)-262, ET-44
  • MERCURY 4 -- HUS-1 BuNo 148754, HMR(L)-262, ET-30
  • MERCURY 7 -- HSS-2 (SH-3A) BuNo 148964, HS-3, AU-61
  • GEMINI 3 -- SH-3A BuNo 148984, HS-3, AU-57
  • GEMINI 4 -- SH-3A (BuNo unknown), HS-11, AS-64
  • GEMINI 5 -- SH-3A BuNo 149005, HS-5, AT-58
  • GEMINI 7 -- SH-3A BuNo 149006, HS-11, AT-56
  • GEMINI 10 -- SH-3A BuNo 152134, HS-3, AU-63
  • GEMINI 11 -- SH-3A BuNo 152134, HS-3, AU-63
  • GEMINI 12 -- SH-3A BuNo 151556, HS-11, AS-66
  • APOLLO 7 -- SH-3A BuNo 149918, HS-5, AT-55
  • APOLLO 8 -- SH-3D BuNo 152711, HS-4, NU-66
  • APOLLO 9 -- SH-3D BuNo 152695, HS-3, AU-54
  • APOLLO 10 -- SH-3D BuNo 152711, HS-4, NT-66
  • APOLLO 11 -- SH-3D BuNo 152711, HS-4, NT-66
  • APOLLO 12 -- SH-3D BuNo 152711, HS-4, NT-66
  • APOLLO 13 -- SH-3D BuNo 152711, HS-4, NT-66
  • APOLLO 14 -- SH-3D BuNo 152121, HS-6, NS-500
  • APOLLO 15 -- SH-3G BuNo 148996, HC-1, UP-001
  • APOLLO 16 -- SH-3G BuNo 149930, HC-1, UP-001
  • APOLLO 17 -- SH-3G BuNo 149930, HC-1, UP-001
Several of these helicopters went on to long careers (and modifications) and were put into storage. As of a few years ago, 149930 was in storage out at (IIRC) Davis-Monthan. I don't know if it's still in existence, though. It's too bad a museum didn't get her, as recovering the crews of the last two lunar missions is a pretty significant thing.

The only other one I can remember off the top of my head is the famous "Hunt Club 1" helicopter, a Sikorsky HUS-1/H-34 that bore BuNo 148755. It was reported to be at the Allied scrapyard near AMARC with the registration N4216H as recently as 2008. I don't know if it's yet been scrapped, or what's left if it hasn't.

Lou Chinal
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Posts: 946
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 01-14-2010 08:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good list Jodie.

I posted a list of all the recovery helo pilots a while back. I was on the Intrepid today, but had not seen this post til later. The "Big I" had been involved in MA-7 and Gemini 3. I don't know if they have any plans for the helicopters. The chopper that picked up Carpenter had a side# of 61, a smaller # of 8964. Hope this helps.

ea757grrl
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Posts: 555
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 01-15-2010 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Lou. It's an ongoing project of mine, and some of that data was more challenging to collect than I imagined it would be. I hope to someday add the Mercury and Gemini information to that, as well.

In a pile of documents at home, I have some of the post-recovery reports from Apollo 11 and Apollo 12, and they're very interesting for numerous reasons -- including their listings of pretty much all the aircraft embarked for the recovery by BuNo and hours flown. There's an awful lot of data out there, but the frustrating part can be tracking it down.

jodie

ea757grrl
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Posts: 555
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 01-15-2010 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Joe Baugher's serial number website, here's what I've found about the Apollo helicopters:
  • BuNo 149918 converted to SH-3H, written off Sept. 16, 1999
  • BuNo 152711 written off June 1975
  • BuNo 152121 converted to UH-3H, written off Oct. 14, 1983
  • BuNo 148996 to AMARC Mar. 24, 1994
  • BuNo 149930 to AMARC Aug. 30, 1993

I haven't yet been able to find the fate of BuNo 152695 (of Apollo 9).

PeterO
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Posts: 191
From: Rochester, NH
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 01-15-2010 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeterO   Click Here to Email PeterO     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Although not strictly a recovery helo, the Piasecki HUP-2 Retriever from USS Randolph that ferried John Glenn from USS Noa to Randolph was:

BuNo 147588
Squadron HU-2
Tail Code HU
Modex 46

ea757grrl
Member

Posts: 555
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 01-16-2010 07:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
List above is updated to include additional information I've found. I'm still looking for the Bureau Number of the Gemini 4 recovery helicopter, and at some point I'll update what I can find about the final fates of each helicopter.

Hope this will be of some interest.

jodie

cfreeze79
Member

Posts: 300
From: Martinez, CA, USA
Registered: Nov 2000

posted 01-16-2010 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cfreeze79   Click Here to Email cfreeze79     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been building a couple webpages on the recovery helicopters used (inspired by collectSPACE's listings of the Apollo 11 samples and flown flags, Goodwill moon rocks, and the Ambassador of Space awards).

Thanks for the help, y'all have filled in a couple of holes, and look forward to more...

All times are CT (US)

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