CH-46 Sea Knight

CH-46 Sea Knight

Infobox Aircraft
name=CH-46 Sea Knight

caption=CH-46 Sea Knight
type=Cargo helicopter
manufacturer= Vertol Aircraft Corp. Boeing Vertol
first flight=August 1962
retired=2004-09-04 (USN) Planned 2014 (USMC)
status=Active service
primary user=United States Marine Corps
more users=Japan Saudi Arabia Sweden
number built=H-46: 524
unit cost=US$6 million in 1987 [ [ Military aircraft prices] ]
variants with their own articles = CH-113 Labrador

The Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight is a medium-lift tandem rotor cargo helicopter, used by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) to provide all-weather, day-or-night assault transport of combat troops, supplies and equipment. Assault Support is its primary function, and the movement of supplies and equipment is secondary. Additional tasks include combat support, search and rescue, support for forward refueling and rearming points, CASEVAC and Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP). The commercial version is the BV 107-II, commonly referred to as simply the "Vertol".


Piasecki was a pioneering developer of tandem-rotor helicopters, with the most famous previous helicopter being the H-21 "Flying Banana". Piasecki's former company Vertol began work on a new tandem rotor helicopter designated the "Vertol Model 107" or V-107 in 1957. The V-107 had two Lycoming T53 turboshaft engines, producing 860 shp (640 kW) each. [ Origins: Vertol V-107 & V-114] ,, July 1, 2004.] The first flight of the V-107 took place on April 22, 1958. The V-107 was then put through a flight demonstration tour in the US and overseas. In June 1958, the US Army awarded a contract to Vertol for ten production aircraft designated "YHC-1A".Spenser, Jay P. "Whirlybirds, A History of the U.S. Helicopter Pioneers". University of Washington Press, 1998. ISBN 0-295-97699-3.]

The order was later decreased to three, so the Army could divert funds to the V-114, also a turbine powered tandem, but larger than the V-107. The Army's three YHC-1As were powered by GE-T-58 engines. The YHC-1As first flew in August 1959, and were followed by an improved commercial/export model, the 107-II. [ CH-46 history page] , US Navy, 16 November 2000.] During 1960, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) evolved a requirement for a twin-turbine troop/cargo assault helicopter to replace the piston engine types then in use. Following a design competition, Boeing Vertol was selected to build its model 107M as the HRB-1, early in 1961. Boeing had acquired Vertol in 1960 and renamed the group Boeing Vertol.

The helicopter was first procured in 1961"Tandem Twosome", "Vertical Magazine", February-March 2007] to meet the medium-lift requirements of the Marine Corps. [cite web|title=CH-46 Sea Knight [H-49] "Phrog"||url=] Its first flight in August 1962 was followed by a change in designation to CH-46A. Fleet introduction of CH-46As with the Marines and the Navy's UH-46As in November 1964. The UH-46A variant was modified for use in the vertical replenishment role. The CH-46A was equipped with a pair of T58-GE8-8B turboshaft engines rated at 1,250 shp (930 kW) each and could carry 17 passengers or 4,000 pounds (1,815 kg) of cargo. The USMC received 160 CH-46As and the US Navy acquired 24 UH-46As.

Production of the improved CH-46D followed with deliveries beginning in 1966. Its improvements included modified rotor blades and more powerful T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines rated at convert|1400|shp|kW|sigfig=3|abbr=on each. The increased power allowed the D-model to carry 25 troop or convert|7000|lb|kg|sigfig=3|abbr=off of cargo. A total of 266 CH-46Ds were produced. Also, approximately 12 CH-46As were upgraded to CH-46Ds. The Navy received 10 UH-46Ds for ship resupply.

The Marines also received 174 CH-46Fs from 1968 to 1971. The F-model retained the D-model's T58-GE-10 engines but revised the avionics and included other modifications. The CH-46F was the final production model with the last helicopter being the 524th H-46 produced. The Sea Knight has undergone upgrades and modifications. Most USMC Sea Knights were upgraded to CH-46E standard. The CH-46E features fiberglass rotor blades, airframe reinforcement, and further uprated T58-GE-16 engines producing convert|1870|shp|kW|sigfig=3|abbr=on each. Some CH-46Es have been given doubled fuel capacity. The Dynamic Component Upgrade (DCU) incorporated starting in the mid-1990s provides for increased capabilities through strengthened drive systems and rotor controls.

The commercial variant, the BV 107-II, was first ordered by New York Airways in 1960. They took delivery of their first three aircraft, configured for 25 passengers, in July 1962.

In 1965, Boeing Vertol sold the manufacturing rights of the 107 to Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Under this arrangement, all Model 107 civilian and military aircraft built in Japan are known as KV 107.

On December 15, 2006, Columbia Helicopters, Inc acquired the type certificate for the Boeing Vertol 107-II, and is in the process of acquiring a Production Certificate from the FAA. Plans for actual production of the aircraft have not been announced.


The CH-46 has tandem contrarotating rotors that were powered by two GE T58 turboshaft engines. The engines are mounted on each side of the rear rotor pedestal with a driveshaft to the forward rotor. The engines are coupled so either could power both rotors in an emergency. The rotors feature three blades and could be folded for on-ship operations. [ Boeing Sea Knight] ,, July 1, 2004.]

The CH-46 has a cargo bay with a rear loading ramp that could be removed or left open in flight for extended cargo or for parachute drops. A belly sling hook could be attached for carrying external cargo. It has a crew of three. A pintle-mounted 0.50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine gun was mounted on each side of the helicopter for self-defense. Service in southeast Asia resulted in the addition of armor with the guns.

The CH-46 has fixed tricycle landing gear, with twin wheels on all three units. The gear configuration causes a nose-up stance to facilitate cargo loading and unloading. The main gear are fitted in rear sponsons that also contained fuel tanks with a total capacity of 350 US gallons (1,438 L).

Operational history


Known colloquially as the "Phrog", and used in all Marine combat and peacetime environments since its introduction. [cite web|title=Boeing Vertol 107 - CH-46 Sea Knight |work=Helicopter History Site | |url=] Still regularly flown by the Marine Corps, its longevity as a reliable airframe has led to such mantras as "phrogs phorever" and "never trust a helicopter under 30". [cite web|title=Ask A Marine|publisher=HMM-364 Purple Foxy Ladies |url=]

CH-46E Sea Knights were used by the USMC during its 2003 invasion of Iraq. CH-46Es transported personnel, brought supplies to forward arming and refueling points (FARP), carried ammunition and various tasks. Marine CH-46Es and CH-53Es carried US Army Rangers and Special Operations troops in a mission to rescue captured Army Private Jessica Lynch on 1 April 2003. [Stout, Jay A. "Hammer from Above, Marine Air Combat Over Iraq". Ballantine Books, 2005. ISBN 978-0-89141-871-9.]

While the United States Navy retired the airframe on September 24, 2004, replacing it with the MH-60S Knighthawk, [cite web|last = Crawley|first=James W.|title=Swan song for Navy's ugly-duckling copter | |url=] the Marine Corps plans to maintain its fleet until the MV-22 is fully fielded. [cite paper|title=Major Acquisition Programs - Aviation Combat Element Programs|publisher=Headquarters Marine Corps |date=2006|url=] In March 2006 Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263 (HMM-263) was deactivated and redesignated VMM-263 to serve as the first MV-22 squadron. [cite web |last=White |first=LCpl Samuel |title=VMM-263 ready to write next chapter in Osprey program|publisher=U.S. Marine Corps |url=] The replacement process is expected to continue through the other medium helicopter squadrons into 2014.


The Civilian version, the BV 107-II "Vertol"Eichel, Garth, "Columbia Helicopters", "Vertical Magazine", February-March 2007] was developed prior to the military CH-46, and was operated commercially by New York Airways, Pan American World Airways and currently solely by Columbia Helicopters. As of December 15, 2006 Columbia Helicopters has purchased the Type certificate of the Model 107 from Boeing. [cite web|title=Type Certificate Data Sheet No. 1H16|publisher=Federal Aviation Administration|date=2007-01-17|url=$FILE/1H16.pdf|format=.pdf|accessdate=2007-02-08] Currently the company is seeking FAA issuance of a Production Certificate to produce parts with eventual issuance of a PC to produce aircraft.


US versions

Total U.S. H-46 production amounted to 524, ending in 1971.;Model 107 : Company model number.;Model 107-II : The third YHC-1 prototype was converted into a commercial airline helicopter. All subsequent commercial aircraft were produced as BV 107-II.;Model 107M : Military transport prototype for the United States Marine Corps.;YHC-1A : Three Model 107s for test and evaluation by the United States Army. Adopted by the United States Marine Corps as the HRB-1. Later redesignated YCH-46C. Three built.;YHC-1B : Were not Model 107s but five Model 114s that later became the CH-47A Chinook;HRB-1 : Original designation before being renamed as CH-46A before delivery under the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system;CH-46A : Assault, utility medium transport and SAR helicopter for the USMC, fitted with two 935-kW (1,250-shp) General Electric T58-GE-8 turboshaft engines. (Previously HRB-1). 164 built.;UH-46A : Utility medium transport helicopter for the United States Navy. Similar to the CH-46A. 14 built.;HH-46A : A small number of HH-46As were converted into SAR helicopters for the United States Navy base rescue role.;RH-46A : A small number of CH-46As were converted into minesweeping helicopters for the US Navy.;UH-46B : Development of the CH-46A to specification HX/H2 for the United States Air Force; cancelled;YCH-46C :YHC-1A redesignated in 1962.;CH-46D : Assault and utility medium transport helicopter for the USMC, fitted with two 1044-kW (1,400-shp) General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines. 266 built.;HH-46D : A small number of UH-46Ds were converted into SAR helicopters.;UH-46D : Utility transport helicopter for the US Navy combat supply role. Similar to the CH-46D. 10 built and one conversion from CH-46D.;CH-46E : Approximately 350 -D and -F airframes were updated to CH-46E standards with improved avionics, hydraulics, drive train and upgraded T58-GE-16 engines.;HH-46E : A small number of CH-46Es were converted into SAR helicopters. [cite news|url=|title=Pedro retires last HH-46Ds|last=LCpl Payne|first=Doug|date=December 20, 2007|work=The Windsock|publisher=Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC|pages=A1 & A3|language=English|accessdate=2008-07-25] ;CH-46F : Improved version of CH-46D, electrical distribution, com/nav update BUNO 154845-157726. Last production model in the United States. 186 built;VH-46F : VIP transport helicopter.;CH-46X : Also known as the Boeing Model 360, this Advance Technology Demonstrator from the 1980s never entered production. The aircraft relied heavily on composites for its construction and had a beefier drive train to handle the twin Avco-Lycoming AL5512 engines (4200shp). [ [ Photo of Boeing Model 360 with CH-46X tail markings] ] [ [ Boeing Model 360] ]

Canadian versions

;CH-113 Labrador : Search and rescue version of the Model 107-II-9 for the Canadian Forces Air Command. 18 built.;CH-113A Voyageur : Assault and utility transport version of the Model 107-II-9 for the Canadian Forces. 12 built.

wedish Versions

;Hkp 4A : Boeing Vertol 107-II, used originally by Air Force for SAR. (10), ;Hkp 4B : Boeing Vertol 107-II-15, Navy (3);HKP 4C : Kawasaki KV-107-II-16, Navy (8);HKP 4D : Rebuilt Hkp 4A for SAR/ASW (Navy) (4)

Japanese versions

;KV-107II-1 (CT58-110-1):Utility transport version.;KV-107II-2 (CT58-110-1):Commercial airline version.;KV-107IIA-2 (CT58-140-1):Improved version of the KV-107/II-2.;KV-107II-3 (CT58-110-1):Minesweeping version for the JMSDF, 3 built.;KV-107II-3A (CT58-IHI-10-M1):Uprated version of the KV-107/II-3.;KV-107II-4 (CT58-IHI-110-1):Assault and utility transport version for the JGSDF.;KV-107II-4A (CT58-IHI-140-1):Uprated version of the KV-107/II-4.;KV-107II-5 (CT58-IHI-110-1):Long-range SAR version for the JASDF.;KV-107II-5A (CT58-IHI-104-1):Uprated version of the KV-107II-5A.;KV-107II-7 (CT58-110-1):VIP transport version.;KV-107II-16:HKP 4C for Swedish Navy. Powered by Rolls-Royce Gnome H.1200 turboshaft engines.;KV-107IIA-17 (CT58-140-1):Long-range transport version for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, 1 built.;KV-107IIA-SM-1 (CT58-IHI-140-1M1):Firefighting helicopter for Saudi Arabia.;KV-107IIA-SM-2 (CT58-IHI-140-1M1):Aeromedical and rescue helicopter for Saudi Arabia.;KV-107IIA-SM-3 (CT58-IHI-140-1M1):VIP transport helicopter for Saudi Arabia.;KV-107IIA-SM-4 (CT58-IHI-140-1M1):Air ambulance helicopter for Saudi Arabia.


Military Operators

*Japan Air Self Defence Force
*Japan Ground Self Defence Force
*Japan Maritime Self Defence Force;SAU
*Royal Saudi Air Force;SWE
*Swedish Air Force
*Swedish Navy;USA
*United States Navy
*United States Marine Corps

Civilian Operators

*Helifor Canada Corp (under lease from Columbia Helicopters);USA
*Columbia Helicopters

Former Operators

*Canadian Forces Air Command
*Canadian Coast Guard;JPN
*Kawasaki Helicopter System, LTD
*Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department;THA
*Royal Thai Army [ [ Royal Thai Army] ] ;USA
*New York Airways
*Pan Am

pecifications (CH-46)

Aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=copter
jet or prop?=prop
crew=4: 2 pilots, 1 crew chief, 1 aerial gunner/observer
capacity=25 troops
length main=45 ft 8 in fuselage
length alt=13.92 m
* Fuselage width: 7 ft 3 in (2.2 m)
height main=16 ft 8.5 in
height alt=5.1 m
span main=51 ft
span alt=16 m
area main=4,100 ft²
area alt=380 m²
empty weight main=15,537 lb
empty weight alt=7,047 kg
loaded weight main=17,396 lb
loaded weight alt=7,891 kg
loaded weight more=with armor, guns, and ammunition
max takeoff weight main=24,300 lb
max takeoff weight alt=11,000 kg
engine (prop)=General Electric T58-GE-16
type of prop=turboshafts
number of props=2
power main=1,870 shp
power alt=1,400 kW
max speed main=165 mph
max speed alt=145 kn; 265 km/h
combat radius main=184 mi
combat radius alt=160 nmi, 296 km
ferry range main=420 mi
ferry range alt=360 nmi, 676 km
ceiling main=14,000 ft
ceiling alt=4,300 m
climb rate main=2,045 ft/min
climb rate alt=10.4 m/s
loading main=4.2 lb/ft²
loading alt=21 kg/m²
power/mass main=0.215 hp/lb
power/mass alt=354 W/kg
guns=2× XM218 .50 BMG (12.7 x 99 mm) machine guns (optional), 1 Ramp mounted M240G 7.62 x 51 mm machine gun (optional)

ee also

*Piasecki H-25/HUP
*CH-113 Labrador
*CH-47 Chinook
similar aircraft=
*Kaman K-MAX
*Sikorsky S-61
*List of active United States military aircraft
*List of military aircraft of the United States
see also=
*Columbia Helicopters


*cite web|title=CH-46E Sea Knight Helicopter|work=HQMC Fact File|publisher=U.S. Marine Corps|url=

External links

* [ CH-46D/E Sea Knight] and [ CH-46 history pages on U.S. Navy site] ; [ CH-46 page on USMC site]
* [ CH-46 product page] and [ CH-46 history page on]
* [ Columbia Helicopters - Largest Civilian Operator of BV/KV Model 107]
* [ Boeing Vertol 107 & H-46 Sea Knight on]
* [ Kawasaki Vertol 107 on]
* [ Kawasaki Helicopter Services (S.A.) Ltd.]

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