SH-34G/J Seabat

SH-34G of MFG 5's Seenotsrettungsstaffel

(taken from: F-40 #6 "Sikorsky H-34")

The first prototype of Sikorsky's model S-58 flew on 8th march 1954 and went into large scale production the next year. It was derived from model S-56, a troop carrier capable of carrying 36 fully equipped soldiers.
Thanks to it's large cargodoor the H-34, as it was the military name for the S-58, it was a ideally suited for troop carrying, transport and medevac purposes. This allround capability attracted the German Armed Forces attention and it was soon clear the H-34 was to complement and later superseed the aging H-31s.
In fall 1956 both army and air force took delivery of their first "Choctaws". Two years later the S-58 won a fly-off competetion against Vertol V44 and Westlands "Widgeon" and "Whilrwind". As a result of this, the German Navy decided to purchase 22 helicopters of the navalized SH-34G and 5 all-weather capable SH-34J, which were to equip the Westerland based MFG 4 and Kiel based MFG 5.

SH-34G ready for a new mission

(taken from: F-40 #6 "Sikorsky H-34")

Main task of the Marineflieger's SH-34s was to conduct Search and Rescue duties within the Seenotrettungsstaffeln as well as subhunting and minesweeping in coastal waters. The first of these total 27 helicopters arrived at Kiel on 1st september 1963.

The all-weather capable SH-34J subhunter carried a AN/AQS-5 sonar and two torpedos, but still the large majority of the German Navy's Seabats was used in the SAR over both the Northsea and the Baltic Sea role. As can be seen in the picture, helicopters often teamed up with specialized Navy Ships to accomplish this important task.

MFG 5 SH-34G in flight

(taken from: "Über uns der Himmel, unter uns die See", Fischer-Buch)

In 1974 the only surviving SAR-Wing, MFG 5, began transitioning to the newly acquired heavier Westland Seaking Mk.41 helicopters and numbers of SH-34s began to decrease accordingly. With 23 helicopters operationalin the end of 1973, the last Seabat saw retirement only one-and-a-half years later. Part of the helicopters were bought by Sikorsky for modernization, others were sold to Israel.

One of only five acquired SH-34J Seabats

(taken from:"Flugzeuge und Hubschrauber der Bundeswehr", Motorbuch Verlag)

Technical data:

Length             : 17,07m
Rotordiameter      : 14,37m
Height             :  4,54m
Weight empty       : 4260kg
max. Takeoff Weight: 6035kg
max. Speed         : 210km/h
Range              : 435km
Serviceceiling     : 9000ft
Wright R-1820
Thrust             : 1140kW


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