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New Vanguard 87: Bell UH-1 Huey “Slicks” 1962-75

by Chris Bishop, illustrated by Mike Badrocke

Osprey Publishing Ltd.

ISBN 1-84176-632-1; 48 pages

I can hear the questions as I type – what’s an aircraft book review doing on Missing-lynx.com? Well, this is not a winged target. In fact it doesn’t even have wings, but a rotor instead, and was the Air Cavalry vehicle in Vietnam so does belong here as much as any ground-bound transport.

In fact, thanks to its Vietnam service, the Huey is probably the best-known of all choppers. Its development started in 1954 when the US Army issued a specification for a medical evacuation helicopter. Bell put their previous experience to good use and won the contract with what became the UH-1, its shape already recognisable as that of the ‘Nam Huey although at this point having a smaller and less powerful engine. Deliveries of the medevac version began in 1959, and by 1961 the expansion of its role into a battlefield transport was already the subject of trials. Various armament packages were also being looked at, and the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) was created to try out the possibilities. In 1965 it was embodied into the brand new 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and almost immediately sent to Vietnam – though Hueys had been there since 1962 in their medevac role.

This book gives a good overview of the development process, followed by a detailed account to the Huey in Vietnam combat. After that comes a breakdown of all the transport and wide-bodied gunship variants, from the original XH40 prototypes to the twin-engined UH-1N that was the forerunner of all the post-Vietnam twin-engined Hueys, and a table of numbers built. The narrow-bodied gunships and other post-Vietnam Hueys are not considered here, so we can hope for a second New Vanguard about them.

A good selection of photographs, not all of them taken in Vietnam, is backed up by colour plates showing seven Hueys with their different markings as well as the trademark New Vanguard cutaway. These cover Australian and Vietnamese examples and even one from the CIA’s Air America, as well as the US Army, USMC and Air Force. Recommended to all Air Cavalry fans.

John Prigent