Bell UH-1B Iroquois A2-384
The RAAF had operated Dragonfly and Sycamore helicopters in the 1950s, and had been involved with the introduction of the Bell Sioux to Army service. But it was not until 1962, as the Iroquois was introduced, that the full capability and flexibility of the modern helicopter was realised in the RAAF.
Designed in the 1950s by the American Bell Helicopter Company, the Iroquois helicopter was ordered by the RAAF in 1961. Nicknamed "Huey" in US service, the first seven UH-1B Iroquois arrived in Australia in 1962 and were allocated to No 9 Squadron, where they began exercising in troop support for the Army. Another batch of aircraft arrived in 1963 and, a year later, No 5 Squadron was formed at RAAF Base Fairbairn in Canberra before being deployed to Malaysia with four of these aircraft to provide support during the confrontation with Indonesia. A third consignment of Iroquois was delivered in late 1964, incorporating a more powerful Lycoming engine.
Iroquois were deployed to Vietnam in 1966 with No 9 Squadron to conduct Army support duties that included the insertion and extraction of SAS troops, medical evacuations (medevac or 'dust-offs'), airlift and the re-supply of ammunition. In 1968, No 9 Squadron was re-equipped with UH-1D/H aircraft with a larger engine, extended cabin and greater payload, allowing for an additional four passengers to be airlifted, relegating the UH-1B aircraft to the training and search and rescue (SAR) roles until replaced by the Squirrel in 1984.
The aircraft on display, A2-384, was the first UH-1B into RAAF service, and arrived from the USA in October 1962. Allocated to No 9 Squadron as a SAR aircraft, the aircraft was based at RAAF Base Fairbairn, Canberra. When No 9 Squadron was deployed to Vietnam in 1966, the aircraft at Fairbairn were incorporated into No 5 Squadron, with A2-384 transferred on 12 April 1966. After modifications carried out at Bankstown, NSW, in July 1968, the aircraft continued to serve with No 5 Squadron until February 1970. Relocated to RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia, the aircraft performed SAR duties with No 2 Flying Training School until May 1970, and then returned to No 5 Squadron. In July 1971, the aircraft again returned to Pearce, this time until January 1972, when A2-384 was allocated back to No 5 Squadron. In June 1985, after replacement of the UH-1B by the Squirrel helicopter in the training role, A2-384 was allotted to the RAAF Museum.back to top
History of Iroquois A2-1020 (Tech Hangar)