The Bell UH-1 Iroquois (nicknamed "Huey") is a utility military helicopter developed in 1956 by Bell Helicopter as a United States Army medical evacuation and utility helicopter, and the Army’s first operational turbine helicopter. Since 1960, more than 16,000 have been built, making the Huey one of the most successful aircraft in aviation history. The UH-1F variant of the Huey was designed specifically for the USAF to provide logistical support at the ICBM missile sites. Add one of MotoArt’s Bell UH-1F Huey PlaneTags to your collection today.
Used by permission from Leo Boudreau - The displayed UH-1F was used at Ellsworth AFB for Minuteman Missile support.
Bell , a U.S. based aircraft manufacturer, was founded in July 1935 as Bell Aircraft Corporation. Although they are widely known for their innovative and revolutionary helicopter designs, their beginnings were in fighter aircraft construction. Among their designs are the WWII fighter P-39 Airacobra, the first U.S. produced jet P-59 Airacomet, and the world’s first supersonic airplane Bell X-1. The first helicopters produced by Bell were the XFM-1 Airacuda and the P-39 Airacobra. The Bell 47 (H-13 Sioux) was the first helicopter ever to be rated by a civil aviation authority, setting the stage for a new industry and the widening use of helicopters for both civil and military purposes. Today, the Fort Worth, TX company continues to produce exciting and innovative aircraft and systems, including unmanned vehicles and a focus on urban air mobility (UAM).
Bell won a USAF contract in June 1963 to design and produce a helicopter that would be used to perform missile site support duties. The result was the UH-1F, derived from the UH-1B. It featured a 48 foot diameter rotor and a turboshaft engine with 1,290 horsepower. The first UH-1F flew February 20th 1964, and was delivered to the USAF beginning in September 1964. Only 119 were ever built.
At the height of Cold War tensions, the USAF organized the Minuteman missile program. Missile fields, consisting of 50 to 150 launchers each, were strategically placed throughout six U.S. states: Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Missouri, and South Dakota - the site of Ellsworth AFB. The Minuteman force was broken up into administrative units called wings, which were further organized into three or four 50 missile squadrons, which were divided into five smaller units called flights. A flight was a manned launch control location, which was linked to ten unmanned, underground silos located a distance away. The first field, located at Malmstrom AFB near Great Falls, Montana, was activated on October 27, 1962, in the tense moments in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The second Minuteman deployment was headquartered at Ellsworth AFB, near Rapid City, South Dakota. The location had been used previously for training B-17 bomber crews, and had served as a base for strategic bombers and a Titan I missile squadron. The groundbreaking ceremony took place September 11, 1961 and construction proceeded with three shifts per day, seven days a week to complete it quickly. By summer 1963, crews were completing construction on a silo a day. By October 1963, the second wing of Minuteman ICBMs was completed and operational. 44th Missile Wing - (General Squadron Area)
Our helicopter, 66-1222, was stationed at Ellsworth throughout its military career. It was constructed in 1966 in Fort Worth, TX, and was originally assigned to 28th BH WG, Ellsworth AFB, SD.
After retiring from the Air Force, its journey continued in the civilian realm with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) is on the front line to provide air support and airborne firefighting for wildfire operations in the Southern California area. 66-1222, and three other retired military UH-1Fs, were added to the fleet, to be used as air tankers and air ambulances, or for parts. Although the UH-1Fs were eventually replaced, they played an invaluable role in the early days of LACoFD’s robust airborne firefighting operations.
When MotoArt owner Dave Hall saw the distinctive silhouette of this aircraft in a California boneyard he knew how many veterans would appreciate the opportunity to own a piece. “We were fortunate to be able to secure it because our first Huey we introduced in the PlaneTags series, a UH-1B, was so well received,” said Hall. The UH-1B PlaneTags were a special run of 1,000 and quickly sold out, leaving collectors and enthusiasts continually requesting more. “Our Huey was such an important aircraft to the United States Air Force that its legacy will always be remembered.”
Our Huey UH-1F PlaneTags are handcrafted from the original outer skin of 66-1222. They are numbered to just 2000. As with all of our PlaneTags, they are made from actual retired aircraft and bear the wear and tear, the dings and dents, and paint characteristics that make each one so unique. These variations and imperfections are not flaws, but part of the beauty of PlaneTags. Grab one for your collection or to give as a Veterans Day gift.
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