Sikorsky S-61 H-3
usa US Air Force

Del'd: 138 - 1962 to 1994


  • US Air Force S-61 H-3
  • US Air Force S-61 H-3Vietnam War Jolly Green Giant S-61R. Notice different fuselage for rear loading ramp

The Sikorsky S-61R, a developed version of the naval SH-3 Sea King, served in the US Air Force in two main roles: The cargo helicopter CH-3C/E and the combat search and rescue (CSAR) variant known as the HH-3E Jolly Green Giant. Eventually both missions would turn over to the much bigger Sikorsky S-65 but these useful machines continued to serve until the 1990s.

SH-3A -> CH-3A
CH-3B based on S-61R from here

BuNos 62-12571 / 12573 - 3 CH-3A - ex Navy SH-3A (149009,149011,149012)
BuNos 62-12574 / 12576 - 3 CH-3B
BuNos 62-12577 / 12582 - 6 CH-3C
BuNos 63-9676 / 9691 - 16 CH-3C
BuNos 64-14221 / 14237 - 17 CH-3C
BuNos 65-5690 / 5700 - 11 CH-3C
BuNos 65-12777 / 12800 - 24 CH-3C
BuNos 66-13278 / 13290 - 12 HH-3E
BuNos 66-13291/13296 - 6 CH-3E
BuNos 67-14702 / 14725 - 24 CH-3E
BuNo 68-8282 - 1 HH-3E
BuNos 69-5798 / 5812 - 15 CH-3E

The Air Force had a dedicated search and rescue (SAR) force during the Vietnam war consisting initially of HH-43 Huskie helicopters (call sign Pedro). These were replaced by specially equipped HH-3 Jolly Green Giant ( and later by the HH-53 ) which were escorted by propeller-driven A-1 Skyraiders (call sign Sandy) specifically chosen because of its ruggedness, long endurance, heavy payload and ability to stay with the slower helicopters.
Vietnam Combat Search and Rescue

CH-3E Helicopters were also fitted as MARS birds for Mid Air Retrieval System. From 1964 drone operations in Vietnam for Reconnaissance/ELINT gathering operations were conducted in cooperation with DC-130 Hercules aircraft.
MARS Mid Air Retrieval System

On December 1965 a USAF CH-3 made the first-ever helicopter inflight refueling connection. After the technique was refined, all later HH-3Es were produced with refueling probes for aerial-refueling.
first helicopter aerial refueling

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USAF Combat, Search and Rescue Evolution, 17-May-18 : #CSAR From the YR-4 rescue in Burma during WWII, through the HH-43 Huskie and HH-3E Jolly Green Giant in Vietnam, to nowadays Pave Hawks, the combat search and rescue will continue to evolve and grow


YearsUnitsbold : Current base of the Unit
1989/9441st RQSPatrick AFB
1988/9256th RQSIS Keflavik
1987/9271st SOSDavis-Monthan AFB
1986/92304 RQS Portland International Airport
1981/9031st RQSRP Clark / Diosdado Macapagal
1980/8255 RQSEglin AFB
1979/9038 RQS KR Osan Air Base
Homestead AFB
1976/92305 RQS Davis-Monthan AFB
Selfridge airfield
1976/8020th SOSHurlburt Field
1976/79432 TDGDavis-Monthan AFB
1975/91129th RQS Moffett Federal Airfield
1975/90102nd RQS Francis S. Gabreski
1974/91301st RQSHomestead AFB
1974/87302nd SOSLuke AFB
1973/7641st RQSMcClellan
Hamilton AFB
1971/92551 SOSKirtland AFB
Hill AFB
1970/881st HS Andrews AFB
1970/87210th RQS Elmendorf AFB
1968/9233 RQSJP Kadena AFB
JP Naha
1968/7521st SOS TH U-Tapao
1968/7531st RQSRP Clark / Diosdado Macapagal
1967/7640th ARRSTH Khorat
TH Nakhon Phanom
TH Udorn Air Base
1967/6937th ARRSVN Da Nang
TH Udorn Air Base
1966/7454 ARRSPease
CA Goose Bay
1966/6948th RQSEglin AFB
1965/6920th SOSVN Dong Tac / Tuy Hoa
TH Udorn Air Base
VN Tan Son Nhat
1965/6638 RQS VN Tan Son Nhat
1962/8867 ARRSUK RAF Woodbridge
ES Moron Air Base
UK Prestwick

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