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For us, as for many others, this year has been a year of inner peace. We used our house on wheels for short trips in spring, summer and autumn. One of the highlights was a trip to Ostrobothnia, which we made at the beginning of the summer.
The main reason was to get to know the family and we also appreciated what the environment had to offer.
Caravan trip to Ostrobothnia
Ostrobothnia in Finland is very popular with tourists. Along the way we explored nature and visited national parks and places like this one.
In addition, Ostrobothnia has many old red buildings and beautiful postcard coastal towns. So, on the way home, we watched them. And walked along the beaches and sand dunes along the coast.
So this is what Ostrobothnia, the Finnish West, has to offer tourists. To locate you and the map, I’ll show you our route first:
Ostrobothnia Road Route
On the way up we took the inner road, where there are beautiful national parks, and went for a walk on the duck loop:
Hiking in Kauhaneva Pohyankangas National Park, Finland
Then we drove north to the town of Kokkola and back along the main coastal road 8.
Here you can see it on a Google map:
Our itinerary Ostrobothnia on the map
So for the most part they were good straight main roads, but not always. In the whistles, the streets were like this:
Can we go this way or not?
One of us took the lead in controlling this lumberjack road. Shouldn’t we just give up and go back?
But we’ve come all this way, and we’ve come all this way:
Kauhaneva-Podjankangas National Park
Kauhaneva, one of Finland’s 40 national parks.
Because we have been mainly abroad for many years, we have never heard of this national park. Until I found him at Instagram. You had to see this place!
So we left and left our house on wheels in the middle of the forest, a few steps from the entrance of the Nordpark. Because it was not too late, there was still time for an evening walk to Lake Kauhalampi, the largest lake in the national park.
Hiking around Kauhalampi, Kauhaneva-Podjankangas National Park
Besides the Kauhalampi there are hundreds of small lakes in the park, which look like small swampy ponds.
The length of the route is 4.5 km plus 1 km to get to and from the starting point. They are usually duckbills and they walk very well.
Then we threw ourselves into a dark lake, they built the perfect swimming spot for it.
Pictures of the hike and the campsite where we spent the night:
Kauhaneva Podjankangas National Park in pictures
More information about this South Ostrobothnia National Park can be found on the website of the Finnish National Park Luontoon.fi On the same website you will also find a map of Kauhaneva Podjankangas Park and information about another adjacent national park – Lauhanvuori.
Camping Nummikangas, Kauhaneva Podjankangas National Park.
contains two other articles on Finnish national parks, the summer article on Konnevesi National Park in Southern Central Finland and the winter article on Urho Kekkonen National Park in Lapland.
Katikankanjoni, Ostrobothnia: Sand ridges and old forest
The next morning it was cloudy and even rainy. So we went to a separate part of the same national park, half an hour’s drive.
Katicankanjoni (Katika Canyon) is an old fairytale forest with high, narrow ridges, which originated in the ice age. There are deep gorges between the ridges, and a wild stream runs underneath.
To see the forest, it is necessary to walk on the ridges and gorges for 2 km. In places like this:
Photo tour in the forest of Katicankanjoni
The highest point is called Klementulenlakki, the cap of the three winds. Three Winds Cap lies on a high triangular sand ridge with steep walls (left hand side picture).
The Dreiwindmütze, like the entire gorge, has a long tradition as a magical place for its inhabitants.
Even in light rain, a fairytale walk of 2 kilometers through the forest was very nice, except for the hundreds of mosquitoes that were bothering us from start to finish. But because there were no mosquitoes the night before, we weren’t prepared for that.
The magical flow of Ostrobothnia: Katikankanjoni
The gorge has a fairly large parking lot at the edge of the forest where the path starts, but it’s not exactly where I prefer to spend the night. So we continued walking and soon we arrived in a long green valley:
Green fields Hyypänjokilaakso, South Ostrobothnia
The Kauhajoki district hides a wide valley with rolling fields, red country houses and quiet villages. The map shows that there are more gorges in the valley, but less than the one we were in.
We loved the valley we happened to find. There was a sign that the Hyypänjoki Valley is a legacy of the traditional landscape.
Then the valley ended with several other historic buildings:
Ostrobothnia on the motorhome: two granaries in Ostrobothnia
It is an old farmhouse in Hämez-Havunen, which is no longer in use today, but where the local food markets are located. All farm buildings are painted red, which is very typical for Ostrobothnia, Finland and Sweden.
Redwood buildings Hyames-Havunen, Kauhajoki
The special color they use is called Falun red, after a pigment that comes from Falun copper mines in Dalarna, Sweden.
Traditionally, colours are baked outdoors by mixing rye flour, linseed oil, water and pigments. Today, however, most artists buy their paintings.
Red Falu allows the house to breathe and stay healthy, and the most important thing is that repainting houses is super easy. All you have to do is remove the paint that came off, and then you paint.
Apple blossoms and Falu houses in Ostrobothnia, Finland.
Now begins the real plain of Ostrobothnia, of which Seinäjoki is the capital. North of Seinyayoki, between the main roads, there is an open air swamp area, the Spiderworm:
Ornithological Tour Paukaneva Tower north of Seinäjoki
Park your car on the main road, then walk a few meters and you’ll end up in another world! Bird songs instead of street noise, walking on the beach instead of a paved road, wild swamp nearby.
On the banks of the Spider Marsh is a forest of tall pines and firs. After the dive the trees are smaller until there are no trees left at all in the central area. This is what the swamps of Black Botnia look like.
Travel to Ostrobothnia: Walks on the beach and spider marsh plants
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On a 5 km walk along the promenade or the platypus you will see all kinds of swamps. Either you walk a 7 km long loop around the swamp, or you just make a short tour, like a bird watching tower. In this case it is available until the end.
From the bird watching tower you can observe hundreds of birds during migration (spring and autumn).
In summer there are fewer birds, but more marsh plants such as dwarf birch, mulberry and strawberry. Tufted cotton and Labrador swamp tea are also grown here.
Travel to Ostrobothnia: Migrations in the spider worm
Pukaneva is a protected area and is part of the EU programme for the establishment of a network of nature conservation organisations Natura 2000.
To plan your trip, make a spider card: Spiders on the reply card.
It was a part about nature, now about the Ostrobothnic cities:
Finland in a caravan: Neristan, Kokkola.
The coastal town of Kokkola (Carlebi in Swedish) is an old town proud of its 400th birthday. Kokkola was founded in 1620 by the King of Sweden and has a long and important history as a city of sailors, shipbuilders and resin traders.
Neristan (in the centre of town) is a place where sailors have lived. 12 blocks of well-preserved wooden houses, where wild poppy seeds rest in cellars in summer:
In Neristan, Kokkola is one of the largest old towns in Finland.
The traders again lived in Oppistan (on the outskirts of the city). It is a modern part where there are not many old buildings. Instead, there are still many old merchant villas outside the centre.
Kokkola has a large community with beautiful wooden villas. It’s a place where shopkeepers and the rich spend the summer.
Car trip to Ostrobothnia with a caravan: Tankar Lighthouse, Kokkola.
There is also a network of beacons along the Ostrobottian coast to help sailors find their way back. That’s why Kokkola, as a maritime city, has a lighthouse on the remote island of Tankar.
In summer you can cruise to the deserted Tanker Island, see the red-and-white lighthouse and walk around the island where seal hunters and fishermen lived and worked.
Learn more about Tancar: The oil tanker Coccola
Learn more about Kokkol: Visit to Kokkola
Spicy road trips in a house on wheels: Where to stay
Highlights of caravan travel: Evenings in remote ports
So, where did we spend the night? We preferred remote fishing ports and sandy beaches.
Because I love places like this. When I spend the night by the sea, I can sit in my house on wheels and watch the waves. In the morning I wake up with the fishermen and the seagulls. But above all, nothing beats the sunrises and sunsets that can be seen in these places.
However, the only problem is how to park the car to get the best view, taking into account what you want to see from the kitchen, the sofa, the dining room and the bedroom.
Because the Finnish summer evenings are white, all you have to do is look at the view, maybe all night long. Don’t do that, get some sleep!
For example, it was our night vision from Oya, west of Kokkola:
Night view of Öja in the archipelago of the 7 bridges
Öja is a rural community on the nearby islands of Kokkola and Jakobstad, which is called the Archipelago of the 7 Bridges.
The small coastal village has a harbour for visitors and a sandy beach, both with several old buildings that have been brought here from other places as part of a joint project. There is also a forest trail in Öja.
Ostrobothian Summer Night
They even have a summer cafe that’s open until late. Café Bryggan serves coffee and other things in the traditional lumberhouse:
Cafe Brigan in the traditional logging house.
The nearest town in the south is Jacobstad (in Finnish Pietarsaari).
Jacobstad is also a city with a maritime tradition and has a well-preserved old quarter with wooden houses. In addition, there are several well-maintained parks in the city centre.
From Jacobstad we went to the sandy coast of the city. First we walk, then we spend the night.
The soft sands of Feboda, Jacobstad…
This is what Fyaboda looks like. It is a recreational area 10 km from Jacobstad, which is dominated by three large beaches, one of which resembles a lagoon. All the beaches, Storzend, Lilsand and the beach bars are clean and flat and are ideal for families outdoors.
Between the two there are rocks with paths and carefully organized walks. As you walk through it, you have a breathtaking view of the sea and breathe the fresh, pure sea air, while you can walk even more in the forest.
Feboda, the charm of every journey through Ostrobothnia.
All this makes Fäboda a local favourite, and many people can sit on the pipes. But come here in the middle of the week, out of season, and you’ll find a place where you can dream of spending the night.
How would you feel if you woke up on a sunny morning in a place like this? With those cans?
Phyaboda on the pictures
Fyaboda also has its own culture. There’s a museum: Nanok – Arctic Museum. Nanok is a polar bear from Greenland, and the museum looks like a house on the grass, straight from North Greenland!
It’s a summer morning in February: Travel is life!
More about Fyabod and Jacobstad Visit Jacobstad Pietarsaari
Dinner at sunset on the dunes of Storzand, Ostrobothnia.
There’s another beach in the south with the same name, Storsend. This short sand (large sand) located between Nykarlebi and Vaasa is even bigger and wider.
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Nykarleby Storsand consists of long, wide sand dunes supported by a pine forest and marked paths. Here the parking is the ideal place to spend the night in the house on wheels.
Warrior tier  for all of your needs program. The only disadvantage is the long road to Main Road 8 on narrow and winding roads. Despite the fact that Storing really should resign…
To find out more about these enormous dunes and other Finnish campers, please visit Facebook.
And now the red Ostrobothnic houses and traditional buildings: Clemetzgaardarna, Stromse and Perth:
Klemetsgardarna, Ostrobothnia, Finland
Between Jacobstad and Vaasa you will see the red houses of Falu, perhaps less on the main road, but more on all other roads.
Wherever we travel, we are always looking for things that are typical of the region. That’s why we always try to follow the back roads.
Typical two-storey houses in Ostrobothnia
But Clemetzgardaran is right behind the main road, so you can’t miss it.
Klemetsgardaran is a group of houses from the 18th century. They were built by a local public association as a mansion museum.
You can walk among the old houses. I wonder why these houses in Ostrobothnia are so high compared to what is being built in other parts of Finland.
Journey to the small museums of Ostrobothnia
This small real estate museum is located in Maxmo between Jacobstad and Vaasa. Then, north of Vaasa, Stromsa follows:
The style of the Ostrobothnic villa: Stromse, Vaasa
Decorated villa in Stroms, again not on the main road. To visit this villa and its gardens, you have to make a detour to a small coastal village called Wästerwick.
This tastefully furnished villa, famous for TV shows on home economics, cooking and gardening, is situated on a hill overlooking the surrounding garden and the sea.
Greetings from Stromce and Westerwick!
The Villa Stromse is about 160 years old. At the time of construction, the villa was one of the first to be built outside Vaasa.
For almost 100 years Stromse was the summer residence of a family of merchants. Generations of families have spent most of their summers here. They always came until the middle of summer and left until the end of August.
Straw door with wire
Think of all the wires they made and look at the wires on the doors! This fantastic villa is like an Ostrobothnic dream, neat, well painted and well maintained.
Read more about Vaasa and electricity: Visit to Vaasa
A study of Ostrobothnia in a house on wheels: Perthomas Local History Museum
Then there will be more old buildings, this time directly at Main Road 8. It is located in Dalbeken, 3 km north of the small village of Pörtom.
It is a museum of local history with typical buildings brought to the same place. All buildings have been moved from nearby places such as Ahlholma Manor and Småttgården Farm. There is also an art studio and a school museum.
Some details about the Perthom Museum of Local Customs:
Ancient wooden buildings of the Perthomsk Museum of Local History
Read more about Perthomas and the city south of it, Narpes: Visit Närpes : Perthomas Local History Museum.
Some of the 150 stables in the church of Närpes.
Närpes is a town known for its tomato production and church stables. The attraction is the old church, which dates from the 15th century. It has been expanded several times in the last century.
The special thing about the church is that it is surrounded by numerous stables. The red wooden stables are everywhere, in long clean rows. The church in Närpes has 150 stables, which all look the same:
150 stables in the church of Närpes
What are these stables for? Shelters for the horses. They were created for this purpose in the 18th century. Built for centuries.
I wish one of these stables could house us on wheels instead of horses! One, and they’d still have 149. Anyway, these stables aren’t even big enough for a house on wheels.
Coffee break in Närpes: Stables of the church
Read more about the church stables and places of interest in Närpes: Visit Närpes.
Our journey must now continue in a rural setting and we will visit two idyllic coastal towns: Casco and Kirstineshtad.
Kaskinen in Finnish, Kasko in Swedish, bilingual like all the coastal towns of Ostrobothnia. Casco is an island town located on the island of Pukkisaari. The smallest town in Finland and very similar to a postcard. So, some postcards from the airframe:
Kaskinen, Finland’s smallest city.
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Kaskinen was founded in 1785 and still looks the same. Long, wide and quiet streets with wooden villas and large gardens.
On a sunny summer day there are no traffic jams, only the occasional cyclist and a lazy cat sleeping on the main road.
The seashore of Cascinna and the nearest island, Jarvon.
Because Cascinne is an island town, the sea is everywhere.
More information about Caskinen, Cascot : Visit Cascinenne.
Ulrika Eleanor Christian City Church
Then our last destination on our way to Kristinestad (Kristiinankaupunki in Finnish), where 6,800 people live. Christinestad is even older than the Cascinena, founded in 1649, it is named after Queen Christina of Sweden.
Because Christinstad escaped the fires that destroyed many wooden cities, the historical area is exceptional. Everything is so well preserved that there are still almost 300 old buildings, all under protection.
Caskinen has wide streets, but Christi-town doesn’t. There are only narrow alleys, some of which are so narrow that if you go through the centre, you can almost reach the walls of the house on both sides. The most famous avenue is Katpiskarranden (three pictures below):
The idyllic town of Christin City, Ostrobothnia, Finland.
Christinstad was the first Finnish city to join the international Cittaslow network of cities founded in Italy.
Cittaslow wants to improve and slow down the quality of life in the cities. Slowing down food, reducing traffic and slowing down traffic. Just like the blades of that windmill in Christinstad:
More information about Kristinestad can be found on the website of Kristinestad.
Christinstad has just completed his journey through Ostrobothnia. I hope you enjoyed your participation in our motorhome in West Finland and that I have given you inspiration and ideas for your future travels!
More information about travelling to Finland
If you travel to Finland in the summer and want to see something interesting, we recommend that you visit our page about ionization:
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S-61 HSS-2, SH-3A/B/D/G/H, S-61L/N, CH/HH-3C/E/F
Four Stacked Aircraft – October, 1960
The Sikorsky S-61 designation was assigned to the company's first twin engine helicopter that was designed from the ground up to take full advantage of emerging turbo-shaft engine technology. This new model marked the end of reciprocating engine installations at Sikorsky and ushered in the era of the lighter and more compact turbine engines. The S-61 served all branches of the US Military as well as commercial airline service. It began its long production career as a model specifically tailored to anti-submarine warfare for the US Navy bearing the designation HSS-2. The model history described below focuses on this most important version of the S-61 helicopter series.
The threat of Soviet nuclear-armed submarines arose soon after the first Russian nuclear detonation in 1947 which immediately elevated anti-submarine warfare (ASW) to a mission of immense national importance. In 1950, at the height of the Cold War, the CIA noted an unconfirmed report that the only atomic bomb the Soviets had produced would have to be delivered by submarine. In 1955 the new Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Arleigh Burke, asked the Committee on Undersea Warfare of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct an Anti-Submarine Warfare ASW study. That study, Project Nobska, concluded that “Confronted with quiet submarines of long endurance, a sufficiently accurate means of navigation, and suitable weapons, defense against shore bombardment by submarines becomes a huge problem.”
World War II experience in the North Atlantic demonstrated the futility of engaging submarines with surface vessels. The population of Nazi U-Boats peaked at 240 in 1943. Against this force, 875 sonar-equipped escorts could not conclusively prevail. There was a need to combine the sonar’s detection, localization, and targeting, with the speed of an aircraft.
SH-3H of HS-8 dipping SONAR
One of the solutions was the ASW helicopter with active dipping sonar, a concept first demonstrated on a Sikorsky HOS (R-6) helicopter by the Naval Research Laboratory in 1946.
Starting in the early 1950’s, the U.S. Navy, Sikorsky and the Pacific Division of Bendix Aviation Corp. began developing the technology for helicopter ASW, combining the speed of an aircraft with underwater sonar previously based aboard ships. Using Sikorsky HSS-1 (H-34) helicopters, hunter-killer technology and tactics were developed and fielded. One helicopter carried a submersible sonar sensor and an airborne processor to detect, locate, and display the target; another helicopter carried a torpedo to address it. Space and payload limits prevented one helicopter from carrying both.
Simultaneously, the Navy recognized the need for improved helicopter engine technology and in 1953 awarded General Electric a $3M contract for the XT-58 “baby gas turbine.” The engine was to weigh 400 pounds and produce 800 HP, a two-to-one improvement over the legacy, reciprocating Wright R-1820 engine powering the HSS-1. The result exceeded expectations. The resulting engine weighed 324 pounds and generated more than 1,000 HP in a 10 cubic-foot package compared with the legacy piston engine of 62 cubic-feet.
The increase of almost four times the power/weight ratio in a compact 1/6th size permitted Sikorsky, for the first time, to truly tailor a helicopter to a mission, rather than tailor a mission to fit the payload and space remaining after the engine was installed.
In the mid 1950’s the U.S. Navy requested that Sikorsky modify an existing HSS-1N to accommodate two T58 engines in place of the R-1820. This was designated as the HSS-1F and showed the significant benefit of turbo-shaft engines over piston engines. The engines were not only lighter and smaller but provided 2,000 horsepower compared to the 1,525 available from the piston engine.
Showing the Large Piston Engine Installation in the Nose
HSS-1F Showing the Compact Installation of the T058 Engine
The benefits of the turbo-shaft were profound. The light weight and small size allowed the Sikorsky designers to place all of the mechanical components (engine, main gearbox, driveshaft, tail gearboxes, and tail rotor) on the top of the fuselage and freed the cockpit and cabin design to be tailored to the mission requirements. Heretofore, the major design problem had been the location of the heavy piston engine with the cockpit and cabin squeezed into the remaining space.
With this new engine, Sikorsky was able to offer the Navy, in place of the HSS-1F, the HSS-2, an all-new design beautifully tailored to the ASW mission. Sikorsky Engineering Report 61007 documenting the October 1957 HSS-2 Mockup Review reported:
“The success of the HSS-1 piston engine helicopter as an anti-submarine search and attack vehicle has prompted the Navy and Sikorsky Aircraft Division to enter into the next logical step, the development of a turbine powered modification of the HSS-1, which incorporates twin turbine engines, amphibious characteristics, all the technological and functional advantages gained through experience with the HSS-1, with capability of performing a combined Hunter-Killer ASW mission.
A new, low frequency, sonar (AQS-11) is being developed concurrently by the Pacific Division of Bendix Aviation Corp. as Contractor Furnished Equipment. This sonar together with the four (4) hour endurance HSS-2 constitute the major components of the first weapon system to meet Navy’s ASW requirements.
HSS-2 Mockup - October, 1957
SH-3A’s over the USS Kearsarge in the early 1960’s
The Bendix dipping sonar system consisted of a sonar reeling machine, a reel of 500 feet of sonar cable, the submersible sensor, sonar data processing and display equipment, and a sonar operator control console. The HSS-2 also featured navigation and mission avionics and sensors to provide automated approach to, and maintenance of, a hover stabilized above the submersed sensor and provisions for carrying and firing torpedoes. This powerful mission suite was enclosed in an airframe with hull and sponson flotation based on the iconic Sikorsky Pan American Clipper flying boats with which Pan American Airlines had pioneered international transoceanic air travel two decades earlier.
The HSS-2 was primarily intended for the ASW mission, but Marine Assault and Army Transport missions were also considered. Sikorsky Engineering Report 61003, Engineering Basic Data Report Model HSS-2, HUS-2, H34B Helicopters, 2/26/57 states:
“General design objectives are:
- Design to accomplish given missions
- Minimum weight
- Component life and Reliability
- Minimum drag and cleanest external surface
- Ease of maintenance
- Manufacturing simplicity.”
The most distinctive feature of the Sikorsky S-61 series is the use of a boat hull with outboard floats (called sponsons). The hull design with a 12 degree deadrise angle was derived from Sikorsky's extensive experience in flying boat design. The outboard sponsons significantly increased the lateral stability in the water. The main landing gear retracted into the sponsons and water take-off and landings were performed with the gear retracted. To increase lateral stability and buoyancy, inflatable floats were added to the outsides of the sponsons.
The other significant configuration item was mounting of the engines and drivetrain above the cabin. This completely separated the cockpit and cabin from the machinery and reduced noise while increasing safety compared to the prior piston engine designs. As noted earlier, this was due to the significant reduction in the size and volume of the turboshaft engines.
HSS-2 hovers over deck of USS Champlain March 1961
The S-61 (HSS-2) was Sikorsky’s first model to employ a main transmission capable of providing almost 100- to-1 reduction ratio needed for the turbo shaft engine’s high, 20,000 rpm, output speed. Prior MGBs had reduction ratios of only 10 or 12- to-one reflecting the much lower output speeds of piston engines. Higher engine output speed forced advancements in free wheel unit technology and high speed bearings.
The main rotor head featured technology previously proven on the S-58, such as basic rotor configuration and the NACA 0012 airfoil, but for the first time offered oil-lubricated rotor bearings, a departure from the previous grease lubrication scheme. Oil lubrication eliminated the need for periodic grease system maintenance. Another important feature of the HSS-2 was the fully automatic main rotor blade fold. Along with simple manual fold of the tail rotor pylon, this allowed for a convenient, compact placement aboard ship. The rapidity and reliability of the blade fold was important operationally and became more so when S-61s were operated from vessels smaller than the ASW carriers on which they were initially deployed.
Automatically stabilized flight and an automated approach to, and maintenance of, a stable hover had been developed in the previous S-58 and S-56 models. An Automatic Stabilization System, ASE, provided electronically stabilized flight. A coupler provided the autopilot functions to automatically approach and maintain a hover fifty feet above the ocean surface, into the wind, stabilized relative to the sonar cable supporting the submerged sonar transducer. A radar altimeter provided altitude; a Doppler radar system provided airspeed data for stabilization and auto approach. Earlier ASE and Coupler systems had consisted of vacuum tube circuits. For the first time HSS-2 systems were fully transistorized solid state circuits.
The HSS-2 was fitted with a two-piece personnel door on the left side, just aft of the cockpit. It also had a large siding door on the right side in the aft cabin. This greatly aided in moving equipment in and out of the cabin.
General Arrangement Drawing
HSS-2 three view drawing
The HSS-2 was equipped with a comprehensive suite of mission electronics that allowed it to track submarines in all weather, day and night. This equipment included:
low frequency ADF
In addition, torpedoes could be carried and launched, making the HSS-2 a submarine hunter/killer.
General Characteristics and Performance
Length, rotors turning
Height, rotors turning
Width, over sponsons
Rotor Speed (100%)
Tail Rotor Speed (100%)
20.0 sq ft
Normal Rated Power
Design Gross Weight
Alternate Gross Weight
Limit Load Factor DGW
Limit Sink Speed
The Sikorsky model designation for the HSS-2(SH-3A) is the S-61. Since 1959, Sikorsky Aircraft has produced 794 aircraft based on the original S-61. At the end of twenty years production, Sikorsky produced the last S-61 in 1980. Sikorsky licensees in Great Britain, Japan, Canada, and Italy have produced an additional 679. It is estimated that up until 2010 S-61s had flown more than 24 million hours in military service and civil use.
S-61 flight hours through 2010
Sikorsky Production by Type
S-61 Production by year
S-61 Licensed Production
Sikorsky developed a series of derivatives based on the S-61 (HSS- 2.) These models are summarized below.
S-61 Commercial Models
The S-61L was designed 1961 with a longer fuselage without sponsons for commercial passenger transport. It first flew on November 2, 1961, and was 4 ft 3 in (1.30 m) longer than the HSS-2 in order to carry a substantial payload of freight or passengers. Initial production S-61Ls were powered by two 1350 shp (1005 kw) GE CT58-140 turboshafts, the civil version of the T58. The S-61L features a modified landing gear to reduce weight. The S-61L was configured to carry up to 30 passengers.
First S-61L delivered to Los Angeles Airways
This was followed by the S-61N which made its first flight on August 7, 1962. Identical to the S-61L except for retaining the HSS-2 (SH-3) floats, this version was optimized for overwater operations, particularly oil rig support. Both the S-61L and S-61N were subsequently updated to Mk II standard with improvements including more powerful CT58-110 engines giving better hot and high performance, vibration damping and other detail refinements.
The first S-61N Serial No. 61143 was delivered to Mitsubishi Corporation on September 26, 1962. This helicopter was still in service serving the Irish Coast Guard under a contract with CHC in 2013. Although the last S-61N was delivered in May 1980, many S-61N helicopters are still in service in 2013. Many modifications have been made over the years including removing to front fuselage plug (the Shortsky) to save weight and increase external lift capability, removing the sponsons and replacing with S-61L style landing gear and many avionic upgrades as technology has progressed.
The first S-61N still in service in 2013 with the Irish Coast Guard
On the military side, the U.S. Air Force ordered 3 SH-3A helicopters with the all ASW equipment removed to provide logistics support for 2 offshore early warning radar stations (Texas Towers) located out in the Atlantic Ocean off of the New England Coast. These helicopters were based at Otis AFB, Massachusetts and designated as the CH-3B.
Not long after acceptance by the Air Force CH-3B (62-12574), dubbed the “Otis Falcon“, flew from Otis AFB Massachusetts to Paris France. Total flight time was 35.5 hours and included stops in Labrador, Canada, Greenland, Iceland and Scotland before landing in Paris. The “Otis Falcon” upon completing its European visit was returned to the US via ship.
U.S. Air Force CH-3B “Otis Falcon”
The S-61R was a company funded model developed as a derivative of the S-61/SH-3 Sea King model. It featured a substantially-revised fuselage with a rear loading ramp, a conventional though water-tight hull instead of the S-61's boat-hull, and retractable tricycle landing gear. The fuselage layout was similar to the larger S-65(H-53) variants.
2012 photo of S-61R N664Y, the S-61R prototype, with sponsons removed
General Arrangement Drawing
CH/HH-3C/E/F 3 view drawing
The S-61R prototype made its first flight in 1963. During its development, the U.S, Air Force placed an order for the aircraft, which was designated the CH-3C. The Air Force used the CH-3C for utility missions. A rescue version, HH-3C with camouflage paint and rescue equipment added was equipped to recover downed pilots. The CH-3E variant with more powerful engines followed in 1965.
U.S. Air Force CH-3C lifts Army jeep with mounted 105mm howitzer 1964
HH-3C flying over Vietnam 1968
The HH-3E featured protective armor, self-sealing tanks, a retractable inflight refueling probe, jettisonable external tanks, a high-speed hoist, and other specialized equipment. It was the work horse rescue helicopter in Vietnam until the arrival of the HH-53B/C. The HH-3E known as the “Jolly Green Giant”, saw wide and excellent service in search and rescue missions. One HH-3E, Serial No. 67-14709, had a long and distinguished history. Assigned to the 37th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron at Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, it flew with the call sign “Jolly Green 2”in the Vietnam War. During 32 months of service in Vietnam, the crewmen assigned to it received one Air Force Cross and fourteen Silver Stars for heroism. In addition, they were credited with the rescue of 27 American Airmen. This helicopter has been restored and is on display at The National Museum of the Air Force, Dayton, Ohio.
The HH-3E featured in-flight refueling equipment permitting the world’s first non-stop helicopter flight across the Atlantic Ocean, from New York to Paris, in 1967. Two U.S. Air Force Sikorsky HH-3E 'Jolly Green Giant' search and rescue helicopters departed New York on May 31st on their way to a 30 hour 46 minute flight to Paris. Refueled nine times each by C-130 tanker planes at altitudes of between 1,000 and 9,000 feet and speeds of 125 mph, the helicopters landed at Le Bourget during the 27th Paris Air Show. The two helicopters took off at 1:05 in the morning, New York time, in order to arrive during the middle of 'Helicopter Day' at 1:51 in the afternoon, Paris time. Air Combat magazine remembered this .historic event in its April 1992 edition. A link to this article is provided below.
Air Force HH-3E pilots, Major Herbert Zehnder (left) and Major Donald Maurras (right) are greeted by
Igor Sikorsky at the 27th Paris Air Show after a non-stop Atlantic crossing in 1967.
U.S. Air Force HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant” rescue helicopter.
In 1965, the U.S. Coast Guard ordered a S-61R version designated HH-3F “Pelican” for all-weather extended range search and rescue (SAR) missions over the open sea. The HH-3F had a range of 655 nautical miles. The first of 40 HH-3F helicopters was delivered in 1969. Deliveries continued for the next four years. In addition the Coast Guard obtained five U.S. Air Force HH-3E helicopters and converted them to the HH-3F configuration. The HH-3F was removed from service after 25 years in 1994.
The unique HH-3F Avionics suite included:
The AN/APN-195 radar set was a lightweight, weather radar system consisting of a receiver transmitter, synchronizer, control panel, indicator and antenna. The radome was mounted on the nose of the helicopter. The radar provided an accurate and continuous picture of weather conditions (weather map) in the general sky area ahead of the helicopter and was used for weather avoidance, a navigation and search aid to extend the vision of the pilot. The radar had 3 ranges: 10, 30, and 60 miles.
The Avionics and Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) on the HH-3F was a giant step forward in Coast Guard helicopters. The AFCS allowed coupled approaches and coupled hovering and in conjunction with the Navigation Computer allowed the helicopter to flight coupled search patterns (Ladder Search, Sector Search, Square Search and a holding pattern) which allowed both pilots to aid in the visual and radar search.
AN/AYN·1 Navigation Computer
The navigation computer was a compact, lightweight, computer system that had the capability of solving aircraft navigational problems with information derived from aircraft navigation systems which included:
Manual Inputs. (Destination, desired search pattern and length of legs, magnetic variation and wind velocity).
Automatic Inputs to the computer were:
Based on these inputs the computer calculated:
A Map Display required the pilot to insert a standard paper air navigation chart and the computer provided a continuous indication of present position by a “Bug Light” and provided a permanent record of the flight by pin punching the chart every 10 seconds.
In 2013, with GPS, a few APPs, and an iPad, all this information is at your fingertips but the HH3F was “State of the Art” in 1969.
The HH-3F Pelican was the workhorse of the U.S. Coast Guard. Serving from the early 1969 until well into the late 1994, the HH-3F is credited with saving 23,169 lives and assisted 65,377 others. With a speed of 142 knots and a maximum range of 650 nautical miles, the HH-3F was well suited to its amphibious, all weather search and rescue duties. A common phrase among USCG Aircrewman was 'Only God has saved more lives'.
U.S Coast Guard HH-3F Pelican
In Italy Augusta built an S-61R variant, named AS-61R under license. Augusta produced 22 helicopters for the Italian Air Force.
Italian Air Force AS-61R (HH-3F) rescue helicopter
Another HSS-2 derivative was the S-67 Blackhawk gunship. This was a Sikorsky developed aircraft with a streamlined fuselage, main rotor head and blade modifications for high speed, and speed brakes mounted on wing trailing edges to enhance maneuverability. Begun in 1969, first flight was in August of 1970. In 1974, with a ducted fan replacing the conventional tail rotor, the S67 reached a speed of 230 mph. The S67 did not enter production. Additional information is available on the Archives Website at:
S-67 Blackhawk gunship
VH-3A/D Presidential Support Helicopters
VH-3D approaching the White House South Lawn
By far, the most familiar HSS-2 derivative is the Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) Executive Flight Detachment VH-3D Marine One helicopter with its distinctive white top. (The white tops date from HMX-1 VH-34C helicopters first used in the Eisenhower administration. Without air conditioning, the original white tops were intended to deflect heat for a cooler interior.) The VH-3’s featured communication equipment, executive furnishings, and air conditioning tailored to the mission. This aircraft transports the President of the United States, other members of the Executive Branch, and other VIP’s. Sikorsky delivered the first VH-3A in 1962. An upgraded derivative, the VH-3D, continues this proud service today.
The VH-3A helicopters as they were removed from HMX-1 duties were distributed to museums and one was given to Anwar Sadat, the President of Egypt, a gift from President Nixon. Other went to U.S. Navy for use as VIP transports. The last operational VH-3A assigned to HSC-2, Norfolk to ferry Admirals to the Pentagon and other missions as required. The HSC-1 VH-3A flew its final mission on January 27, 2006.
President Kennedy boards the VH-3A helicopter for the first time May 8, 1962
Last VH-3A flight January 27, 2006
VH-3D equipment includes Day/night/all-weather operations, self-contained navigation system, GPS, TCAS, survivability systems, and crash-survivable flight information recorder sensor, and carries no weapons. Communications include extensive secure and non-secure communication systems; and EMP hardening. The last VH-3D helicopter was delivered in 1976. The VD-3D helicopters are supported by Sikorsky Aircraft which provides a closed loop supply system and a scheduled depot level maintenance program (Special Periodic Aircraft Rework). The helicopters are brought back to “Like New” condition during each SPAR and systems modernized as new technology develops.
A VH-3D from HMX-1 departs the White House South Lawn
VH-3D Night takeoff with President Obama visible in window
In Italy, Augusta built 2 helicopters, under license, similar to the VH-3A for the Italian Air Force to provide transportation for the Pope. This helicopter served The Holy See causing some to call it a “Holy See King” rather than a “Sea King”.
The ASH-3D/TS helicopters of the Italian Air Force Volo Papale (Papal Flight) carried the Pope for 37 years (1975-2012). In October, 2012 the ASH-3D helicopters were replaced by the much smaller AW-139.
Italian Air Force Volo Papale (Papal Flight) ASH-3D/TS
The last ASH-3D/TS Volo Papale (Papal Flight) in October 2012
The S-61 helicopter lives on. In 2010, 29 years after delivering the last S-61 helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft received a Department of State contract for remanufactured S-61N and S-61T Triton helicopters. The contract was a 5 year Indefinite Delivery-Indefinite Quantity contract for up to 110 modernized S-61 helicopters. The first deliveries of two S-61N helicopters was completed on June 10, 2010. The S-61T Program is managed by Sikorsky Aerospace Services.
Notable Accomplishments for Sikorsky S-61 Series
First single rotor helicopter with 5 blades
First helicopter designed specifically for airline use
Set world’s speed record for helicopters:
First deliveries to U.S. Navy
World's first multi-turbine helicopter certified for passenger transport.
Set new speed records (with sponsons removed):
S-61L & N
First civil helicopters certified as IFR transports
Presidential transport helicopters delivered
First helicopter operational in-flight refueling
Experimental compound version achieves 204 knots (6 bladed rotor, two J69 jets)
S-61F compound helicopter
First flight minesweeping version
First helicopter to fly non-stop across Atlantic (with 9 In-flight refuelings)
Apollo 11 astronauts recovered by SH-3D “66” of squadron HS-4. The first of many such recoveries by the SH-3D
SH-3H remanufacturing program initiated
Last S-61 produced at Sikorsky after 20 years in production
SH-3A recovers Apollo 17 Astronauts December 19, 1972
Fuselage, Landing Gear
Max Gross Weight
Short Fuselage – original design for HSS-2, SH-3A
Long Fuselage – S-61L & S-61N civil versions, 50 inches longer than short
Rear Ramp – S-61R new design with tricycle LG, 39.5 inches longer than short
Small Horizontal Tail – 20 sq ft, no strut
Large Horizontal Tail – 27 sq ft with strut
Small Tail Rotor – 10ft 4in diameter
Large Tail Rotor – 10ft, 7.25in diameter
Small Sponson – original to SH-3A, 2,200 lb displacement each
Large Sponson – used on S-61N, 3,200 lb displacement each
Long Sponson – same as small, extended aft to hold towed MAD or sonobuoys
Strut – fixed landing gear on S-61L
Stub Wing – S-61R retracts LG into sub wings on aft fuselage
TW – Tail Wheel
Tri - Tricycle
Continuous HP per Engine
Max HP per Engine
MGB HP Limit
HP – Horse Power
MGB – Main Gear Box
Note on US Naval Aircraft Designations.
The first S61 model carried the US Navy designation HSS-2. H for helicopter, first S for antisubmarine, second S for Sikorsky, and -2 denoting the second model in the series, since the HSS-2 was preceded by the S-58 HSS-1. In 1962 Navy modified their designation pattern so that the HSS-2 became the SH-3, with S for antisubmarine and H for helicopter.
Additional Information Sources
Information on mid-20th-century anti-submarine warfare was obtained from: The Third Battle: Innovation in the U.S. Navy's Silent Cold War Struggle with Soviet Submarines, March 2000, by Owen Cote Jr., Director, MIT Security Studies Program, to whom the author is most grateful.
Color photos were obtained from the extensive Wikipedia files for the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King, Sikorsky S-61R, Sikorsky VH-3, and Sikorsky S61L, for which the author is most grateful.
Prepared by Jim Bohan & Tom Lawrence
January 31, 2012
Updated to provide additional detail on the S-61L/N and S-61R models
Vinny Devine December 2013
Last Update DECEMBER 18, 2013