A CH-53E Marine Corps helicopter on a scouting mission over the desert.
History of the CH-53E Marine Corps helicopter
The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion is a heavy-lift helicopter operated by the United States military. As the Sikorsky S-80, it was developed from the CH-53 Sea Stallion. This was accomplished mainly by adding a third engine, adding a seventh blade to the main rotor, and canting the tail rotor 20°. It was built by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Marine Corps.
The CH-53 was the product of the U.S. Marines’ “Heavy Helicopter Experimental” (HH(X)) competition begun in 1962. The prototype YCH-53A first flew on 14 October 1964. The helicopter was designated “CH-53A Sea Stallion” and delivery of production helicopters began in 1966. The first CH-53As were powered by two General Electric T64-GE-6 turboshaft engines with 2,850 shp (2,125 kW). It had a maximum gross weight of 46,000 lb (20,865 kg), including 20,000 lb (9,072 kg) in payload.
Variants of the original CH-53A Sea Stallion include the RH-53A/D, HH-53B/C, CH-53D, CH-53G, and MH-53H/J/M.The RH-53A and RH-53D were used by the US Navy for minesweeping. The CH-53D included a more powerful version of the General Electric T64 engine, used in all H-53 variants, and external fuel tanks.
Changes on the CH-53E also include a stronger transmission and a fuselage stretched 6 feet 2 inches. The main rotor blades were changed to a titanium-fiberglass composite. The low-mounted, horizontal tail was replaced by a larger, vertical tail. The tail rotor was tilted from the vertical to provide some lift in hover while counteracting the main rotor torque. Also added was a new automatic flight control system. The digital flight control system prevented the pilot from overstressing the aircraft.
YCH-53E testing showed that it could lift 17.8 tons (to a 50-foot wheel height). Without an external load, it could reach 170 knots at a 56,000 pound gross weight. This led to two preproduction aircraft and a static test article being ordered. At this time, the tail was redesigned to include a high-mounted, horizontal surface opposite the rotor. This helps with tilt at high speed.
The initial production contract was awarded in 1978, and service introduction followed in February 1981. The first production CH-53E flew in December 1980. The US Navy acquired the CH-53E in small numbers for shipboard resupply. The Marines and Navy acquired a total of 177.
The base-model CH-53E serves both the US Navy and Marines in the heavy-lift transport role. It is capable of lifting heavy equipment, including the eight-wheeled LAV-25 light armored vehicle and the M198 155 mm Howitzer with ammunition and crew. The Super Stallion can recover aircraft up to its size, which includes all Marine Corps aircraft except for the KC-130.
Desert Stallion Prints
The 16″ x 21″ prints are available in Limited Edition sizes of 300 Signed & Numbered and 25 Artist Proofs.