CH-54 Skycrane Helicopter

The CH-54 Tarhe is better known as the Sky Crane. Manufactured by Sikorsky, the CH-54 entered service in 1964 and served into the 1980s.

After serving in the U.S. military carrying out a wide variety of tasks, ex-military CH-54 Skycranes have also served well for firefighting and other civilian public service or commercial missions.

A CH-54 Skycrane helicopter with an F-100 Super Sabre from 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, 1979.  The aircraft is being placed on static display near the base headquarters building.
A CH-54 Skycrane helicopter with an F-100 Super Sabre from 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, 1979. The aircraft is being placed on static display near the base headquarters building.

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CH-54 Tarhe Sky Crane Helicopter

CH-54 Tarhe Sky Crane Helicopter was very successful in Vietnam where it was credited with the recovery of hundreds of downed aircraft as well as having the ability to move artillery and supplies to firebases that were unreachable by land. In addition to lifting heavy objects by sling, the CH54 was used with specialized container units that fit in the open section of its body and could contain mobile command post, medical, maintenance, or troop transport modules.

The CH-54 was used in tests that developed the concept of the "Daisy Cutter" bomb used to create instant LZs with a huge, tree-leveling explosion. The tests were successful and the CH-54 was employed in Vietnam for that purpose.

CH54A Sky Crane (powered by two Pratt & Whitney T73-P-1 4500 shp turbine engines) could lift 20,000 pounds while the improved CH-54B (powered by two Pratt & Whitney T73-P-700 4800 shp turbine engines) could lift over 40,000 pounds. There was an internal winch so payload could be picked up or delivered without landing. The CH-54 Skycrane was used for loads too heavy for the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter.

The CH-54 Tarhe had a rotor diameter of 72 feet and was 88 feet, 5 inches in length. The aircraft weighed 20,700 pounds without payload. It had an airspeed of 100k cruise and 130k maximum.

CH-54 Sky Crane Helicopter carrying M-551 Sheridan Light Tank
CH-54 Sky Crane Helicopter carrying M-551 Sheridan Light Tank.

CH-54A Sky Crane Helicopter at 1st Cavalry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005.Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit
CH-54A Sky Crane Helicopter at 1st Cavalry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005.Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.

CH-54A Sky Crane Helicopter at 1st Cavalry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005.  Note the rear-facing pilot seat (so load can be observed) and winch.  Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit
CH-54A Sky Crane Helicopter at 1st Cavalry Division Museum, Ft. Hood, TX, 2 December 2005. Note the rear-facing pilot seat (so load can be observed) and winch. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Pettit.

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