Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King

The Sikorsky S-61 amphibious transport helicopter was initially developed for the US Navy, entering service as the HSS-2 (later redesignated as the SH-3A).

Sikorsky built more than 1100 S-61s, and this excellent machine was also built with license by Westland in UK, Agusta in Italy and by Mitsubishi in Japan.

Developing nation: United States of America.
Manufacturer: Sikorsky AircraftWestland in UK, Agusta in Italy and by Mitsubishi in Japan.
Type aircraft: anti-submarine warfare/Search & Rescue/transport helicopter.
First flight: 11 March 1959.
Produced: 1959-1970s.

The SH-3H helicopter was manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and designed to detect, identify, track and destroy enemy submarines.  As an antisubmarine platform the H-3 is equipped with a dipping sonar and armed with Mark 46 torpedoes.

In 1967, Westland obtained a licence to build a version of the HSS-2 in the UK with all British avionics, including the proven Ekco radar/ Type 195 sonar combination from the Wessex HAS.3 and replacing the US engines with twin Gnome H1400s. An initial order for 60 Sea King HAS.1s was placed by the RN and the first UK built machine flew on 7 May 1969 from Yeovil.

At least 7 main versions of the Sea King developed for the UK armed forces, plus a further 7 near derivatives for export and 3 versions in the Commando tactical assault (and VIP transport) role.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4 (2 pilots, 2 ASW systems operators)
  • Capacity: 3 passengers
  • Length: 16.7 m (54 ft 9 in)
  • Rotor diameter: 19 m (62 ft)
  • Height: 5.13 m (16 ft 10 in)
  • Disc area: ft² (m²)
  • Empty weight: 5,382 kg (11,865 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 8,449 kg (18,626 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 10,000 kg (22,050 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshafts, 1,400 shp (kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 267 km/h (166 mph)
  • Range: 1,000 km (621 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 4,481 m (14,700 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 400-670 m/min (1,310-2,220 ft/min)


  • 2× Mk 46/44 anti-submarine torpedoes (SH-3H)
  • Various sonobuoys and pyrotechnic devices
  • B-57 Nuclear depth charge

All pictures courtesy of Zijde Aviation Photo and Publishing, Rob Vogelaar