Sikorsky H-34 Choctaw
Operational History

The U.S. Coast Guard flew these helicopters from 1959 to 1962.


French evaluations on the reported ground fire vulnerabilities of the CH-34 may have influenced the U.S. Army's decision to deploy the CH-21 Shawnee to Vietnam instead of the CH-34, pending the introduction into widespread service of the Bell UH-1 Iroquois. However, the approximately twenty Army H-34s that did eventually reach Vietnam proved no more vulnerable to ground fire than any other rotary-wing aircraft in the theater, and the CH-34 successfully carried out missions ranging from combat assault to aeromedical evacuation and general cargo transport.

The US Marine Corps continued to use the H-34 pattern even after the US Army had phased it out. Even after the USMC adopted their own version of the UH-1, the UH-1E, the CH-34s continued to up to and for a period after the Tet Offensive in 1968. Marine Corps H-34s were also among the first gunship helicopters trialed in theatre, being fitted with the Temporary Kit-1 (TK-1), comprised of 4 M60C machine guns and two 19 shot 2.75 inch rocket pods. The operations were met with mixed enthusiasm, and the armed H-34s, known as "Stingers" were quickly phased out. The TK-1 kit would form the basis of the TK-2 kit used on the UH-1E helicopters of the USMC.

Most of the twenty surviving CH-34 helicopters were turned over to the South Vietnamese during the course of the war, though a few were ultimately reclaimed by the Army prior to the final collapse of the Saigon Government.

Post-Vietnam The CH-34 Choctaw remained in frontline Army service well into the late 1960s, and was standard equipment in many Army Reserve and National Guard aviation units for considerably longer. Indeed, the last Choctaw was not officially retired until the early 1970s. Sikorsky production ceased in 1970, with 1,800 built.

Foreign Service The French Navy adopted the SH-34 Seabat in 1955, using the helicopter during the Algerian War of 1956-62.The French Army had earlier modified the H-19 and Piasecki H-21 with rockets and machine guns for use in a ground attack role; the French Navy performed the same modification to the CH-34 which was developed under the name "Pirate" and was extensively used in counter-insurgency airborne operations. The H-19 proved underpowered for the ground attack role, and the H-21 lacked mobility. The H-34 was able to carry more armament, including a MG151 20 mm cannon firing from the cabin door, two M2 12.7 mm machine guns firing from the cabin windows to port, and batteries of 37- or 68-mm rockets. 73 mm rockets and additional machine guns were also employed on some versions. Official evaluations at the time had indicated that the CH-21 was more likely to survive multiple hits by ground fire than was the CH-34; this was assumed to be a consequence of the location and construction of the CH-34's fuel tanks.

Wikipedia: H-34 Choctaw