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HSL (Bell Model 61)
Role tandem-rotor ASW helicopter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Bell Helicopter
First flight 3 March 1953
Introduction 1957
Primary user United States Navy
Number built 53 including one static test article

The Bell HSL (Model 61) was an American 1950s anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter built by Bell Helicopter company, the only tandem rotor type designed by Bell.

Design and development[edit | edit source]

The prototype Bell Model 61 first flew on 3 March 1953; it had been designed to meet a United States Navy requirement for an anti-submarine warfare helicopter. In June 1950, the Model 61 was announced as the winner of the competition, and three XHSL-1 evaluation aircraft were ordered. The Model 61 had a rectangular-section fuselage structure and a four-leg, six-wheel landing gear. It was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine mounted in the aft fuselage. Crew included two pilots and two sonar operators.[1]

Because of the urgency of the requirement, low-rate production was ordered almost immediately after Bell received a contract for three XHSL-1s. The Navy eventually contracted for at least 160 production aircraft, including 18 intended for the British Royal Navy. Bureau Numbers were assigned for a total of 234. Because of development problems that resulted in poor schedule performance to the contract, only 50 were built. Although all were delivered, after service test and acceptance only a handful were used, for the development of airborne mine sweeping. The rest were delivered directly into storage and were subsequently struck off.

Operational history[edit | edit source]

The HSLs were not used operationally. Approximately seven were assigned to the U.S. Naval Air Mine Defense Unit at Panama City, Florida, for the development of airborne mine-sweeping, the first arriving in September 1956 and the last being struck off in early 1960.

Variants[edit | edit source]

two experimental flight test and one static test article
production version, 50 built.
Bell Model 61
Company designation for the HSL
Bell D-116
A proposed civil variant of the Model 61, not proceeded with.
Bell D-216
A proposed variant of the HSL, not proceeded with.
Bell D-238
A proposed variant of the HSL, not proceeded with.

Operators[edit | edit source]

United States

Specifications (HSL-1)[edit | edit source]

Data from [2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4
  • Length: 39 ft 1 in (11.9 m) (fuselage only)
  • Width: 11 ft 6 in (3.5 m) (rotors folded)
  • Height: 14 ft 6 in (4.42 m)
  • Gross weight: 26,500 lb (12,020 kg)
  • Rotor diameter' (both) 51ft 6in (15.7m)
  • Rotor disc area 4,170sq ft (387.4sq m)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-50 18-cyl. two-row air-cooled radial piston engine, 2,400 hp (1,800 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 115 mph (185 km/h; 100 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 96 mph (83 kn; 154 km/h)
  • Range: 350 mi (304 nmi; 563 km)

See also[edit | edit source]



References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Navy's Most Powerful Helicopter to Hunt Submarines." Popular Mechanics, August 1953, p. 121.
  2. Pelletier, Alain J. (1992). Bell Aircraft since 1935 (1st ed.). London: Putnam & Company Ltd.. pp. 100–102. ISBN 1-55750-056--8. OCLC 91-66350. 
  • Andrade, John M. U.S.Military Aircraft Designation and Serials since 1909. Leicester, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1979. ISBN 0-904597-22-9.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985). London, Orbis Publishing, 1985.
  • Thomason, Tommy H. The Forgotten Bell HSL. Simi Valley, CA: Ginter Books, 2005. ISBN 978-0-942612-70-7

External links[edit | edit source]

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