The mystery aircraft in our Summer Issue was the U.S. Army's H-37 Mojave medium-lift helicopter. The Marine Corps used this rotorcraft under the designation HR2S.
The H-37 was a result of Korean War experience, where transport rotorcraft first hauled troops and cargo around the battlefield.
Resembling a mantis on steroids, the H-37 derived its ungainly appearance from its mission--to lift cargo, both internally and slung beneath the fuselage--and by clamshell doors at the front of the aircraft. Replete with a tail wheel that dangled from the rear fuselage, the H-37 looked like a committee had designed it. Still, soldiers liked it, although it was not always beloved by maintainers.
"It burned oil almost as fast as it did gas," said retired Master Sgt. Cecil Shipp, of Augusta, Georgia, who worked H-37s in Korea in 1964. "We called it 'Shake, Rattle and Roll.' Still, it was a workhorse. It flew pretty well although it was a little sluggish when maneuvering."
The HR2S-1 prototype for the Marine Corps made its first flight December 18, 1953. The H-37 joined the Army the following year.
Eighty-eight feet long with a rotor diameter just over 72 feet, the H-37 was the largest helicopter outside the Soviet Union. It was powered by two 2,100-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasps, the same piston engines that powered the World War II P-47 Thunderbolt. The H-37 is credited with a maximum speed of 126 miles per hour.
The lift capacity of the H-37 was the reason for its existence and the reason it was replaced when the more robust CH-47 Chinook came along in the early 1960s. Literature about the helicopter proclaimed that it could carry two Jeeps, a 105-mm. howitzer, 26 combat troops, or 24 medical litter patients. In practical terms, any of these loads was more than it could carry very far.
The career of the H-37, re-named the CH-37 in 1962, was truncated by the arrival of new helicopters in inventory, particularly the Chinook, and by the advent of the gas turbine engine, which was more efficient and economical than piston power. Some veterans recall that the cost of operating the H-37, relative to other choppers, was close to being prohibitive.
Marines and soldiers began retiring their CH-37s in the mid-1960s. Today, no airworthy example exists but a handful remain as museum display items, including one at the Army's museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Our follow-up photo from Shipp depicts Army CH-37A 57-1655 in a hover, wearing the vertical yellow stripes that identify an aircraft flying into the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom, where Korean War armistice negotiations continue today.
Our "History Mystery" winner is Earl Lock of Lexington, Kentucky--the only reader to win this contest three times in its 24-year history. His prize is a copy of the just-published book "Mission to Tokyo," a history of B-29 Superfortress crews in World War II.
This Issue's Mystery Plane
Responding to several reader requests to make this contest easier (this is the fun part of the magazine, remember), we'll challenge you this time around to write a sentence about our new "History Mystery" aircraft. Remember the rules:
1. Submit your entry via e-mail to email@example.com. Entries may also be sent via postal mail in any format to Robert F. Dorr, 3411 Valewood Drive, Oak ton VA 22124.
2. Write a sentence about the aircraft shown here. Include your address and telephone number. One contest entrant had to be disqualified this time around because she did not include a phone number.
3. A winner will be randomely chosen from the correct entries and will receive an aviation book.
And let's get serious about those historical treasures in your attic or basement. Some readers say they just don't remember where their color slides are. That's not a good way to assure the preservation of history. Dig out your slide or snapshot of a rare aircraft and lend it to Air Power History for this contest.