H-21 Workhorse

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Manufacturer: Piasecki, Morton, PA
Designation: H-21
Version: B
Nickname: Workhorse
Type: Helicopter (Utility)
Specifications (below is for CH-21B)
Fuselage Length: 52' 7"  
Height: 15' 4"  
Rotor Diameter: 44'  
Overall length, including rotor arcs 86'  4"  
Cost: $406,000  
Gross Weight: 10,223 lbs  
Propulsion (below is for CH-21B)
No. of Engines: 1
Powerplant: Wright R-1820
Horsepower (each): 1,425 hp
Performance (below is for CH-21B)
Range: 400 miles  
Cruise Speed: 90 mph    
Max Speed: 132 Mph    
Ceiling: 19,200 Ft  


The H-21 was developed in 1949 and five were delivered to the Marine Corps to
test as utility aircraft. It quickly earned the nickname "Flying Banana" due to
its odd shape. The aircraft is oddly shaped to prevent the rotors from
interfering with one another. The designer, Frank Piasecki, was the first person
in the United States to hold a commercial helicopter license. Piasecki Aviation
changed its name to Vertol in 1956 and is still designing aircraft as a Boeing
division. These early helicopters were used as utility and rescue aircraft in
the Korean War. They had inflatable pontoons on the wheels allowing the aircraft
to land on water. Considered to be the first heavy lift helicopter, a modified
HU-21 made the first nonstop transcontinental helicopter flight on 24 August

The museum's HU-21B has serial number 53-4326. According to the Air Force
Historical Research Agency (AFHRA/RSA), Maxwell AFB, AL, the museum's HU-21B has
the following history:

- Manufactured by Piasecki Helicopters, Morton PA and delivered to the USAF
on 5 Jan 1956.

- Jan 1956  --- To Middletown Air Materiel Area, Olmstead AFB PA

- Apr 1956 --- To 6615th Air Transport (Medium) Squadron (Northeast Air
Command), Goose AB Labrador

- Aug 1956 --- To 6606th Air Base Wing (NEAC), Goose AB

- Nov 1956 --- To 22nd Helicopter Squadron (NEAC), Goose AB

- Apr 1957 --- Unit assigned to Strategic Air Command

- Nov 1959 --- To 814th Combat Support Group (SAC), Westover AFB

- Jan 1960 --- To 1001st Air Base Wing (Headquarters Command, USAF), Andrews

- Aug 1961 --- To 1001st Helicopter Flight (HQC), Bolling AFB DC

- Apr 1962 --- To 1001st Air Base Wing (HQC), Bolling AFB

- Sep 1962 --- To 5010th Combat Support Group (Alaskan Air Command), Eielson

- Jun 1963 --- Dropped from inventory as surplus

Unofficial sources state that it was seized during a search warrant drug raid
on 13 September 1985. It had been abandoned in the Lake Elsinore area by drug
transporters and became the property of the Riverside County Sheriff under
Federal Law. It was towed to the museum along public roads early in the morning.
It was donated to the museum jointly by the Riverside County Sheriff's
Department and the City of Riverside Police Department in 1991.