The Sikorsky H-3 Sea King (company designation S-61) is a twin engine multipurpose amphibious helicopter manufactured by the Sikorsky Aircraft Company.
The Sea King was developed by Sikorsky in the late 1950s in response to a contract awarded to them by the US Navy to design an all-weather amphibious helicopter that specialized in anti-submarine warfare. The first prototype (XHSS-2) made its maiden
flight on March 11th, 1959, and completed its carrier suitability trials in 1961. The aircraft was designated HSS-2 (later changed to SH-3A), and entered service in September 1961.
The H-3 saw use in a variety of roles during its operation. As it entered service during the Cold War, many were used to track Soviet submarines. They were also used for search-and-rescue during the Vietnam War. These variants were called the HH-3E "Jolly Green Giant", and were usually fitted with self-sealing fuel tanks and defensive armaments. The Sea King served as a recovery aircraft during a number of NASA's space programs, including the Mercury and Apollo programs, and is still used a presidential transport aircraft under the name "Marine One"; one of the only official roles it still has in the US military. However, as the H-3 became more obsolete during the 1990s, in began to be replaced by the SH-60 Sea Hawk. It was largely retired from US service by 2006.
The civilian versions of the Sea King, called S-61, are still in use, mainly for transport and fire bombing. The smaller, single engined S-62 was used by the US Coast Guard as an SAR and utility helicopter. It has been license-built by Canada (as the CH-124), Britain (as the Westland WS-61), and Japan, and still serves with a number of militaries around the world. Additionally, Sikorsky privately developed the experimental S-67 Blackhawk attack helicopter around the H-3's dynamic drive and rotor systems.
- Powerplant: two General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines
- Top speed: 166 mph
- Range: 621 miles
- Ceiling: 14,700 feet
- Crew: 4
- Empty weight: 11,865 lbs
- Length: 54 feet 9 inches
- Height: 16 feet 10 inches
- Rotor diameter: 62 feet
- Armament: SH-3: two anti-submarine torpedoes; one B57 nuclear depth charge.