The only UH-1B gunship left, and it’s a HA(L)-3 Sea Wolf!
I now know what the WW2 guys feel like when they see a P-51 or an F6F or one of the other machines from their youth. Was out at Chino today, and all of a sudden I hear the unmistakeable WHOP-WHOP-WHOP of a Huey, and then over the hangars an OD Huey pops into view and the pilot brings her right around in to the tarmac in front of the hangars as pretty as you please, and as he swung her around in a 360, I went “Holy cowabunga! (not really) It’s a UH-1B!” and then I saw NAVY on the tail, and the 7.62 minigun on the left side and the big M-2 50-cal on the right, and I said “Oh my God! It’s a gunship! It’s a Sea Wolf!” Hadn’t seen one in 50 years. It is in fact one of only two UH-1Bs that flies, and the only one that’s been restored as a gunship. Brought back as a wreck, restored over 10 years by a group of guys from HA(L)-3, and it is in fact a former HA(L)-3 bird. That’s Helicopter Light Attack Squadron Three, aka The Brown Water Navy’s Air Force, the only Navy helo gunship unit in the war. All the Vietnam guys gathered around, and the Army guys were amazed when they looked at the armament – no bungee mounts for these babies, nice solid mounts. “How the hell did you guys fire a fifty like that and stay in the air?” I heard one guy ask. To which the pilot replied, “Well it wasn’t as hard as when I mounted 7.62 miniguns for my door guns and set the rate of fire at 8,000 rpm…”
Here’s shots of her taking off to go back to Temecula where she lives. Sorry I had to shoot into the sun, but the School Safety Patrol wouldn’t let me go out to the other side to do it right.
Also some closer shots of the armament.
17 additional images. Click to enlarge.