Piasecki H-21C: The Army's Big Banana

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Introduction and History
The Piasecki is a large, tandem rotor utility helicopter produced by Piasecki (later known as Vertol) as an Army and Air Force successor to their previous Navy design, the HRP-2 Rescuer. Known as the “Workhorse”, or later as the “Shawnee”, the contract was awarded to Piasecki in February of 1950, with the first model taking flight in April 1952 and accepted into Army and USAF service by 1953. There were three different variants of the H-21:

  1. The H-21A, based on the original YH-21
  2. The H-21B, based on the H-21A but with a more powerful engine
  3. The H-21C, which was the Army version of the H-21B

The H-21 was too late to enter the Korean War, and it was therefore pressed into combat service during the Vietnam War by 1961. While promising during use in the United States, problems were immediately apparent when the aircraft’s powerplant struggled with the climate in Vietnam. On top of this, the large unarmored silhouette of the aircraft proved to be very susceptible to shootdowns by small arms fire. Despite these apparent shortcomings, the H-21 was the Army’s mainstay utility helicopter until 1964, when it was finally replaced by Bell’s iconic UH-1 Iroquois. By 1965, the H-21 had been completely withdrawn from frontline service. Two experiment models, known as the H-21D, were powered by two turboshafts rather than the single radial engine. While these would not enter production, they would become the basis for Vertol’s CH-46 Sea Knight.

The H-21, despite its large and banana-like appearance, was a very capable and well-liked aircraft while in normal service.

Specifications (H-21C)

Crew: 2 (Pilot and Co-Pilot) with seating for 20 additional personnel
Length (Rotors Turning): 86’ 4"
Length (Rotors In Phase and Static): 75’ 3"
Length (Rotors Dephased): 65’ 10"
Length (Blades Folded): 52’ 7"
Width (Blades Folded): 14’
Width (Rotors Turning): 44’
Tread: 13’ 4" (Main Gear)
Height (Blades Folded): 15’ 9"
Height (Blades Extended): 15’ 4"
Fuel capacity: 300 gallons in 1 tank, with provisions for 2 165-gallon external tanks

Empty Weight: 8526 lbs.
Useful Load: 4712 lbs.
Normal Gross Weight: 13238 lbs.
Overload Gross Weight: 13500 lbs.
Maximum Overload: 15061 lbs.

Do Not Exceed Speed: 105 to 110 knots
Ceiling: 9,250 ft. to 10,000 ft. standard (18,000 ft. maximum pressure altitude)
Range: 704 nmi with auxiliary tanks
Engine: Wright R-1820-103 9-cylinder radial (1425 hp)
Engine RPM: 1000 (idle), 2260 to 2700
Main Rotor RPM: 235 to 260 (350 Overspeed)
Maximum climb rate (10000 lbs.): 1912 ft./min @ SL, 294 ft./min. @ 18,000 ft.
Maximum climb rate (11500 lbs.): 1449 ft./min. @ SL, 88 ft./min. @ 14,000 ft.
Maximum climb rate (13000 lbs.): 1029 ft./min. @ SL, 387 ft./min. @ 8,000 ft.
Maximum climb rate (15000 lbs.): 538 ft./min. @ SL, 348 ft./min. @ 4,000 ft.

Similar to Sikorsky’s H-34 Choctaw, the H-21 was subject to many early armament experiments by the US Military. The H-21 was one of a few types that fell victim to “Vanderpool’s fools”, a group in Fort Rucker commanded by Colonel Jay D. Vanderpool during the 1950s to investigate the possibility of turning helicopters into weapons platforms. The group tested a few configurations with the H-21, but none were more iconic than the fitting of a B-29 turret to the underside of the cockpit. While it would retain door guns during its brief service in Vietnam, the rest of the armaments would remain experimental.


1x AN/M2 .30 or M1919A6 Door Gun
2x AN/M2 .50, 2x AN/M2 .30, and 8 Oerlikon 8cm Anti-Tank rockets
2x AN/M2 .50 and 2x 12 4.5" rocket pods
4x M37 .30 in semi-trainable (vertical only) mount
4x M60C in semi-trainable (vertical only) mount
1x M37 .30 in fully-trainable mount
2x AN/M2 .50 in fully-trainable B-29 turret
2x AN/M2 .50, 2x AN/M2 .30, and 2x 7 FFAR rocket pods
2x 6 FFAR rocket packs
2x 1 4.5" rocket launchers
2x 4 4.5" rocket packs

Armament Images (In Order) (14)

Other Images (8)

In-game, the H-21 would be a great trainer for the new helicopter pilot. It has decent offensive ordnance and a variety of gun placements that allows the player to choose between strafing and true gunshipping. The lack of armor will also teach the player about survivability when it comes to vehicles of this nature.


Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1953–54
AN 01-250HDA-1 - YH-21 Preliminary Flight Handbook - 19530323
T.O. 1H-21B-1 - H-21B & H-21C Flight Handbook - 19560301
TM 1-1H-21B-1 - H-21B & H-21C Flight Handbook - 19571126
T.O. 1H-21(Y)-4 - YH-21, H-21A, H-21B, & H-21C Illustrated Parts Breakdown - 19570415
EO 05-80A-1 - H-21A & H-21B Pilot’s Operating Instructions - 19570401
Flying Banana Gunner
Cobra! The Attack Helicopter - Mike Verier (2013)
Army Aviation Digest - June 1971
Army Aviation Digest - August 1971
Army Aviation Digest - October 1971
Army Aviation Digest - November 1971

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I’ve been waiting for this for so long! Looks so goofy!!!

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I have seen this in real life never knew it had a gun variant so I say yes

Added some more armaments and images with sources to boot. Also corrected one of the original armaments: They didn’t use HVARs, but instead Oerlikon 8cm rockets.

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The “shithook” TT line. lol.

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YES! the shithook tt line.

This helicopter looks amazing and would be a great bird for 7.3 - 7.7 BR, depending on which loadouts will be implemented in WT and how effective they would be in-game.