“Is it a Piasecki, a Vertol, or a Boeing Vertol? Is it an H-21 or an H-44?




The USAF called both the H-21A and the H-21B the “Workhorse” due to its great lifting capability which would surpass all single-rotor helicopters for the next decade. The US Army version, the H-21C was called “Shawnee”. These were all “Piasecki”. But in 1955, Piasecki Helicopter Corporation was bought out and in March 1956 its name changed to Vertol. Now the USAF Piasecki H-21 A & B became Vertol Model 42, and the US Army Piasecki H-21C became Vertol Model 43.

In 1960, Vertol merged with Boeing Aircraft to become Boeing Vertol. Now the H-21B & C became Boeing Vertol Model 42A (H-21A was no longer built). Boeing Vertol Model 43 was a utility design for France and Germany. Boeing Vertol Model 44A was a military version built for the USAF, Canada, and other countries. The Boeing Vertol Model 44B was built for commercial use and one Boeing Vertol Model 44C was custom-built for Russia.

So, it depends when the helicopter was built, and by whom. The RCAF bought six Piasecki H-21A, nine Piasecki H-21B, three Vertol H-21B, and two Vertol H-44A (no Boeing Vertol Models). BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE! In 1965 the RCAF converted the Vertol H-21Bs in service, and the two Vertol H-44As to Boeing Vertol Model H-44Bs.

Now you know why the helicopter was nicknamed the “Flying Banana”…nobody knew what to call it! In actual fact, this nickname was in reference to its elongated and curved shape. It was also known as “Piasecki’s Puzzle” due to the engineering he developed to turn two rotor blades, at some distance apart, with one engine.”

Special thanks to one of our volunteers, Dan who wrote this for us.  This is the first of a new series of posts focussing on aircraft ~ this particular one can be found in our Museum’s Heritage Air Park.  Come in and have a closer look!