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Piasecki CH-21C-VL Workhorse

History of the CH-21C-VL Workhorse

The CH-21C Workhorse, also known as the “Flying Banana,” was built as a H-21C Shawnee by Vertol Aircraft Corporation for service in the United States (US) Army. After being retired from military service, the aircraft was obtained by Aero Union Corporation of Chino, California. It was traded to the United States Air Force (USAF) Museum system in June 1987 and assigned to Hill Aerospace Museum for static display. It arrived at Hill Aerospace Museum in July 1987, when it was repainted to resemble a H-21B.

Vertol CH-21C-VL Workhorse

Serial Number: 56-2142

Crew: Three

Engines: One Wright R-1820-103 radial; 1,425 horsepower

Wingspan: 44 feet

Length: 52 feet 7 inches

Height: 15 feet 4 inches

Weight: 13,500 pounds (maximum); 11,500 pounds (USAF-set limit)

Speed: 90 mph (cruising); 132 mph (maximum)

Range: 450 miles

Service Ceiling: 19,200 feet

Armament: None

Cost: $406,000

The CH-21C-VL Workhorse at Hill Air Force Base

The aircraft was originally a H-21B manufactured by Piasecki Helicopter Corporation. It was delivered to the USAF in August 1957, then it was assigned to the 20th Helicopter Squadron of the Tactical Air Command at Sewart Air Force Base. While serving with the 20th, the aircraft was briefly deployed to Myrtle Beach Air Force Base and Cuba.

In January 1960, the aircraft was transferred to the 4510th Combat Training Wing (CTW) at Luke Air Force Base. The aircraft was then passed to the Ogden Air Material Area at Hill Air Force Base. In July 1962, it was handed over to the 2849th Air Base Wing at Hill Air Force Base. The aircraft was redesigned to a CH-21B in 1962 and was operated to support the Utah Testing and Training Range until it retired at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in April 1971. The CH-21B was dropped from the USAF inventory in November 1971.

During restoration of the CH-21B, the rotor blades were refurbished by members of the former 419th Combat Logistics Support Squadron (CLSS) from Hill Air Force Base and reattached in May 2006.

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