Sikorsky HH-52A “Seaguard”
The Sikorsky HH-52A helicopter was developed from a Sikorsky commercial S-62 amphibious helicopter. The S–62 had features that were desired by the Coast Guard. It floated on an amphibious hull, it was turbine powered, had a large main cabin and it was built utilizing proven components..The automatic stabilization system used on the S-62 was a scaled version of the larger S-61 (SH-3). The rotor system came from the S-55 (HO4S), as did most of the drive system which had already proven to be reliable. The assembly was design limited to 730 shaft horsepower. Small jet engines suitable for helicopters were rare and not available at the time. Sikorsky solved the problem by using a 1230 SHP General Electric T-58-GE-8B engine and derating it. With the extra 500 HP worth of air capacity on the front end density altitude was not an operational problem.
A Coast Guard Evaluation Program confirmed the contractor claims for performance and suitability to fill the mission. A contract for the initial quantity of helicopters was signed on June 21, 1962. On January 9, 1963 the U.S. Coast Guard received the first of 99 Sikorsky S-62’s which were given the designation HH-52A and the name “Seaguard”, a name which never caught on amongst those who flew it. The last HH-52A helicopter was delivered on January 17, 1969.
This is the helicopter that truly made rotary-wing aviation the backbone of Coast Guard aviation. The HH-52A’s versatility and reliability were legendary—as was its ability to work with the cutters of the Coast Guard’s fleet including its icebreakers.
During 26 years of service the HH-52, with over 15,000 lives saved in its twenty-six years of service, has the honor of having rescued more persons than any other helicopter in the world. This little helicopter, a unique assemblage of proven parts, comfortably behind the cutting edge, performed astounding feats in thousands upon thousands of occasions. It became the international icon for rescue and proved the worth of the helicopter many times over. It had an enormous impact on Coast Guard aviation.