Vietnam era Bell UH-1 restoration project

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The most iconic helicopter ever made
Project finished
3
€ 180 van € 100.000
11/08/2018 - 06:00

Last weekend we had our second show: Wings and wheels at the Ursel airfield.
We were able to show the people how the huey looks with a pair of blades mounted but still do not have a correct hub. A home made piece was welded to safely show the lenght of everything but we still need funding to be able to complete the project. Also a bracket was made for the tail rotor blades. It looks cool, but we still need help! 

06/07/2018 - 23:09

Vietnam-era UH-1 restoration project
Restoring an iconic helicopter

Accepting donations starting from 1€ ;)
 

Where the story begins (May 2018):

Since our childhood we have been fascinated by helicopters and the Vietnam war. We had owned a helmet or two but never really thought of anything bigger, certainly not an original Bell helicopter...

Whilst browsing the net we found a huey fuselage in Germany. It was located in a workshop where computer gaming simulators were made. This fuselage was ment to be cut in to pieces. The cockpit would be the simulator platform, the rest would have been thrown away. Luckily we found it and were able to buy it just in time and, by doing so, saved it from destruction. We now owned our very own helicopter! The old and dirty fuselage was in a terrible state. It was missing all of its internals, had no seats or panels and had holes everywhere. Our plan was to restore an entire Huey helicopter so a tailboom and some loose parts were also purchased.

Let's move out! (april 2018)

An 'expedition' was planned and put together. 2 teams (1 Belgian and 1 Dutch)  would depart their hometown and take a big cart with them. The Dutch team would transport the fuselage, the Belgian team took the tailboom. Our destination was near a small airfield near Cologne. The drive home (to West-Flanders, Belgium) would take about 4-5 hours. Traffic was a nightmare but seeing the people's faces cheer up as we passed by made up for it.


And so the restoration begins... (april-may 2018)

What was first a wreck was slowly starting to turn into something really beautiful. A list was made up of all the missing parts (and there were a lot of them!) and the primary stages of our work began. Sanding down old paint, stripping off, taking apart pretty much everything, looking for new seats and doors, patching up holes and fixing/replacing what was broken. The task seemed huge, but we took it one small step at a time.



The tailboom

On a rainy day, we decided to attach the tail to the body. It was really impressive to see how large this thing had become.
With the use of lifting equipment we were able to lift and lock everything in place. We were soaking wet but really happy.

It's actually starting to look like a helicopter! (june 2018)

Once all parts we had (and could afford on our small budget) were fitted and tested, it was time to paint this beast. On a sunny day our team got together and started work. Some of us started preparing the paint, others covered up the windows and taped off what wasn't supposed to be painted. Some quick last minor changes and fixes were done and we were ready to paint. We chose the standard US olive green paint used in the vietnam war, to get as close as possible to the 'real' thing. Because of our good teamwork and rapid progress we painted it all in one long day. The huey looks beautiful!

When everything was dry we painted the inside. We chose the original light grey colors to paint the floor, walls and ceiling.
The contrast between the olive drab and light grey was amazing.

Detailing the paintjob (june 2018)

Now that all the external paint was put on, it was time to start finishing the inside. Yellow caution lines were needed on the doors and handles, the cargo bay doors were redone en the central control panels were painted as needed. The rooftop got its anti-slip paint and the nose was painted in black, as were a lot of huey's in Vietnam. The main rotor blades got their first layer of paint too. On both sides the US army letters were painted on and several other details got finished. We decided not to fix the dents and tears that were present in the fuselage. This thing had flown in a warzone and wears the scars with pride!

All the good reasons

We chose to make a Medevac aircraft out of it. A red cross was painted on it, no gun mounts will be present. Inside there will be room for several stretchers. We wanted to promote peace, honor the fallen and wounded and thank the men who flew these wonderful machine.

What makes this huey so cool?

Our helicopter was produced in 1967. The serial number gave it's production year away, as did the many parts marked with 1966-1967. That puts it right in the middle of the Vietnam war. It was produced and first painted in the US, then put to use. We are not completly sure it has served in Vietnam, but the presence of a bullethole in the fuselage really points us in that direction. Several parts were replaced in 1974. in 1974 The US withdrew many Huey from south-east Asia to be repaired and sold off to foreign armies. We know for a fact several hundreds of helicopters passed and got repaired on a Belgian Airfield (Ursel) in 1974. Again our dates and markings point in the direction of a vietnam-used helicopter. It is documented that the German army bought 80 of these repaired vietnam huey's and ordered an other 300 or so from the Bell factory. these last 300 aircraft were put together in the Dornier facility and wear dornier markings. Ours has only 1 post-war dornier stamped addition.

To be honest, there aren't that many hueys left, certainly not in Europe. This aircraft deserves to get the complete restoration it deserves.
Our funds are pretty much depleted. we are still missing some very important pieces like a main rotor assembly, a tail rotor, some fuselage panels, a transmission, a lot of the seats and internals. A helicopter without a rotor isn't really a helicopter.
We have done our very best up until now. It has been a real adventure, help us keep the story going!

Once finished it will accompany a very nice group of Belgian vietnam re-enactors on shows and events. This way we will be able to show people how it was back then and how these machines worked and operated.

What are we going to do with your money?

First of all: We are in need of several very expensive parts.
1) A main rotor hub (the part that keeps both blades together) is one of the most important pieces we need. Buying it is one thing, we also need to get it shipped and cleared trough Belgian customs. the assebly includes swashplates, rods and balancers, totalling up to nearly 20.000€.
2) A tailrotor is the second most important part, for obvious reasons.
3) We are looking to close the fuselage, as can be seen on the pictures, some side panels are still missing, also the tailboompanels are gone.
4) New seat need to be installed, at the moment we have seats but they are broken, post-war and non-American.
5) A ton of small items need to be purchased, antenna's, lights, batteries, smaller panels, instrument, structural items, an original fire extinguisher, original seats and equipment for the inside...
6) To get to events we would like to build our own means of transportation, if possible, a large cart able to transport the huey safely and as a single piece. We would now have to rely on special trucks with special licenses to get where we need to be. These are really expesive.

Please help us raise the money to be able to finish this wonderful aircraft!

 

 

 

Donations

€ 15
07/07/2018
Kristof Blieck
No comments.
€ 150
07/07/2018
Jean-Paul De Cooman
bonne chance
€ 15
08/07/2018
Anonymous
Geen commentaar achtergelaten.

Rewards

€ 150
Goodiebag
Receive a goodiebag filled with huey related items!
€ 300
an actual huey part!
Receive an actual Huey part and a goodiebag!
€ 750
Limit! 10 available
Free 60 minute flight in Huey simulator750
Free simulator flight in genuine UH cockpit
€ 1.200
Limit! 3 available
Free helicopter flight
Free flight in real helicopter
Do you wish to receive an invoice or certificate? Contact us by filipdecooman86@hotmail.com
Donations
€ 15
Kristof Blieck
No comments.
€ 150
Jean-Paul De Cooman
bonne chance
€ 15
Anonymous
Geen commentaar achtergelaten.
Rewards
€ 150
Goodiebag
Receive a goodiebag filled with huey related items!
€ 300
an actual huey part!
Receive an actual Huey part and a goodiebag!
€ 750
Free 60 minute flight in Huey simulator750
Free simulator flight in genuine UH cockpit
€ 1.200
Free helicopter flight
Free flight in real helicopter