The CH-3E is the USAF version of the Sikorsky S-61 amphibious transport helicopter developed for the U.S. Navy. The USAF initially operated six Navy HSS-2 (SH-3A) versions of the S-61 in 1962, eventually designating them CH-3A/Bs. They were so successful the USAF ordered 75, modified as CH-3Cs, featuring a new rear fuselage design with a ramp for vehicles and other cargo. The first CH-3C was flown on June 17, 1963. When 41 CH-3Cs were updated with more powerful engines in 1966, they were re-designated as CH-3Es. Forty-five more were newly manufactured. Later, 50 CH-3Es were modified for combat rescue missions with armor, defensive armament, self-sealing fuel tanks, a rescue hoist, and in-flight refueling capability. They were re-designated HH-3Es and used extensively in Vietnam under the nickname "Jolly Green Giant."
The CH-3E on Pictured here --known as Black Mariah-- is a veteran of the Southeast Asia war. In 1965 it was attached to the 20th Helicopter Squadron. Painted flat black (hence the nickname), it was used for highly classified special missions. (NMUSAF)
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