Boeing/Vertol CH-46F 'Sea Knight'

Notes: Upgraded CH-46D.
  Base model:H-46
  Nickname:Sea Knight
  Designation System:U.S. Air Force
  Designation Period:1948-Present
  Basic role:Helicopter
  Modified Mission:Transport
  See Also:

  Length: 83' 4" 25.4 m
  Height:16' 8.5" 5.0 m
  Wingspan: 51' 0" 15.5 m
  Wingarea: 4,085.6 sq ft 379.5 sq m
  Empty Weight: 13,067 lb 5,926 kg
  Max Weight: 23,000 lb 10,430 kg

  No. of Engines: 2
  Powerplant: General Electric T58-GE-10
  Horsepower (each): 1400

  Range: 236 miles 380 km
  Max Speed: 161 mph 259 km/h 140 kt
  Climb: 1,660 ft/min 505 m/min
  Ceiling: 14,000 ft 4,267 m

1968/07/24 The first CH-46F was accepted by the Marine Corps.
1971/02/01 The final production model of the CH-46F for the Marine Corps was accepted at the Vertol plant by Brig. Gen. Homer S. Hill.

Known serial numbers
154845 / 154862, 155301 / 155318, 155319 / 155336, 156418 / 156477, 157649 / 157726, 158334 / 158345


Recent comments by our visitors
 Paul Weitlauf
 , WA
Excellent info from Tom Pickett! I served in the Marines with the Phrogs from 1975-1979 and again from 1983-1986. My experience was with D, F & E models during my first tour and crewed the first west coast SR&M E model while I was with HMT-301 at MCAS Tustin. I loved them so much I even interviewed with Columbia Helicopters to work on their civil variants... but the wage offered wasn't very enticing, so I ended up taking work in the fixed wing community. My love is still with the Phrog though!

I'm absolutely NOT trying to take anything away from the wealth of info Tom gave, though I do have some comments. Hopefully they help more than muddy things up.
To answer Tom's comments on BuNo block 158334 thru 158345, those were contracted to be built, but the contract was cancelled. Same thing with F model BuNo block 155319 - 155336.
Regarding the B model, the information I've seen is the CH-46B was the designation used for the 12 XH-49A's ordered by the US Air Force and assigned USAF serials 62-12473/12484 but cancelled when the USAF decided to go with the CH-3C instead.
Regarding the C model, this is what I've read: There were three original Vertol YHC-1A prototypes built for the US Army, serials 58-5514, 58-5515 & 58-5516. (Ten were ordered, but the last seven were cancelled before construction began, in favor of the larger BV-114/YHC-1B/CH-47A Chinook.) The Army transferred 58-5514 to NASA in 1962 and they reserialized it as NASA533 and it was redesignated as YCH-46C. NASA withdrew it from use ~1975 and it's current fate is listed as unknown. As for the other two sister ships, 515 was used as a tow aircraft at NASA Dryden in 1962-1963 then returned to Vertol who loaned it to MIT for a time and was later sold to McAllister Engineering Enterprises. The history of 516 is less clear, but it ended up in the hands of McAllister as well. Both aircraft were planned to be converted into fire fighters, but the cost and work required to make them airworthy again was deemed to be prohibitive. Both are presumed to still be in storage in a hanger at SEATAC airport.
Tom also says, "HMM-162 was also 18 of them, becoming the first non-fulltime composite squadron at the time as well." If he means they were the first non-fulltime composite squadron with E models, that would be correct. If he means they were the first squadron of 18 H-46's, that would be wrong. All the west coast squadrons at that time were non-composite 18-ship squadrons.
Tom also states the "CH-46s are the oldest airframes anywhere in the US Military." While they are among the oldest, there are older airframes still in service, such as a few Navy/Marine C-130F aircraft with BuNo's in the 148XXX and 149XXX series that haven't been written off yet.
11/18/2011 @ 13:31 [ref: 50335]
 SSgt. Gerald Morgan Jr.
 Ararat, VA
I served with HMM-164 from 1974 to 1976 on the CH-46D as a crew chief. It was one of the best helos I ever flew on. At the time we had GE-08 engines on the D and -10 on the F models. The F model was the only one I had to do an actual autorotation in. I was an 18 year old kid in Vietnam at the time and that will sure give you gray hairs quite.
To Bigern, MS., in the previous note, I would like to get in touch, to talk about old times, please give me a call or e-mail at; gerald_morgan56@yahoo.com, phone; (276) 251-1053 and ask for SMSgt. Gerald Morgan. I switch to the Air Force in 1984. Thank you
12/31/2010 @ 18:33 [ref: 35118]
 Ron Matthews
 Caldwell, ID
I agree with Tom Pickett above. The CH-46's have never had the glory they deserve. Also, HMM-162 did some outstanding things while I was there and no historical footnotes seem to exist anywhere. I was there from early 1968 to Aug 1971. Although primarily avionics, I crossed to crew chief when the avionics got boring. It was an uphill battle to get to that position and I only was allowed to crew one flight; starting out working with metal shop and lots of time on hydraulic samples. Between RON's all over the East Coast and cruises to the Carib, the only time we took any flak was when flying over New Jersey. We stopped by Grenada to evacuate Medical Students, but most of them just sat on the beach with their drinks and watched us. No movie for that action, even though we were fired on once, hitting my radio. In 1969 a passenger airplane was flying overhead in the "Triangle" and totally disappeared. I was on the flightdeck when that happened. It flew into a cloud and did not fly out. Neat stuff. At Gitmo we flew the night patrols along the fence line and due to a TACAN error, drifted over the Cactus line and Cuba scrambled two attack aircraft. Older high school history books include a paragraph about that, but no reference still exists. OK, so it was my TACANS, but my test equipment got its MRB, reference data from the ship, and the ships data was wrong. Sure was a lot of brass in my little shop that day.
02/06/2010 @ 19:43 [ref: 25691]
 , MS
I crewed a Marine CH-46 with HMM-164 (Knightriders) from 94'-98', for the squadron's 2 final Westpacs, prior to becoming the 46 training squadron now known as HMMT-164. Buno #155316 was my bird for the last deployment. As stated on the plate in the "corridor" leading up to the cockpit, (underneath the forward tranny drip pan), the aircraft had started out as an "F".
03/11/2008 @ 11:58 [ref: 19957]
 Tom Pickett
 Cleveland Heights, OH
I was a CH-46 Mechanic and Crewchief for many years back in the 70s and into the 80s. I began my association with my beloved Phrogs as a Marine Corps PFC and was moved entirely away from them when I was a GYSGT. I still miss them all these years later. It has always been my biggest pet peeve as the lack of identify that the CH-46 had/has. The Marines and Navy had more of them than the Army had the CH-47, yet too many people in my experience thought they were the same thing or didnt know the CH-46 existed. The CH-46 was also built in bigger numbers than the CH-53 had been world wide to that point too, yet everybody again seemed to know them and not the CH-46. But some of these people that flew them (more recently) and don't know their history bug me too. The CH-46 was a reliable aircraft that would do whatever you asked of it, and shed bring you home. Shed never hurt you without giving you plenty of warning first. I had nearly 2,000 hrs as a Crewchief on CH-46A/D/E/F airframes. These BUNOs 158334 thru 158345 listed on this website, never existed as CH-46s. I dont know if they were assigned to the CH-46 and never built, or if they belonged to something else, but 157726 is absolutely the last CH-46 ever built. BUNO 157726 was built as an F model for those of you who say there are no F models, she was the last F and the last CH-46 built for the Marines and Navy period. Well there isnt an F model now but there used to be. The CH-46 was built in three distinct version of the A model alone. The early As had an enlarged escape hatch/gun window on the port side by the radio closet. They even had a non-skid step lip to it at the bottom, there was no mistaking the airframe as an early A. If youd ever seen one, youd have known it, even after the original E model conversions. The early and mid production As shared a deeper curve into the tail above the APP exhaust by the HF radio antenna. The mid As went to the escape hatch/gun window seen on every A/D and F since. Mid A also still shared a hell hole/cargo hook outer hatch with the early As that required the use of the internal rescue hoist/winch to remove it in flight. It didnt slide out of the way like we came to see on the latter As all the Ds and all the Fs. The late As also beefed up the STA 410 section, so when you went to hover aft, the tail pylon didnt fracture or separate, as they had done in Vietnam during high speed approaches to hard stops selecting hover aft at too high a speed. The early and mid As did get a mod here, but it looked visibly different to the late As. The early As came with 800-shp T58-GE-8B engines. The late As introduced the 850-shp 8F engine. The Marines and Navy both received A and D models. There was no B or C model. The proposed B became the Super A (late A), and the YCH-49 (yes 49 not 46) was redesignated as the C model, which lead to the Production D. The D model airframes were all identical from beginning to end, as were the F models. The Ds were essentially just a late A model with the 1050-shp 10 engine, and they moved the hydraulic lines and flight control cables from inside the cabin, to a position up along side the synchronization drive shaft. The As originally had a narrow tunnel along the top of the cabin, that only had the sync shaft in there and nothing else. During UH and CH to HH-46A conversions those were all brought up to the D/F tunnel arrangement. There was an antenna moved from the belly to the top of the tunnel as well. There were minor differences in the electrical system between the A and D, like the D introduced the inertia switch that tripped the cabin lights when you landed too hard. The only real difference between D models was the Navy UH-46D and Marine CH-46D. Those were differences in the floor board and cargo tie-downs internally. Plus all the Marine CH-46Ds came with engine and flight control closet armor, then had armor pilots seats added on top of the old cushioned seats later. Boeing Vertol proposed the E model, but the Corps balked and said it was too much, therefore along came the F model. The F was the D airframe and hydraulic system with and updated electrical system. Only the Marines received the F model. The F Models were the first to wear the glass-fiber rotor blades, a 1979-80 update. The As were reported to have originally come with wooden blades, although I never saw those. If you never flew on CAT II metal blades, you dont know what a real sweat is, having to shut-down every two hours to re-inspect them, worried they were comming apart with every strange pop of the blades or every odd shimmy. The glass blades were a huge leap over the Cat I metal blades, but those CAT IIs were a daily, even an hourly or moment to moment concern. Anyhow, in 1976 the Marines went back to BV and asked for the E model, but production had ceased by then, BV refused to restart the line, enter the E-model conversions. The first E model conversions began arriving in 1978, and HMM-162 was the first, and only squadron to have them by mid 1979. HMM-162 was also 18 of them, becoming the first non-fulltime composite squadron at the time as well. HMH-362 (CH-46F and CH-53D composite) was with MAG-26, and was the last squadron to deploy with the CH-46F, the last full time composite squadron, and also the first CH-46s to deploy the glass-fiber blades operationally. HMM-162s aircraft came as E models with metal blades and converted to glass, and all late E model finished converting to glass blades for any aircraft that had not done so before E model conversion. Every E model out there today began life as an A/D or F model. There was no production of the originally proposed E model. All the Fs were converted to Es, then most of the Marines Ds, before the As were added to the conversion process. All Marine Corps production Ds did end up becoming E models. The E conversions did standardize the now again a 2nd beefed up STA 410 section. STA 410 is were the aft cabin section couples with the aft pylon for those of you who dont remember that one. But still flying them or maintaining them they were FEs, DEs and AEs, because they were different. The SR&M program in the mid and later 80s was supposed to do more to standardize them into a more common E model, and get us away from the AE/DE and FE terminology. I never had the pleasure of flying a CH-46E that had completed the SR&M program. My last days as a routinely flying Crewchief were at MCAS Beaufort on HH-46A doing SAR duty, before heading back to PI for you know what. After that I only saw unconverted to the SR&M standard. By the way, none of the H-46 series came with the external rescue hoist. That was a Navy add-on in the late 70s to the UH-46As the Navy converted to HH-46A for SAR duty, the Marines followed suit on SAR aircraft, and then used it to add as part of the E model conversion to every third bird converted. Eventually all the HH-46A models got uprated 1050 shp 10 engines, making them essentially a D model, but they kept the A designation for some years afterwards. They are all called HH-46D models now. Every BUNO 150XXX and 151XXX was an A model, I am not sure about 152XXX. I never saw a 152XXX D model in the Marines, nor did I ever see a 153XXX A model, but somewhere in there was the move from the A to D model. All airframes built as Marine Corps Ds are long since converted to E models. Any Marines Corps D model out there today, are A to D conversions, and they are only HH-46D's in Marine service. The Navy does still have origianl D models, and now had A to D conversions as well. All 155XXX, 156XXX and 157XXX were originally F models. I know F model began late in the 154XXX numbers, like 1548XX, but I dont remember where D models ended. I am pretty sure there are early 154XXX D models out there. There were also 156500 or 157500s in the F models which are also not listed on this website as F models. I had a MAG-26 group pilot (non Squadron rent-a-pilot) fly me into the ground one day on 15X555, without digging through boxes in the attic I cant say it was 156555 or 157555. So all the As have been modified greatly from their original configuration, and have ended up as HH-46Ds or CH-46Es. Every surviving D/F in the Marines have been converted to E models, and had several modifications and upgrades since even that. The CH-46 was a great aircraft that has proven its greatness time and time again. With all that they have been modified, upgraded and improved to give yet more years of service beyond what they were ever intended or designed to do. The B-52s and Army Hueys are old and tired, but still they are only later models of those series, built after most of the CH-46s that still serve. The CH-46s are the oldest airframes anywhere in the US Military. Yet another tribute to how indispensable, venerable, ubiquitous and reliable that they have been all these years. But, yes Virginia, the used to be an F model, and they were good aircraft and the best of the Phrog's until the E model conversions arrived.

Tom Pickett
MSGT USMC retired
01/10/2008 @ 04:47 [ref: 19210]
 John Preedom
 , TX
I was on the flight deck of USNS Spica 22 Oct 87 when A/C 12 (Buno #152518 I think) control ditched into the North Arabian Sea. I was one of 2 Air Det personnel from H-5 Det 105 playing "hook up man", the other was AT3 Kevin Holley. It seemed like just another early morning "vert rep". We had already transferred over a few passengers to Ranger and had just vert repped a few loads to Ranger when A/C 12 coasted into a hover facing the starboard side of Spica. I wasn't really paying attention since it wasn't my turn to hook up the load to the helo. As AT3 Holley hand the pendant off to the aircrewman in the "hell hole" and runs out from underneath, I heard a very distinct sound that I remember to this day. An engine shutting down. I start to back up because I didn't know where the pilot was going go. Like I said, we had just started to vert rep and the Spica's flight deck is very small. We had pallets stacked 2 high from the very aft edge, all the way to the forward foul line. I figured if the pilot tried to land on the flight deck, it was going to get really nasty and I was going to jump over the side to save myself. As I start backing up, the pilot noses the helo over the starbord side. It clears the loads on the flight deck and continually loses altitude until it lands in the ocean. As the pilot tries to restart the malfunctioning engine, the other is trying to lift out of the sea. after several attempts, they "burn up" the good engine and are forced to shut it down. All crew, except the pilot are already out of the helo before he shuts down the engine. After the rotors stop, it tips over, the pilot escapes, and A/C 12 slowly slips beneath the waves. All crew are rescued by our other helo, aircrat 02, buno # 150938. All were uninjured except 1 air crewman who suffered a bruised knee when the "hell hole" door came open as he was trying to secure it on initial imapct with the water. Very scary but with all concerned virtually unscathed, we said our prayers, thanked our lucky stars and finished the last 2 months of the cruise with 1 aircraft.
02/15/2007 @ 12:25 [ref: 15535]
 Doug Gordon
 Pensacola Beach, FL
Your referencing most of these airframes as the "F" (CH-46F) mod incorrectly; Ultimately all '46's in the fleet were "D"s in the Navy and "E"s in the USMC;
08/14/2006 @ 14:42 [ref: 13881]
 Roaring River, NC
I was the crew chief on 156477 Mfg date: 9/9/69 (AC #7) in HMM-264 back in the late 1980s. In my 6 years of flying with 3 squadrons in the Marine Corps it was absolutely the best plane I ever had. I had my pick of the planes before our upcoming cruise and I chose her. I chose her because I had tested all the planes in the squadron at one time or another and I thought she was mechanically the best plane on the line. That, and because she was also the worst looking plane on the flight line. I mean, there was no where left to to go but up in that department LOL. She might not have looked the part but she proved to be the most solid plane I had ever flown in. She always brought us home even through a microburst while we were feet wet with 19 souls on board. I miss her. Anyone know where she is now? Ive not seen any accident reports with her BuNo on em and I would like to go pay her a visit.
07/11/2006 @ 07:13 [ref: 13705]
 , NC
I was wondering if anyone had the history on the following Phrogs:
These are currently the 3 I fly on now with the Search and Rescue Squadron at Cherry Point. Come Oct we are trading one in for our first Echo model 46. I would like to gather some information on the Deltas we have now.
01/22/2006 @ 15:17 [ref: 12232]
 France, AK
I like helicopters
08/18/2005 @ 03:35 [ref: 11015]


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