top of page

Bell Helicopters a Brief History


The company was established on July 10, 1935, as Bell Aircraft Corporation by Lawrence Dale Bell in Buffalo, New York, with a focus on designing and building fighter aircraft. Their initial aircraft included the XFM-1 Airacuda, a twin-engine fighter designed for bombing missions, and the P-39 Airacobra.

XFM-1 Airacuda
P-39 Airacobra

The P-59 Airacomet was the first American jet fighter, followed by the P-63 Kingcobra, which was the successor to the P-39. Additionally, the Bell X-1 was also produced by Bell.

P-59 Airacomet
P-63 Kingcobra

The X-1, piloted by Chuck Yeager, was the first manned aircraft to exceed the speed of sound in level flight and was the first of the X-planes, a series of American experimental rocket planes designated for testing of new technologies and often kept secret.

Bell X-1

In 1941, Bell hired Arthur M. Young, a talented inventor, to provide expertise in helicopter research and development. This move was aimed at establishing a broader economic base for the company, reducing its dependence on government contracts.

The Bell 30

The Bell 30 was their first full-size helicopter and first flight on December 29, 1942. Later the Bell 47 became the first helicopter in the world rated by a civil aviation authority, becoming a civilian and military success.

Textron purchased Bell Aerospace in 1960. Bell Aerospace was composed of three divisions of Bell Aircraft Corporation, including its helicopter division, which had become its only division still producing complete aircraft. The helicopter division was renamed Bell Helicopter Company and in a few years, with the success of the UH-1 Huey during the Vietnam War, it had established itself as the largest division of Textron. In January 1976, Textron changed the name of the company again to Bell Helicopter Textron.

Bell Helicopter has a close association with AgustaWestland. The partnership dates back to separate manufacturing and technology agreements with Agusta and as a sublicense via Agusta with Westland. When the two European firms merged, the partnerships were retained, with the exception of the AB139, which is now known as the AW139. As of 2014, Bell and AW cooperate on the AW609 tiltrotor.

AW609 Tiltrotor

Bell Helicopters have become legendary in both the commercial and military spheres, mention the Korean War and images of the “MASH” Bell 47 (H-13 Sioux) immediately come to mind, as do images of the Bell UH-1 (Huey) when the Vietnam War is spoken of.

After the Bell 47 also known as the BellXH-13F a long list of military helicopters were designed and produced by Bell Helicopters Many of them were also produced as Civilian variants with different designators

The Bell R-12 (later redesignated H-12; company Model 48) was an American 1940s military utility helicopter

Bell XH-15
Bell HSL
Bell UH-1
YHO-4
Bell 207 Sioux Scout – experimental attack helicopter
Bell AH-1 Cobra
Bell AH-1 SeaCobra/SuperCobra
YAH-63/Model 409
Bell OH-58 Kiowa
Bell UH-1Y Venom
Bell AH-1Z Viper
Bell CH-146 Griffon
Bell ARH-70 Arapaho

Bell is also responsible for a large range of Civilian Helicopters

Bell 204/205
Bell 206
Bell 212
Bell 214
Bell 222
Bell 407
Bell 412
Bell 427
Bell 429 GlobalRanger
Bell 430
Bell 525 Relentless


Comments


Archive

bottom of page