- Aircraft History, Specification and Information -
Bell 47
Bell 47J Ranger Helicopter - PT-HAS - Helisul Taxi Aereo
Bell 47J-2A Ranger
PT-HAS (sn 3124)
Helisul Taxi Aereo
Photo taken March 07 1986
Iguassu Falls Heliport, Brazil
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Bell 47J2 Ranger - C-FAFK - Light Utility Four Seat Helicopter
1960 Bell 47J2 Ranger
C-FAFK (sn 1805)
A rare sight of this four seat light utility helicopter built by Bell Helicopter.
Photo taken June 08, 2008
Penticton Airport, BC Canada (YYF / CYYF)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Bell 47J2 Ranger Helicopter - C-FAFK - Cockpit View
1960 Bell 47J2 Ranger
C-FAFK (sn 1805)
Cockpit View
Photo taken June 08, 2008
Penticton Airport, BC Canada (YYF / CYYF)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Bell 47J2 Ranger Helicopter - C-FAFK - Instrument Panel
1960 Bell 47J2 Ranger
C-FAFK (sn 1805)
Instrument Panel
Photo taken June 08, 2008
Penticton Airport, BC Canada (YYF / CYYF)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler
Bell 47J2 Ranger Helicopter - C-FAFK - Front View - Large Bubble Canopy
1960 Bell 47J2 Ranger
C-FAFK (sn 1805)
Front view with large bubble canopy that provides a great view for the pilot and passengers.
Photo taken June 08, 2008
Penticton Airport, BC Canada (YYF / CYYF)
Photo © Marcel Siegenthaler

The Bell 47 is a two-bladed, single engine, light helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. Based on the third Model 30 prototype, Bell's first helicopter designed by Arthur M. Young, the Bell 47 became the first helicopter certified for civilian use on 8 March 1946. More than 5,600 Bell 47 aircraft were produced, including aircraft produced under license by Agusta in Italy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan, and Westland Aircraft in the United Kingdom. The Bell 47J Ranger is modified version with a fully enclosed cabin and fuselage.

Design and development

Early models were variable in appearance, with open cockpits or sheet metal cabins, fabric covered or open structures, some with four-wheel landing gear. Later model D and Korean War H-13D and E types settled to a more utilitarian style. The most common model, the 47G introduced in 1953, can be recognized by the full bubble canopy, exposed welded-tube tail boom, saddle fuel tanks, and skid landing gear.

The later three-seat 47H had an enclosed cabin with full cowling and monocoque tail boom. It was an effort to market a "luxury" version of the basic 47G. Relatively few were produced.

Engines were Franklin or Lycoming horizontally-opposed piston engines of 200 to 305 HP (150 to 230 kW). Seating varied from two (early 47s and the later G-5A) to four (the J and KH-4). As of 2005, many are still in use as trainers and in agriculture.

Bell 47s were produced in Japan by a Bell and Kawasaki venture; this led to the Kawasaki KH-4 variant, a four seat version of the Model 47 with a cabin similar to the Bell 47J. It differed from the "J" in having a standard uncovered tailboom and fuel tanks like the G series. They were sold throughout Asia, and some were used in Australia.

Operational history

The Bell 47 helicopter entered U.S. military service in late 1946, in a variety of versions and designations for three decades. In the Korean War, it was designated the H-13 Sioux by the United States Army. It has also served as the helicopter of choice for basic helicopter flight instruction in many countries.

NASA had a number of Bell 47s during the Apollo program, used by astronauts as a trainer for the Lunar Lander. Eugene Cernan had a near disastrous accident shortly before his flight to the moon on Apollo 17 by crashing one into the Indian River.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department in California used the Bell 47 as the department's very first aircraft in 1957.


  • 13 May 1949, a Bell 47 set an altitude record of 18,550 feet (5,650 m).
  • 21 September 1950, first helicopter to fly over the Alps.
  • 17 September 1952, Bell pilot Elton J. Smith set a world distance record of 1,217 mi (1,959 km), by flying nonstop from Hurst, Texas to Buffalo, New York.


  • Bell 47
    Pre-production version, powered by a 133-kW (178-hp) Franklin piston engine.
  • Bell 47A
    Improved version of the Bell 47, powered by a 117-kW (157-hp) Franklin O-335-1 piston engine.
  • Bell 47B
    Equivalent to the military YR-13/HTL-1, powered by the Franklin O-335-1 piston engine.
  • Bell 47B-3
    Agricultural/utility version with open crew positions.
  • Bell 47C
  • Bell 47D
    First to appear with a moulded 'goldfish bowl' canopy.
  • Bell 47D-1
    Introduced in 1949, it had an open tubework tailboom reminiscent of the Bell Model 30, ship number 3, and a three-seat configuration.
  • Bell 47E
    Powered by a 149-kW (200-hp) Franklin 6V4-200-C32 engine.
  • Bell 47F
  • Bell 47G
    Combines a 149 kW Franklin engine with the three-seat configuration of the 47D-1 and introduced the twin saddle-bag fuel tank configuration.
  • Bell 47G-2
    Powered by the Lycoming VO-435 engine. Produced under license by Westland Aircraft as the Westland Sioux, for the UK military.
  • Bell 47G-2A
    Powered by a 179 kW version of the VO-435.
  • Bell 47G-2A-1
    Wider cabin, improved rotor blades and increased fuel capacity.
  • Bell 47G-3
    Powered by a supercharged 168 kW Franklin 6VS-335-A.
  • Bell 47G-3B
    Powered by a turbocharged 209 kW Avco Lycoming TVO-435.
  • Bell 47G-4
    Three-seat helicopter powered by an Avco Lycoming VO-540 engine.
  • Bell 47G-5
    A three-seat, utility version. A two-seat agricultural version was later known as the Ag-5. The 47G-5 was the last model to be produced by Bell.
  • Bell 47H-1
    A three-seat version with an enclosed cabin and fuselage.
  • Bell 47J Ranger
    A four-seat version powered by an Avco Lycoming VO-435 engine.

Licenced versions

  • Agusta A.115
    1971 Italian prototype of a Bell 47J with an unclad, tubular tail boom, and powered by a Turboméca Astazou II turboshaft engine
  • Meridionali/Agusta EMA 124
    Italian prototype with redesigned forward fuselage. Not produced.
  • Kawasaki KH-4
    Japanese production version with redesigned, lengthened cabin, and redesigned control system


  • Carson Super C-4
  • El Tomcat Mk.II
    Bell 47G-2 modified extensively for agricultural spraying by Continental Copters Inc. First flew in April 1959. Followed by further improved versions.


Government operators

Italy - Carabinieri


  • The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, includes a Bell 47 and the Bell Model 30 predecessor.
  • The Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Alberta is restoring a 47G Model.
  • The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City has a Bell 47D-1 on permanent display.
  • Adventure Aviation in Tauranga, New Zealand uses a Bell 47G in a "M*A*S*H" paint scheme for tourist scenic flights.
  • Red Bull - FlyingBulls - Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria flies a Bell 47 G-3B-1 (SOLOY) Reg. D-HEBA.
  • The EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has multiple Bell 47 helicopters available to ride.
  • The College of the North Atlantic (Gander Campus) has a functioning Bell 47 used as a training aid for students taking the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering program.
  • The Canadian Aviation Museum, in Ottawa, Ontario, has a Bell 47 on display, as well as a removed cockpit section for visitors to sit in.

Specifications (Bell 47G-3B)

General characteristics
Crew: 1 or 2
Capacity: 1 passenger or 2 litters
Length: 31 ft 7 in (9.63 m)
Rotor diameter: 37 ft 2 in (11.32 m)
Height: 9 ft 3 in (2.83 m)
Disc area: 1,085 sq ft (100.8 m²)
Empty weight: 1,893 lb (858 kg)
Useful load: 1,057 lb (482 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 2,950 lb (1,340 kg)
Powerplant: 1× Lycoming TVO-435-F1A flat, six-cylinder, reciprocating engine, 280 hp (210 kW)

Maximum speed: 91 knots (105 mph, 169 km/h)
Cruise speed: 73 knots (84 mph, 135 km/h)
Range: 214 nmi (245 mi, 395 km)
Rate of climb: 860 ft/min (4.37 m/s)

Popular culture

The Bell 47 appeared, and played key roles, in film and television productions. It has been associated with both the M*A*S*H film and M*A*S*H television series, and the Whirlybirds TV series (1957–1959).The Sparrow and Seasparrow helicopters in the games Grand Theft Auto:Vice City,Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto:Vice City Stories were both based off the Bell 47.

Last updated May 30, 2010
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bell 47".
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