Sikorsky R-4B 'Hoverfly'


  Base model:R-4
  Designation System:U.S. Air Force
  Designation Period:1941-1947
  Basic role:Rotary Wing (Helicopter)
  See Also:

  Length: 33' 7" 10.2 m
  Height:12' 5" 3.7 m
  Wingspan: 38' 11.5 m
  Gross Weight: 2,579 lb 1,170 kg
  Max Weight: 2,581 lb 1,170 kg

  No. of Engines: 1
  Powerplant: Warner R-550
  Horsepower (each): 200

  Range: 130 miles 209 km
  Cruise Speed: 65 mph 104 km/h 56 kt
  Max Speed: 75 mph 120 km/h 64 kt
  Ceiling: 8,000 ft 2,438 m

Known serial numbers
43-46500 / 43-46599

Examples of this type may be found at
New England Air MuseumWindsor LocksConnecticut
United States Air Force MuseumWright-PattersonOhio
United States Army Aviation MuseumOzarkAlabama

R-4B on display

United States Army Aviation Museum


Recent comments by our visitors
 Ed Ciccolella
 Tupper Lake, NY
Shortly before the end of WW2 I was a chopper pilot with the 6th ARU. 13th Air Force, stationed at Clark Field in Luzon. I had gone through helicopter schoolat Chanute Field Ill. Lt Carle was in the same class, and we were shipped overseas together. I flew a series of rescue flights into the mountains east of Clark Field and was able to extract 14 wounded infantrymen a get them to Nichols Field, Manila and thence to hospital care, for which I received the Air Medal. To make up for the fact that the R-4B was totaly unarmed, I used to carry several hand grenades which I could arm and drop on Jap positions during landing and take- offs when enemy groung fire could be sighted. I lost one chopper when a Jap knee mortar blew the top off a bantan tree which landed on the fuselage about a foot behind my head!
03/29/2008 @ 04:06 [ref: 20278]
 William Garbo Sr.
 Ridgeland, MS
I was a sargeant in G-Troop the 112th Cavalry, RCT. My machinegun position was under attact and I was wounded by artillery during the night of June 27, 1945; we were in the Santa Maria Mountains East of Manila, Luzon,P.I. Lt. James Brown flew in with his Sicorsky R-4B and landed on our mountain side picked me up and flew me out to a tent hospital at Antipolo, Luzon. We were underfire as we flew off the mountain side.I am a landscape architect and live in Ridgeland, Mississippi today.
William Garbo Sr.
300 Semoia Lane
Ridgeland, MS 39157

03/03/2008 @ 04:21 [ref: 19843]
 Harold Clark
 Olympia, WA
Hello there. I am 74 years old now and looking back to what I remember as highlights in my professional and private flying years. I quit counting hours after I retired from a State of Washington job as Manager of the aviation unit for the Department of Natural Resources.

Any way, I ran across your site on the internet and was very pleased to see something on the Sikorsky R 4B helicopter. I owned, maintained, and operated an R4 during the mid sixties. I don't remember the military id for the airplane, but it was registered with the FAA as N4605V. I just found out today that it is now owned by the American AirPower Aviation Museum in Texas. Their curator contacted me and said they are planning on highlighting it in their "R-4 Rescue Mission" exhibit. I would like to write a bit about it if there is an audience. The problems with getting it flyable and currently, at that time, licensed, along with a few flight episodes remind me of great times. I would include as much as I can remember from the time I started looking for one until I finally sold it to a Canadian friend who used it for limited flight instruction in Seattle, Washington. At any rate, I am pleased to have found your site and hope all is well with the R4 exhibit. "OH! to be flying one again.
Harold Clark

12/15/2004 @ 22:39 [ref: 8878]
 Steve Summers
 , OK
Did you know that R-B4's were used in Medical E-vac during WW II?

The following came to me in an e-mail from Mr. Fred Duncan (who was aboard a ships that used these helpicoters in ferrying aircraft parts , etc. to and from the islands in the Pacific War)937 236-5229 and or duncanfm@email.msn.com

FROM: Robert W. Cowgill
3790 Eaglemount Road
Port Townsend WA 98368-9741
Tel: 360 732-4875

TO: Whom It May Concern

SUBJECT: Eyewitness Testimony in Support of Air Medal for Second Lieutenant Louis A. Carle, SSN 573-36-6443, ASN 0780514, United States Army Air Force, 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron

1. I have been asked by Mr. Fred M. Duncan, 6630 Greenlee Ct, Huber Heights OH 45424-2735, Tel: 937 236-5229, historian for my WWII organization, to make a testimonial on behalf of, now deceased, then, Second Lieutenant Louis A. Carle, SSN 573-36-6443, ASN 0780514, United States Army Air Force, 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron, for consideration of award of the Air Medal for his accomplishment in rescuing 17 wounded soldiers from front line combat areas during 16 June through 21 June 1945 in the vicinity of Antipolo, Rizal Province, Luzon Philippines Islands. Lieutenant Carle performed these rescues by airlifting each wounded soldier, one at a time, piloting a Sikorsky R-4B helicopter, and then flying each to rear area hospitals near Manila.

2. I am a former United States Army Air Force First Lieutenant, 0-817894, 5th ARUF, APO 346, Far East Air Forces, at the time of this event. My testimony is as an eyewitness, participant in the rescues, and immediate supervisor of, then, Second Lieutenant Louis A. Carle, SSN 573-36-6443, ASN 0780514, United States Army Air Force, 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron (ERS). However, he was only assigned to the 5th Aircraft Repair Unit Floating (ARUF) on temporary duty from the 2nd ERS from about May to August 1945, under my supervision. My knowledge of his rescues is based on personal conversations, discussions, debriefings and official reports submitted by Lieutenant Carle and myself.

3. My first knowledge of an Air Medal being awarded to any pilots from our organization for any helicopter rescues performed by two pilots was in January 2000. This was when Mr. Duncan called and informed me that he had located official declassified historical records that described the rescues and the awarding of the Air Medal to two pilots, First Lieutenant JAMES H. BROWN and Second Lieutenant JOHN R. NOLL of the 6th ARUF, for like accomplishments under identical circumstances of the rescues Lieutenant Carle and I had performed.

4. Our organization consisted of a United States Army Air Force Floating Aircraft Repair and Maintenance Units; which were a fleet of 24 ships (6 modified Liberty ships and 18 smaller auxiliary ships) assigned to the Western Pacific area during WWII in 1944 and 1945. The purpose of this fleet was to advance to front battle-line airfields of capture enemy islands of Guam, Saipan, Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. Our ships provided off-shore and on-shore immediate emergency maintenance for B-29 bombers, P-51 and other fighter aircraft. Two Sikorsky R-4B helicopters were assigned to each Liberty ship for logistic purposes to ferry critical aircraft repair parts from the airfields to these ships for immediate maintenance, repair, and replacement then return and install them in the aircraft to meet their mission assignments. Two of these Liberty ships, five helicopter pilots and their helicopters were involved in the historic rescue of 70 wounded soldiers during a 14-day period from 16 June to 29 June 1945. Lieutenant Carle was the first pilot on the scene and rescued 17 of the 70 wounded.

5. On or about 10 June 1945, as supervisor of the Flight Section aboard the 5th Aircraft Repair Unit Floating (ARUF), I placed Second Lieutenant Carle in charge of the Flight Section during my absence. Second Lieutenant Harold Green and I traveled to Tacloban, Leyte in the Philippines to pick-up and fly a Sikorsky R-6A helicopter replacement back to our ship anchored in Manila bay, Philippines. The evening of 15 June 1945, Lieutenant Carle received a message from the Fifth Air Service Command (VASC) Headquarters in Manila requesting support of the 5th ARU helicopters for rescues of wounded troops in the mountains east of Manila. The morning of 16 June 1945 Lieutenant Carle received a follow-up message confirming the request for use of the ship’s helicopters for medical evacuations. He acknowledged he could support this request, and quickly responded by flying a Sikorsky R-4B helicopter from the ship to our on-shore headquarters for further instructions.

6. There were no other helicopters pilots available from our ship and the other ship, the 6th ARUF was not in the area at this time; he was the only pilot available. Lieutenant Carle, knowing of the imminent personal danger with the risk of life, willingly, without hesitation, voluntarily accepted this undertaking to fly his helicopter repeatedly into and out of front combat battle lines to locate and rescue wounded soldiers. After receiving maps and instructions on locations of the wounded, Lieutenant Carle quickly proceeded to these marked areas. He immediately flew to the forward battle line areas to lift-out the wounded. He searched the meandering riverbeds in the mountains looking for the wounded; he was constantly exposed to and came under enemy fire as he flew over the front battle lines. Each rescue was limited to taking only one wounded on board at a time because of the constraint of the lifting load capability of all of the underpowered helicopters. He made several rescues the first day. He later briefed me on details of the rescues on my return the evening of 16 June. The next morning on 17 June, both Second Lieutenant Harold Green, the other pilot from my three man crew, and I joined the helicopter rescues alternating the use of the other helicopter. Lieutenant Green rescued two casualties on 17 June. However, on 18 June he was reassigned to another organization and left the ship for this assignment.

7. Lieutenant Carle and I continued flying rescues daily. We returned to the ship each evening at darkness; it was unsafe to fly the helicopters during darkness. We would discuss our daily rescue operations, make our reports and briefings; and described our helicopter problems and techniques we used in making difficult landings and lift-offs. We briefed each other how we had to fly by dipping down and keeping low so the enemy machine gunners could not get a good aim to fire on our helicopters. We would tell each of the numbers of wounded we rescued that day so we would have an idea of how many were involved. We talked about the condition of the wounded, and how we loaded and unloaded them. We did not use litters in or on the R-4B helicopter, we would remove the left front seat, if needed, and lay the wounded down to make them comfortable. Early each morning we flew back to the staging area for search and location briefings. We had to watch for signals and waving from the troops on the ground. We then would fly out in different directions to separate areas to search, locate, and return casualties to the medical facilities. We repeat these procedures each day. We made at least 17 flights each to evacuate wounded soldiers of the 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team, 38th Division, to rear area hospitals.

8. We continued these flights until 21 June, when Lieutenant Carle and I, flying in different pick-up locations, encountered unwieldy maneuvering of our helicopters while attempting landings in exceptionally rough and jagged terrain. The environment consisted of trees, high vegetation and grasses, rocks, boulders, steep sided mountains and hills, and occasional strong wind gusts. We both, coincidentally and unavoidably, crashed our helicopters while attempting rescue pick-ups. Neither of us knew of the other’s accident until our return to the ship several days later.

9. An officer of the 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team (RCT) field unit assigned an armed infantry patrol to help Lieutenant Carle destroy his damaged R-4B helicopter. This was necessary to prevent it from getting into enemy hands for there were enemy units in the area. The patrol was tasked to escort and protect Lieutenant Carle on his trip out of the hills and jungles, and safely take him back to the staging area so he could return to his ship. During the two-day walk back to the staging area Lieutenant Carle’s escort had several combat encounters with enemy patrols. In one of the battles Lieutenant Carle was confronted by an armed enemy soldier and had to shoot him in self-defense. The next day the patrol had several encounters with enemy soldiers and killed nine during these clashes before that reached the rear area.

10. After my crash, I also, had a similar experience as Lieutenant Carle. I was told later that Lieutenant Carle had been hospitalized for a few days because of injuries received in his crash, and had scratched his leg, injured his head, and had a small splinter from a sapling lodged near his right eye. I had not been injured. I also, was escorted by another armed infantry patrol of the 112th Cavalry Regimental Combat Team, the unit that I was sent to pick-up wounded. They provided escort and protection for my return trip to the rear staging area. We also, had to fight our way out of the jungles during several encounters with enemy patrols. This patrol encountered and killed 14 of the attacking enemy during the four-day trip back to the staging area. I made my way back to the ship about four days later after the crash. Due to our helicopters crashes one, destroyed and the other damaged and out of commission, brought an end to our six-day helicopter rescue mission. However, my helicopter was repairable. I returned to the crash site with a helicopter mechanic, and Lieutenant Carle flew a battery out to the crash site to my helicopter. We repaired the helicopter and flew it back to the ship.

11. Our final personal accounts of our rescues, 16 June -21 June 1945: Lieutenant Louis A. Carle rescued 17; Lieutenant Green rescued two; and I rescued 17. This brought the total to 36 rescues for the 5th ARUF effort during this six-day period.

12. On 24 June 1945, our sister ship, the Brigadier General Alfred J. Lyon, 6th (ARUF), arrived from Subic Bay and they continued the rescue effort. Their helicopter pilots, First Lieutenant JAMES H. BROWN and Second Lieutenant JOHN R. NOLL continued the rescues until completion from 24 June to 29 June 1945. They jointly rescued a total of 34 casualties for the 6th ARUF. They were awarded the Air Medal for their efforts.

13. The two ship’s total for all rescues accomplished was 34 for the 6th ARUF; and 36 for the 5th ARUF; final combined grand total for both ARUFs during 16 June to 29 June 1945 was 70 wounded soldiers rescued.

14. Lieutenant Carle got my phone number from Mr. Duncan and called me in November 2000. This was the first time in about 56 years since we last talked. He said that Mr. Duncan had contacted him with the information about the Air Medals being awarded to Lieutenants Brown and Noll. He said he was not aware of any recognition being given to anyone for the rescues, and that no organization had given him anything. He said the very first time he knew of any recognition given was when Mr. Duncan called him on 19 November 2000 and told him of the ships history records he had discovered about the rescues. I then told Lieutenant Carle of the letter of recommendation that I received from our headquarters. I told him that Mr. Duncan was compiling data to help us in obtaining the Air Medals. He said he would check his personal files for anything he might have; photographs, correspondence, records. I told Lieutenant Carle that I would work with Mr. Duncan in furnishing any statement or documents to help.

I make the foregoing statements with full knowledge of the penalties involved for willfully making a false statement or claim. I affirm that my testimony is true to the best of my recollections.

3790 Eaglemount Road
Port Townsend WA 98368-9741
Tel: 360 732-4875

07/24/2001 @ 02:49 [ref: 2742]


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