TH-55 “Osage” Helicopter s/n 64-18070

TH-55 Osage Helicopter

TH-55 “Osage” Helicopter

The Hughes TH-55 Osage was a piston-powered light training helicopter produced for the United States Army. In 1955, Hughes Tool Company’s Aircraft Division carried out a market survey which showed that there was a demand for a low-cost, lightweight two-seat helicopter. The division began building the Model 269 in September 1955. It was initially designed as a fully glazed cockpit with seating for two pilots, or a pilot and passenger, It also had an open-framework fuselage and a three-blade articulated rotor. The prototype flew on 2 October 1956, but it wasn’t until 1960 that the decision was made to develop the helicopter for production. The original truss-work tailboom was replaced with a tubular tailboom and the cockpit was restructured and refined prior to being put into production. The Hughes 269 was designed with a fully articulated, three-blade main rotor, and a two-blade tail rotor that would remain as distinctive characteristics of all its variants. It also has shock absorber-damped, skid-type landing gear. The flight controls are directly linked to the swash plate of the helicopter so there are no hydraulic systems in the 269.


Two (2): Instructor Pilot and Student Pilot

Missions and Loads

Training helicopter; over 60,000 U.S. Army pilots had trained on TH-55 making it the U.S. Army’s longest serving training helicopter.


Hughes Tool Company’s Aircraft Division
TH-55 “Osage”
Training Helicopter
First Year of Production
Production Total
1 × Lycoming HIO-360-B1A
Engine Rating
180 SHP (134 kw)
Main Rotor
3 Blade
Maximum Speed
78 knots (90 mph)
Cruise Speed
65 kts (75 mph)
203 nm (233 miles)
Service Ceiling
14,630 ft (4,460 m)
Rotor Diameter
25 ft (7.6 m)
Empty Weight
896 lb (406 kg)
Loaded Weight
1550 lb (703 kg)
28 ft 11 in (8.8 m)
7 ft 11 in (2.4 m)


While the U.S. Army hadn’t found the Model 269 adequate for combat missions, in 1964 it adopted the Model 269A as its training helicopter to replace the TH-23 and designated it the TH-55A Osage. 792 TH-55 helicopters would be delivered by 1969, and it would remain in service as the U.S. Army’s primary helicopter trainer until it was replaced in 1988 by the UH-1 Huey. At the time of its replacement, over 60,000 U.S. Army pilots had trained on TH-55 making it the U.S. Army’s longest serving training helicopter.

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