In late December 1946, the Army Air Force (“AAF”) acquired a single Bell Model 47A from the Bell Aircraft Company for operational evaluation by the Army Ground Forces. Designated the YR-13, the AAF soon ordered twenty-seven more while transferring ten to the Navy for evaluation as well. Each possessed a bubble canopy, covered tail booms, a cowled engine, and four-wheeled landing gear with bungee cord shock absorbers to cushion landings.
After about a year of testing and evaluation, in 1947 the Army placed an order for sixty-five aircraft which it designated the H-13B. Thus, the H-13B became the first production helicopter organic to Army Aviation. The first airframe for that production run came off the line in mid-July 1948 and was assigned serial number 1, tail number 48-796.
That aircraft is the one on display at the Museum. It took nearly two years and countless volunteer hours to restore this historic bird to its former glory.