Did you know that helicopter squadrons were first designated VH plus a mission letter O, N, R (for observation, training or transport) in the early days of rotary flight. On 13 May 1944, helicopter squadrons received the H designation minus the V.
Originally navy aircraft squadrons were designated with either a Z (Zeppelin) for balloons/airships or a V for fixed wing, aircraft squadrons. The V came from the French word vol which means flight. After the Wright Brothers, the French were instrumental in early aviation development and lots of aviation terms have their origins in French, ex. aileron, empennage, fuselage,nacelle. Since helicopters had a rotary wing, the new designation H would more appropriately describe their flight characteristics.
Today our Navy helicopter squadrons are designated HS (Helicopter Antisubmarine), HSL (Helicopter Antisubmarine Light), HM (Helicopter Mine Countermeasures), HSC (Helicopter Sea Combat), HSM (Helicopter Maritime Strike) and HT (Helicopter Training). Marine helicopter squadron designations are HMH (Marine Heavy Helicopter), HMM (Marine Medium Helicopter) and HMLA (Marine Light Attack Helicopter).
Here’s a YouTube video from the Navy Helicopter Association 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation 2011 Centennial Committee, enjoy…