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BK 117 helicopters are the product of the joint production of Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB) and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. MBB Germany was part of Eurocopter.
Each company divided the cost for developing the new helicopter with the final assembly taking place in Germany. Various parts of the helicopter were produced at each company. Among the parts produced by MBB were the rotor head, rotors, and tail section. Kawasaki produced, among other parts, the transmission, main fuselage, and fuel system.
The BK 117 was heavily based on its military predecessor, but the military version did not sell. However, its civilian version has had a few military buyers. The helicopter became very popular for medical transport, search and rescue work.
The 1985 Paris Air Show featured a military version of the BK 117 produced as an attack and anti-tank helicopter. Eventually the military of some twenty countries purchased the civilian version of the BK 117, and none use it in an attack role.
The BK 117 is most popular with hospitals, police and fire departments around the world. It has found other uses as a civil and military transport helicopter, plus the lifting of light to medium loads where larger helicopters would be difficult to maneuver.
The cabin of the BK 117 typically can accommodate nine passengers as an air taxi. Six can be seated comfortably when the helicopter is used as a VIP transport.
The rotor head of the BK 117 is made from titanium and is similar to the one used by its military predecessor. The rotor blades are made from a glass-fiber composite with a hardened stainless steel leading edge. Although similar in shape, the blades are about four feet longer than those of its military predecessor. For storage in tight spaces, two of the rotor blades can be folded.
Although normally equipped with skids, wheels, skies, or pontoons can be fitted to the BK 117.
A total of 443 BK 117 helicopters were produced before production ended in 2004.
BK 117 detail by Vario Helicopters.
Vario Helicopters produces a pair of 20 piece fuselage kits of the BK 117. They are for G23 type gas engines, and for Sky Fox mechanics. They are 60" long, 10" wide, 20" high, use 63" rotors, and weigh about 20 lbs. each.
There is a BK 117 kit by Vario Helicopters for turbine power. It is made from 27 pieces, is 77 1/2" long, 15" wide, 23 1/2" high, needs a 83" rotor, and weighs around 36 lbs.
Darth's Heli Bodies has a BK 117 fuselage kit in a 450 size.
High Torque has a BK 117 600 size fuselage kit for T-Rex 600 and similar mechanics.