One of the first helicopter water buckets was developed in Vietnam

In February 1968, then 33-year old Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Carr—who served in the 213th Assault support helicopter company in Phu Loi (about 15 miles north of Saigon, Vietnam)—was approached by a Fire Brigade Commander to provide helicopter wildfire support in nearby Cho Lon.

Thinking on their feet, Glenn said his unit confiscated a grain bin that was 8′ diameter by 12′ tall and carried 800-900 gallons of water. The bin was then rigged with a valve using helicopter hydraulics, where they slung it down the Saigon River and made several successful water drops to help extinguish the fires. On a side note, Glenn did not fly the mission but helped build the bucket.

Glenn Carr helicopter water bucket
L to R) Wingbar Aviation trainer JP Johnston, who is also a Vietnam Veteran, with Glenn Carr at Bambi Bucket’s SEI Industries booth, HAI Heli-Expo, March 2019, Atlanta. SEI photo.

The Commander said the bin worked well but washed the neighbouring huts away. So, when Glenn called on an engineer who built their quarters, he suggested a 16″ square air condition grill they welded and fused on all the sides. The result was a water diffuser that allowed the bucket to effectively extinguished new fires without washing away the huts.

Today, retired 84-year old Glenn is aware that Bambi Bucket began its successful commercial production in the early 1980s, but he’s wondering if his team’s effort could have produced the first adhoc water bucket in the country of Vietnam? Only time will tell—but his efforts was certainly a great example of field engineering.


One thought on “One of the first helicopter water buckets was developed in Vietnam”

  1. Thanks for an interesting article. Never knew about Chinooks hauling water in RVN. The location brought back some memories as I was stationed in Phu Loi with the 178th ASHC (Chinooks) in early 1967.

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