US Army trials of the Bell 204 helicopter in 1955 lead to the development of the HU-1. Because of the initial designation the nickname Huey came about. It was soon realized that the HU-1 didn’t have the lifting power for heavy loads or room for enough troops so it was given a larger cabin, larger engine, a modified main rotor along with a few other improvements and was re-designated the UH-1B. Later versions of the UH-1B received a more powerful engine. There were 1,010 “B” variants delivered to the US Army.
In June 1966 the 174th (Sharks) Assault Helicopter Company asked the WWII Flying Tigers for permission to use their shark-mouth paint scheme and it was granted. UH-1C 66-15045 received the shark-mouth as well as the name Easy Rider, after the movie of the same name. On November 23, 1970 while flying an overnight mission, at low altitudes and in a mist the tail rotor struck trees which brought the copter down. Everyone on board survived. In 1971 the 174th ceased operations in Vietnam. Later UH-1M 66-15242 assumed the name Easy Rider.