Shortly after its 1952 acquisition of the Seibel Helicopter Company, Cessna undertook development of an innovative light helicopter designated CH-1. The aircraft made its maiden flight in 1954, and in 1957 the Army purchased ten examples of the advanced commercial model CH-1B for test and evaluation. These machines, serials 56-4236 through -4245, were allocated the designation YH-41.
The YH-41 was of all-metal construction and provided seating for a pilot and up to three passengers in a cabin closely resembling that of one of Cessna's light fixed-wing aircraft. The Seneca was powered by a single nose-mounted 260hp supercharged Continental piston engine driving the two-bladed main and anti-torque rotors via a shaft which passed between the two forward seats.
The Army's evaluation of the YH-41 showed it to be an excellent high altitude performer, though the type's limited payload and rather complex maintenance requirements precluded its large scale procurement by the Army. The ten YH-41’s were eventually relegated to miscellaneous flight test duties, most having to do with high-altitude helicopter operations, and in 1962 the surviving aircraft were redesignated NH-41A’s.