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Choppers in WWII

Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by Doc Raider, Nov 30, 2002.

  1. Doc Raider

    Doc Raider Member

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    Has anyone ever come accross any info on helecopters in WWII? I know use, if any, was extremely limited, possibly just experimental. But my grandfather swears that he saw them for the first time in the marianas in 1945. My searches have all come up empty. I'd figure that if the Germans had jets, they at least experimented with helecopters, right? Well, I don't know, I guess that's why I'm asking.
     
  2. Sniper

    Sniper Member

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    Doc, your grandfather wasn't dreaming.

    He probably saw a Sikorsky R-4B. There's a picture in a book I have on US aircraft that shows a Sikorsky R-4B, in April 1945, getttin gin some hovering practice near the tower at Tinian, in the Mariana's, just prior to the arrival of those famous B-29's, Enola Gay and Bock's Car.

    [​IMG]

    And some brief details on the Sikorsky R-4B.

    In September 1941, Sikorsky's VS-300 helicopter (prototype to the R-4B) was achieving free flight at speeds of around 70 mph, and the US government gave out a contract for a two-seat version to be developed.

    During May 1942 a Sikorsky XR-4 made the worlds first cross country helicopter delivery when it flew from Stratford, Connecticut to Wright Field in Ohio. A distance of 761 miles.

    Over 100 R-4B's were built during the war. Most going into service with the USAAF.

    Among the aircraft's achievements were; the worlds first helicopter landing aboard ship, when in May 1943, a YR-4B, piloted by Col. Frank Gregory, landed on the deck of the USS Bunker Hill, and the worlds first helicopter rescue, when an R-4B rescued the 4 occupants of a light aircraft which had crashed behind Japanese lines in Burma in April 1944.

    The Germans also experimented with helicopters. I belieive they had a demonstration of a twin rotor helicopter in MUnich just before the war.

    They also used auto-gyros on some U-Boats, to enable them to spot convoys etc. from a long distance. But I don't know how successful this was.
    _______________________

    "Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
    Dave Barry
     
  3. charlie don't surf

    charlie don't surf Member

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    I remember a colour photo of a helicopter hovering above a german u-boat that has surrendered to the americans.

    The germans also experimented with helicopters, do you remember 'the eagle's nest'?
    ;)

    regards
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Heinrich Focke startled the aviation world when he flew his Focke-Wulf Fw 61 helicopter in 1937. It quickly shattered all records for helicopter speed, altitude, distance, and endurance. Thanks to Focke and fellow helicopter pioneer, Anton Flettner, Germany entered World War II as the leader in rotorcraft technology. By 1942, the German Navy was already testing Flettner's twin-rotor helicopter, the Fl 282. Navy leaders hoped to use this aircraft to hunt for enemy submarines and protect convoys.

    Details about the Fa 330 in combat service are almost nonexistent, primarily because so many U-boats were lost, and very few ships' logs have survived. However, the log of U-861 recorded the flight of that boat's Fa 330 off the coast of Madagascar. There was a significant concern that may have prevented wider employment of the Fa 330. Several U-boat commanders apparently did not believe that flying the rotor kite was worth risking an entire vessel and crew if anti-submarine patrols jumped the vulnerable submarine. It seems that some captains traded their Fa 330s for Japanese floatplanes that the Germans used to defend U-boat bases in Java and Malaya.

    After U-852 ran aground off the Somali coast during an air attack on May 3, 1944, the Allies discovered the Fa 330. They were less impressed with its performance but quite astounded by the simple construction and operation of the device, and the speed and ease of assembly. It was apparent that such an aircraft allowed a significant increase in visual range at sea for relatively little effort, and the Allies carried out considerable testing at war's end.

    http://avia.russian.ee/vertigo/focke_drache-r.html

    http://www.nasm.edu/nasm/aero/aircraft/focke_achgelis.htm
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Nice coincidence. Just a while ago we were talking about Hanna Reitsch and she was testing the first choppers herself!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Focke Achgelis Fa 223 Drache

    Type: Transport Helicopter
    Origin: Focke Achgelis Flugzeugbau GmbH
    Models: E
    First Flight: August 1940
    Service Delivery: 1942
    Engine: BMW 301R nine-cylinder radial
    Horsepower: 1,000 hp

    Dimensions:
    Rotor Diameter: 12.00m (39 ft. 4.5 in.)
    Rotor Span (Turning): 24.50 (80 ft. 4.75 in.)
    Number of rotor blades: 3
    Number of rotors: 2
    Distance Between Rotor hubs: 12.50m (41 ft. o.25 in.)
    Fuselage Length: 12.25m (40 ft. 0.25 in.)
    Height: N/A

    Weights:
    Empty: 3,175kg (7,000 lbs.)
    Maximum: 4,309kg (9,500 lbs.)
    Performance:
    Maximum Speed: 175km/h (109 mph)
    Cruising Speed: 121km/h (75 mph)
    Initial climb: N/A
    Range: 435 miles (700km) with auxiliary tanks.
    Service Ceiling: N/A

    Armament:
    One MG 15 manually aimed from the nose.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. mp38

    mp38 Member

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    Yes, both the Americans and Germans had experimented with choppers during WWII. The Germans had several that were actually used.

    The one used by U-boats was a portable "roto-kite" that could be stored inside a 6 foot metal tube, and stored inside the u-boat. It could be brought onto the deck, assembled, and take off! It was used for recon to find enemy shipping.

    The real impact of the chopper occured during the Korean war. The US army mainly used these for evacuating the wounded and lift them out to a "M.A.S.H." unit. (just like the T.V. show!)

    It wasn't really until the Vietnam war, that the chopper began being used as an offensive weapon. Both to carry troops in to combat, and to carry its' own firepower to deliver to the enemy!

    Matt :cool:
     
  7. Doc Raider

    Doc Raider Member

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    Thanks All!! And sniper - my grandpa was on Tinian, so that must be exactly what he saw!!!
     
  8. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    There is an excellent website that deals with experimental German Aircraft and German Helicopters. Ask Erich Brown for the website--he knows it very well and can get you a URL for it.
     
  9. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Check your search engines and type in German Helicopters. There is an excellent site covering them but I do not have the url....I think I posted it earlier this year and it is probably lost in the many threads of months gone by. Also for experimental machines type in Luftwaffe 46 and that should come up with some nice titles.

    E
     
  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    In 1942 the fuselage of a DFS 230 glider had its fixed wings replaced by an Fa 223 three-blade rotor mounted on a structural pylon. To take the increased landing load, a braced undercarriage replaced the normal skid. This hybrid rotaglider, designated Focke Achgelis Fa 225, was towed behind a Junkers Ju-52/3m in test, during 1943, and could land within a distance of 59 ft.

    It was not, however, put to operational use, probably because of changing operational requirements, and possibly because its advantages were counterbalanced by the fact that the towing speed was considerably lower than that of the standard DFS 230, and it would have been more vulnerable to attack with its slower assault approach speed.

    http://www.germanvtol.com/fockeachgiles/225folder/fa225.html

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Mahross

    Mahross Ace

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    Try this:
    http://www.helis.com/stories/burma45.php
    its a story of medevac in operation in burma in 1945. the helicopter came out after a request to help save downed US pilots. it was transported in a C-54.
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Rotary/flettner/HE6.htm

    Anton Flettner—Kolibri

    [​IMG]

    Anton Flettner was a German aeronautical scientist who experimented with helicopters in the 1930s. He built his first helicopter in 1930—a complicated and odd-looking craft, and realized it was not a practical helicopter design. It was destroyed during a tethered flight in 1933, and Flettner turned his attention to autogyros. He built a craft called the Fl 184, which had full cyclic control that allowed the pilot to tilt the rotor by moving the control stick in the direction that he wanted to fly.

    Flettner's initial Fl 184 design was successful, so the inventor added power to the main rotor. He also developed a collective pitch control, which allowed the pilot to increase the pitch of all of the lifting blades simultaneously. Flettner also removed the autogyro's main propeller and replaced it with two smaller propellers on outriggers located on the side.

    In 1937, while the Focke-Achgelis Fa 61 was making its impressive test flights, Flettner began developing the Fl 265. This was a small helicopter, compared to its only contemporary, the Focke-Achgelis Fa 223. The Fl 265, which was called a synchropter because of its rotor configuration, had two counter-rotating rotors set close together and splayed outwards. The rotors intermeshed like the blades of an eggbeater. Flettner received a small production contract from the German Navy in 1938, and the aircraft made its first flight in May 1939. The aircraft proved impressively controllable in flight and was a major improvement over the Focke-Achgelis designs.

    In 1940, Flettner debuted an improved version designated the Fl 282 Kolibri (hummingbird). The Kolibri could fly at almost 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), could reach 13,000 feet (3,962 meters), and could carry an 800-pound (383-kilogram) load. The fuselage was approximately 21.5 feet (6.5 meters) long, and the craft was 7.2 feet (2.1 meters) high. The rotor diameter was approximately 39.2 feet (12 meters) and had the same synchropter configuration as the earlier Fl 265.

    A Siemens-Halske Sh14A engine providing 150 to 160 horsepower (112 to 119 kilowatts) powered the Kolibri Fl 282. The radial engine was mounted in the center fuselage, with a small propeller to draw in cooling air. A transmission was mounted on the engine crankcase front. It ran a driveshaft connected to an upper gearbox that split the power into two opposite rotating driveshafts that turned the rotors.

    Flettner designed his craft to carry two people, a pilot and an observer. The pilot sat in front of the rotors in an open cockpit affording good visibility. The observer sat in a single compartment behind the rotors, facing the rear. The observer could spot submarines at sea or troop movements on the battlefield. The Kolibri was one of the first helicopters designed with a clear military mission.

    The German Navy (Kriegsmarine) was impressed with the Kolibri and wanted to evaluate its use for submarine spotting. However, critics argued that fighter planes would easily attack the slow-flying craft. In 1941, the Navy conducted an evaluation using two fighter planes to stage a mock attack on a Fl 265. The fighters could not hold the agile craft in their gunsights.

    Flettner also demonstrated that the little craft could land on a ship, even in heavy seas. Naval leaders were impressed and, in 1940, ordered several dozen of the craft with the clear intention of mass-producing them. Allied bombing ended production efforts, but 24 of the aircraft still entered service, with a number of them being used for escort service, flying off the gun turrets of ships to spot submarines, and performing resupply missions even in poor weather conditions. The German Army also evaluated this type of aircraft.

    The Fl 282 served in the Baltic, North Aegean, and Mediterranean Seas. Only three of the craft survived the war; the Germans destroyed the rest to prevent them from falling into Allied hands. Two of the survivors went to the United States and Britain, the third to the Soviet Union.

    The Fl 282 was designed so the rotor blades and landing gear could be removed and the helicopter stored in a compact area such as the pressure tank of a U-boat. There is no evidence that it was ever used this way. It was intended to search for submarines, and in the fairly clear waters of the Mediterranean, a pilot could see a submerged submarine as deep as 130 feet (40 meters). He could match the speed and course of the submarine and radio the position to the convoy. The pilot could also mark the sub's position with a smoke bomb. But the helicopter was too small to carry weapons, although some tests were conducted with small anti-submarine bombs. There is no good information on the helicopter's actual use during the war.

    The Kolibri's intermeshing rotors represented the fourth approach to solving the control and torque problems, after Bréguet's stacked coaxial counter-rotating blades, Focke's widely spaced counter-rotating blades, and Sikorsky's tail rotor. The Kaman Huskie, which saw U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine service during the 1950s and 1960s, and the Kaman K-Max single-seat aerial crane used this design in the 1990s. The design has not proven to be long lasting or popular. The biggest problems with this design are that the helicopters are slow compared to other types and the rotors endanger people on the ground.

    The Fl 282 is most notable for pioneering the Naval use of helicopters, particularly for hunting submarines. However, it would be many years before a helicopter was produced that routinely succeeded in this mission.


    [​IMG]

    Anton Flettner and Kolibri

    During 1944, when the Fl-282 was considered fully developed, Anton Flettner turned to the design of the Fl-339, using all the experience gained with the Fl-282. The Fl-339, which never got beyond the project stage, was to have been a much larger helicopter weighing some 3,000 kg (6,615 lb) empty, carrying about 20 passengers and being powered by a single engine.

    After the war, only three Fl-282s were discovered by the Allies in a serviceable condition for testing, the Fl-252 V15 and V23 being taken to the USA and a third machine to the USSR. Examples, known to have survived are the Fl-282 (c/n 28368) at the Cranfleld Institute of Technology, and the Fl-282 V23 at the United States Air Force Museum, Dayton, Ohio.


    http://www.germanvtol.com/flettnerfolder/fl282.html

    [ 28. April 2003, 06:56 AM: Message edited by: Kai-Petri ]
     
  13. Greg A

    Greg A Member

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    Is it me or does the Fa 223 look a little like the V-22 Osprey the Marine Corps wants to use to replace their Sea Knights with?

    Greg
     
  14. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Very nice pictuires and information, everybody!

    I think we had discussed it earlier, didn't we? Kai was very kind in getting a picture of our dear Hanna Reitsch flying a German helicopter in Berlin's Sport Palace, I think... And we showed Erich that I was right! :eek:

    (Just kiddin', Erich. You know we're all just rookies in Luftwaffe's affairs, compared to you) ;)
     
  15. wilconqr

    wilconqr Dishonorably Discharged

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    FOCKE-ACHGELIS Fa 330A-1 Bachstelze
    Rotor Diameter: 8.5 m (28 ft)
    Length: 4.5 m (15 ft 8 in)
    Height: 1.7 m (5ft 6 in)
    Weight: Empty, 75 kg (165 lb)

    This surveillance platform became of interest to me while reading Wolf Pack by Gordon Williamson.

    "Heinrich Focke startled the aviation world when he flew his Focke-Wulf Fw 61 helicopter in 1937. It quickly shattered all records for helicopter speed, altitude, distance and endurance. Thanks to Focke and fellow helicopter pioneer, Anton Flettner, Germany entered World War II as the leader in rotorcraft technology. By 1942, the German Navy was already testing Flettner's twin-rotor helicopter, the FI 282. Navy leaders hoped to use this aircraft to hunt for enemy submarines and protect convoys. The tests convinced them to continue to develop rotary-winged aircraft for shipboard use.
    In those days, submarines had an acute need for long-range surveillance. These vessels rode low in the water and lookouts could hardly spot a ship more than about 9.6 to 12.8 km (6-8 miles) away. A small aircraft offered a novel solution to this problem, but only if the submarine could remain undetected on the surface to launch and recover it. While surfaced, the submarine was extremely vulnerable to any patrolling anti-submarine airplane or warship. If attacked, the submarine had no choice but to crash dive as quickly as possible. If (sic) this kind of situation, the submarine captain and crew considered the aircraft and pilot expendable.
    [. . .] German navy leaders asked Focke-Achgelis GmbH to build a rotor kite that a U-boat could tow aloft to search for targets. The aircraft had to fly high enough to substantially boost the scouting range, yet remain small, easy to store, and mechanically simple to maintain and operate. Focke-Achgelis proposed a clever design best characterized by simplicity. The Fa 330 was easy to produce and quick to assemble on deck for flight, and it weighed so little that two men could comfortably hoist the entire machine. The Fa 330 needed no engine because the submarine towed the gyro kite through the air. Like a gyroplane, the rotor kite flew by autorotation, meaning that the movment of relative wind up through the rotor blades caused them to turn with sufficient speed to generate lift.
    [. . .] Should the U-boat came (sic) under attack and need to 'crash' dive, the pilot pulled a large red lever above the seat. This started a chain of events designed to save the submarine without sacrificing the pilot. The towline disconnected from the aircraft, freeing the submarine to dive immediately, and the spinning rotor simultaneously departed from the airframe rotor mast. As the rotors flew up and away, they pulled a cable that deployed the pilot's parachute. When [the] parachute blossomed, the pilot popped his seat harness and the remainder of the gyrocopter fell into the sea. After the submarine evaded the threat, it could return to the surface to pick up the pilot. If time and circumstances permitted, the pilot could release the towline without triggering the entire emergency sequence. The flyer could then ditch his Fa 330 near the submarine, or attempt to land back aboard the ship. The type of threat and the speed of its approach dictated the pilot's actions.
    [. . .] Only the Type IX U-boat, with a surfaced speed of 18 knots (33.3 kph or 20.7 mph), could tow the Fa 330 fast enough for flight on low wind conditions.
    [. . .] Details about the Fa 330 in combat service are almost nonexistent, primarily because so many U-boats were lost, and very few ships' logs have survived. However, the log of U-861 recorded the flight of that boat's Fa 330 off the coast of Madagascar. There was a significant concern that may have prevented wider employment of the Fa 330. Several U-boat commanders apparently did not believe that flying the rotor kite was worth risking an entire vessel and crew if anti-submarine patrols jumped the vulnerable submarine.
    [. . .] Flight trials proved the Fa 330 met its design goals but operational service suggests that U-boat crews would have been hard pressed to employ this aircraft successfully. Despite this dubious potential, Heinrich Focke succeeded in building and flying an innovative and interesting rotorcraft."


    http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/aero/aircraft/focke_achgelis.htm
     

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  16. wilconqr

    wilconqr Dishonorably Discharged

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  17. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    That is a pretty advanced machine for WWI. I was wondering about the part "he could leave the cupola with a parachute, if necessary." If the props are turning he is a hamburger and if not how does the chute avoid all the obstictcles protruding from the airframe ? I think I would rather have a ballon to go up in but still it was a good starting point for a heliocopter and I had not read about it before.

    I also did not know they used French engines in their aircraft. :eek:

    Thanks for posting it !
     
  18. wilconqr

    wilconqr Dishonorably Discharged

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    Maybe as the aircraft was losing gravity the pilot's parachute would simply "pull" him clear. Then again, that may be one for an episode of Mythbusters.
     
  19. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    I suppose he could have a large umbrella over his perch and as the thing went down he could unhook it and sail away like Mary Poppins. :eek: :D

    I stll think I would go for a nice quiet ballon ride and float above it all !
     
  20. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    No, no, don't say that! If we let those Mythbusters people loose in this forum's What If section nothing will be left! :D
     

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