by: Russ Amott [ ]
Originally published on:
Allied Rotorcraft of the WW2 Time Period by Ryszard Witkowski
Illustrations by Teodor Liviu Morosanu
128 pages with numerous black and white photographs
24 pages of color photos and 8 pages of color plates
Long before the airplane was invented, in the early days of flight, the value of being able to rise and descend vertically and hover in place were recognized for observation purposes. Shortly after motorized flight was invented, efforts were made to create craft that could take off with little or no runway and remain stationary in the air. In Germany this led in the direction of helicopters. In Allied countries, much of this effort led to the development of rotorcraft, leaving the Allies technologically behind. Allied rotorcraft of the WWII time period focuses on the development of such aircraft by the various Allied nations. The author is himself an acomplished helicopter pilot and has an excellent understanding of the subject.
The book is broken down into 5 chapters covering the development of rotorcraft by nation. The information is basic but clear and informative, and provides illustrations and photographs to accompany the text.
Chapter 1 covers the beginning of rotorcraft design when the value of VTOL aircraft was first discovered during the the first world war. Each nation made efforts to develop craft with varying levels of success. Most of the designs were simply modified airplanes, with rotors in place of wings.
Chapter 2 focuses on the United States, with emphasis placed on Igor Sikorski and his highly successful designs, the first to see actual use in combat and civil use in the Alllied nations. Nicholas Piaseki and his dual rotor "dogship", Arthur M. Young, who started by building models and flying them in his barn, and was hired by Larry Bell to start the Bell helicopter division, and Henry Kaiser, the business tycoon and liberty ship designer and later funded and purchased many helicopter ventures to keep the subject going are also mentioned.
Chapter 3 is for Britain and it's rotocraft designs. The C.303 rota, rotochute and rotabuggy are described in this chapter. The latter two were innovative but ultimately unsuccessful designs. Britian's first helicopter venture was with Sikorski craft purchased from the US and named "Hoverfly".
Chapter 4 covers the USSR. Development there again focused on rotocraft, specifically the A7 and the Omega. Soviet designs suffered due to harsh penalty for failure and Stalin's purges in the military. When the war started, priority always went to other projects. Some German designs were captured but there is no mention in Soviet records as to what happened with them. Soviet rotorcraft were ultimately unsuccessful and the program was scrapped after the war.
Chapter 5 covers France and it's developments such as the LeO C.30 and C.301. France initially partnered with Britian in the development of rotorcraft. They actually had a squadron operational at the outset of the war, but there is no mention in French records as to their actual involvement. French design slowed during the occupation and by the end of the war and proven success of the helicopter, rotorcraft research was abandoned.
Following Chapter 5 is a section of color photos of various surviving rotorcraft and helicopters from Museum collections, and a few period photos of the craft in action. They would make a great reference if there were model kits to work with. At the end of the book are 8 pages with two color plate drawings on each page.
ConclusionI found the book interesting and informative. I was amazed at what the early inventors went through. As with airplanes, they had to learn how to fly the craft they build, and then teach others. New technologies, discoveries in aerodynamics, physics and avionics were made and political and military opposition had to be overcome. This is a good basic reference book and a good read for anyone wanting to know about the subject. My copy was provided courtesy of Casemate Publishing, but I found the book online at Amazon.com for $25.00 US, on sale for $17.76, and also listed at £12 pounds sterling.
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