Helicopter Joins Army as Courier, Ambulance
May 1943 Popular Mechanics

May 1968 Popular Mechanics
May 1968 Popular Mechanics - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

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Helicopter Joins Army as Courier, Ambulance

Adopted by the Army Air Forces after nearly a year of experiments, the Sikorsky helicopter has been placed in production and will be tried out in the field as a courier and rescue craft. The army model is the first two-seat helicopter built, accommodating pilot and passenger or crew member side by side. Its ability to land in an area no larger than that described by its big main rotor, and to take off vertically without a runway, makes it ideal as a liaison and message carrier at the front. Any clearing about 40 feet in diameter will accommodate the ship. With low-pressure floats it could operate from land, water, snow, marsh or thin ice. If landing is impossible, a telephone line dropped from the helicopter to a headquarters post on a mountain top or in a dense forest would permit personal delivery of messages. Equipped as an aerial ambulance it could bring injured men out of a jungle or inaccessible area - and there have been recent instances where victims of bomber crashes could have been rescued by helicopter in hours rather than the days required to reach them by pack train. The army points out, too, the possibilities opened up by the ability of the helicopter to alight on a ship's deck. The Army-Sikorsky helicopter is a simplified and improved model of the single-place craft which Igor Sikorsky first demonstrated in 1940. Like its prototype, it can rise or descend vertically, hover, move forward, backward or sidewise, or spin like a top, and in case of motor failure can windmill down safely. Its main three-bladed rotor of 36 feet diameter operates above the fuselage; a 7 1/2-foot rotor in a vertical plane at one side of the tail is for steering and torque compensation. A seven-cylinder radial engine drives both rotors by gear and shaft transmission. The helicopter weighs 2,400 pounds gross, and is about 38 feet long by 12 feet high. In one of its tests at Wright Field a ladder was let down to the ground while the helicopter hovered motionless above, and a crew member climbed down, completed an errand on the ground, then climbed the ladder again to the still waiting craft. In another demonstration the passenger slid down a rope to the ground from the helicopter while it "parked upstairs."

Top view of first two-seat helicopter shows vertical tail rotor. Left, the army craft hovers as a parcel is handed up