U.S. Helicopters in WWII

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World War II was an important developmental period for helicopters. Crucial missions that fixed-wing aircraft could not properly execute were handled by vertical rotorcraft. Most of these missions were reconnaissance and recuse operations. However, once it was realized how versatile the aircraft was, they were put to work in heavy lift operations also. The following is a few of the major U.S. helicopters that were used in WWII.

Kellett KD-1A

KD-A1 mid-flight. (Credit: US Air Force)

This helicopter originated in the 1930s. It was built by the Kellett Autogiro Company. It was known as the first practical rotary-wing aircraft that was used by the US Army. There were many prototypes and variants of the KD-1A. Each upgrade included minor improvements. The aircraft itself can carry only two crew members. It is safe to say that helicopters have come a long way since the KD-1A in WWII.

Sikorsky R-4B

The Sikorsky R-4B. (Credit: US Coast Guard)

This Igor Sikorsky made helicopter is a two-seater. It was designed with a single, three-bladed main rotor and powered by a radial engine. This aircraft’s first flight was in 1942. It has a top range of 130 miles and 75 mph. The R-4B is known as the world’s first mass-produced helicopter. It is also the first helicopter to be used in combat by the branches of the U.S. military.

Sikorsky R-6

The Sikorsky R-6. (Credit: US Air Force)

This light, two-seater rotorcraft was introduced in the 1940s. It was originally named Hoverfly II in the Royal Air Force. The now-retired aircraft was used as rescue and reconnaissance aircraft in WWII. There was only 225 built in total. Today, there are only four R-6 helicopters displayed in US museums.

Sikorsky R-5A

The Sikorsky R-5A. (Credit: US Air Force)

This Sikorsky aircraft was first introduced in 1945. Also known as, Sikorsky H-5, there are many variants of this aircraft. It was intended to be a rescue and reconnaissance helicopter in WWII. There were over 300 types produced for the US military. It was differentiated from the R-4 because of its increased rotor diameter and a longer fuselage. It can only hold two crew members and two stretchers in external panniers.  The R-5A can fly up to 106 mph for 360 miles.

Helicopters Today

This Kaman K-2000 K-Max is used today for heavy lift operations.

It is no secret that helicopters have evolved from their predecessors. Not only do rotorcraft have the ability to lift more weight, but they are also larger and have more passenger capacity. Helicopters are used in more than just combat and military operations. They are used for agricultural purposes, construction purposes, aerial surveys, and much more. Helicopters provide perfect levels of versatility that can accomplish jobs that fixed-wings would never be able to. If you are interested in learning more about Flex Air Aviation and our access to utility and sight-seeing helicopters, give us a shout at 1-800-615-9754. Even though we might not have access to retired, WWII aircraft, we have access to all of the top-of-the-line equipment and rotorcraft.

Call 1-800-615-9754 to learn more about our access to helicopters!