From the earliest experiments to the Autogyro of the interwar and WW2 rotary wings.
The helicopters of the Korean and Vietnam War, and the cold war at large, from the Soviet block, NATO, US and Europe.
From Gulf war rotary wings to the most recent developments of attack and transport helicopters.
Early pioneers. From Da Vinci's sketches to 1861 Gustave de Ponton d'Amécourt, Enrico Forlanini, Gustave Trouvé, Hermann Ganswindt, Thomas Edison, Ján Bahýľ, the Breguet brothers, Paul Cornu, Jacob Ellehammer, Raúl Pateras-Pescara de Castelluccio... They were all part of the adventure.
They were called autogyro and appeared in Europe in Spain, Germany and other countries simultaneously. They mixed characteristics of traditional helicopters with a rotary wing (yet crude and slow, driven by the main engine). During WW2 the Axis and allies operated the first helicopters.
From the Sikorski Vs-300 to the 1st gen 1950 models. Korean, Indochina war, the era of piston-driven twin rotors pioneers. The cold war was a powerful incentive to develop helicopters, which also made their way on the civilian market for many uses.
This second generation with turboshaft engines matured well enough to spread in all manners, size, types and uses both in the civilian markets and the military. For the latter, the Vietnam War was the great proving ground for "helicopter warfare".
The Reagan years and new cold war saw the development of the first antitank attack helicopters, new cold war tactics from the Warsaw pact and NATO, while the civilian market never stopped flourishing and blossoming.
From the Gulf War to these days, third generation helicopters, new developments, convertibles such as the V22 Osprey, stealthy, superfast models and drones. Welcome to the digital age, of IA, 3D printing and augmented reality.
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Helicopedia is coming from a project of 2019 by David Bocquelet, Creator of Tank Encyclopedia, Naval Encyclopedia, and advisor for Planes encyclopedia. He is also the creator of WW1-planes.com. The long term goal is to cover the whole of rotary wings history and models since 1900.
The term came from the Greek combination of helix (ἕλιξ) "spiral, whirl" and pteron "wing". It was coined in the West by Gustave Ponton d'Amécourt in 1861 as "hélicoptère" and was anglicized. The first mention in the East dated back from China in the fourth century A.D. in a book called "Pao Phu Tau" describing such contraption. Leonardo Da Vinci designed an "aerial screw" in the 1480s.
The first "practical" helicopters had a different name: They were called autogyro and appeared in Europe in Spain, Germany and other countries simultaneously. They mixed characteristics of traditional helicopters with a rotary wing (yet crude and slow, driven by the main engine) and a plane rotary engine at the front, driving a conventional propeller. They also had conventional surfaces and tail, albeit their main wings were quite reduced. Also appeared the Gyrodyne and the cruder Rotor kite.
The autogyro made they way into WW2 although in small quantities and always operational status. However this war saw the apparition of the first operational helicopters: German Flettner models are the best known. From 1941 a Russian Emigré named Igo Sikorsky created the first practical true helicopter in the USA with the VS300 in 1939. His S1 entered service in limited numbers in 1944 for various liaison, transport, evacuation and reconnaissance missions.
Noisy and slow it was a heavy prey but that was the start of US rotary wing saga. Another Russian, Mikhail Mil, created in USSR the first modern Russian helicopter in 1946. That was the start of an amazing lineage which goes on today, alongside the products of Nikolai Kamov.