Flettner Fl 282 KOLIBRI-EN
Flettner Fl 282 KOLIBRI
Shown here as a model in scale of 1 : 4.6 – built by Dieter Störig
The Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri (“Hummingbird”) is a single-seat open cockpit intermeshing rotor helicopter, or synchropter, produced by Anton Flettner of Germany. According to Yves Le Bec, the Flettner Fl 282 was the world’s first series production helicopter.
The Fl 282 Kolibri was an improved version of the Flettner Fl 265, announced in July 1940, which had the same intermeshing rotor configuration as the earlier helicopter. It had a Siemens-Halske Sh 14 radial engine of 150-160 hp mounted in the center of the fuselage, with a transmission mounted on the front of the engine from which a drive shaft ran to an upper gearbox, which then split the power to a pair of opposite drive shafts to turn the rotors.
The Sh 14 engine was a tried and true design that only required servicing every 400 hours, as opposed to the Focke Achgelis Fa 223, which needed maintenance every 25 hours. The Fl 282′s fuselage was constructed from steel tube covered with doped fabric, and it was fitted with a fixed undercarriage.
The German Navy was impressed with the Kolibri and wanted to evaluate it for submarine spotting duties, ordering an initial 15 examples, to be followed by 30 production models. Flight testing of the first two prototypes was carried out through 1941, including repeated takeoffs and landings from a pad mounted on the German cruiser Köln.
The first two “A” series prototypes had enclosed cockpits; all subsequent examples had open cockpits and were designated “B” series.
In case of an engine failure, the switch from helicopter to autorotation was automatic.
Three-bladed rotors were installed on a test bed and found smoother than the vibrating 2-blade rotor, but the concept was not pursued further.
After the war, Anton Flettner emigrated to the United States and became the chief designer for Kaman Aircraft, creating the Kaman HH-43 Huskie. Intermeshing rotors have become noted with Kaman helicopters, which continues this concept.
Intended roles of Fl 282 included ferrying items between ships and reconnaissance. However, as the war progressed, the Luftwaffe began considering converting the Fl 282 for battlefield use. Until this time the craft had been flown by a single pilot, but now a position for an observer was added at the very rear of the craft, resulting in the B-2 version. During the Battle of the Bulge a formation of five of these aircraft conducted the world’s first helicopter strike against armour. Operating low over the Ardennes Forest they destroyed two American tanks at a loss of two of their own, one to a British Spitfire, the other to groundfire. Later the B-2 proved a useful artillery spotting aircraft and an observation unit was established in 1945 comprising three Fl 282 and three Fa 223 helicopters.
Good handling in bad weather led the German Air Ministry to issue a contract in 1944 to BMW to produce 1,000 units. However, the company’s Munich plant was destroyed by Allied bombing raids after producing just 24 machines.
Towards the end of World War II most of the surviving Fl 282s were stationed at Rangsdorf, in their role as artillery spotters, but gradually fell victim to Soviet fighters and anti-aircraft fire.
- A single Fl 282 was captured at Rangsdorf by Soviet forces
- Two, which had been assigned to “Transportstaffel 40″ (TS/40) — the Luftwaffe’s only operational helicopter squadron — at Mühldorf, Bavaria, were captured by U.S. forces
- Fl 282 V-10 28368 Midland Air Museum, Coventry, England. Partial aircraft, frame with rotor head & wheels.
- Fl 282 V-23 was at one time to be found at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio.
Text from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia