Rotodyne

Welcome to Steam Geek, the companion to Scale, where I will be posting about cool old technology, particularly of the “What if?” variety.

As I’ve just won an Airfix model of a Fairey Rotodyne through EBay, it seems that the helicopter/plane hybrid will make a good subject for a first post. I’ve been a little lazy and just rounded up data from the Internet-

From helis.com

The Fairey Rotodyne was a compound helicopter of unprecedented size at the time of it’s first flight on 6 Nov. 1957, having originally been ordered by the then British Ministry of Supply, later the ministry of Aviation, in August of 1953.

First Flight : November 6, 1957

Engines: 2 * 2.800 hp Napier Eland NEL7
Cruise Speed: 300 km/h
Range: 700 km
Weight: Max: 14.900 Kgs
Rotor Span: 27.43 m
Length: 17.88 m
Height: 6.76 m
Disc Area: 591 m2

from Avia.russian.ee

The Rotodyne was extremely large, with a cabin volume of 93m3 cubic feet. The logistical attributes of the machine were considerable with rear clam-shell doors allowing the loading of large motor vehicles. A forward-located door permitted simultaneous entry and exit of passengers, which would have allowed a quick turn-around in a commercial airline operation.

It was estimated that a passenger load of as many as 48 could have been carried by the Rotodyne. That passenger compartment was 14m long, 2.4m wide, and 1.8m in height.

Scale Model Aircraft Kit Reviews has two build articles on the Airfix kit, one in original livery and one in imaginary Qantas colours

Groen Brothers excerpts an article about the role the Rotodyne would have played in cutting intercity congestion

The Fairey Rotodyne originated from an idea for a large compound helicopter by Dr. J. A. J. Bennett and Capt. A. G. Forsyth of Fairey Aviation, whose original study dates back to 1947. Their concept evolved into the “Eland” Rotodyne prototype, which sucessfully completed its maiden flight in November, 1957. Its four-bladed rotor was powered in helicopter mode by tip jets, driven by compressed air. This compressed air was lit with fuel at tip jet combustion chambers to drive the rotor, removing the necessity for an anti-torque tail rotor. The tip jets were extinguished at about 60 mph after a normal helicopter takeoff, converting the aircraft to an autogiro. In autogiro mode the collective pitch of the rotor blades, and hence rotor lift, was reduced with up to about half the weight taken by the wings, allowing much higher speeds than conventional. When approaching to land the tips were relit, converting the aircraft back to helicopter mode for a normal helicopter hover and landing.

And that’s just the first few results from a Google search. I’ll be mining the results for further info as the build approaches.


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