Rotor-Craft RH-1 "Pinwheel"


The Rotorcraft RF-1 Pinwheel one-man helicopter was designed in 1954 to provide military personnel with a simple go-anywhere vehicle. Basically a strap-on device, it relied upon liquid propellants to power a tipjet at the end of each rotor blade, there thus being no rotor torque effect. However, a belt-driven rail rotor was incorporated in the simple and limited structure to provide steering capability. Designed and built under US Navy contract, the RF-1 was extensively tested, leading to development of a similar Sky Hook military version. The capability of the Pinwheel can be measured by a maximum speed of 161km/h and ceiling of 4570m.

D.Donald "The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft", 1997

Rotorcraft RH-1

The 1950s saw a rash of 'personal military helicopter' designs which were seen as giving mobility to the soldier in the field. Several companies were given development contracts by the U.S. Army, including the Rotor-Craft Corporation. Rotorcraft had acquired rights to the rigid rotor designs of the Landgraf Helicopter Company and built an experimental machine known as the XH-II Dragonfly which used the Landgraf rotor system mounted in tandem - but so closely positioned that they overlapped. This was eventually abandoned and Rotorcraft produced the RH-1 "Pinwheel" single-seat helicopter to meet the U.S. Army specification. The "Pinwheel" had a 'quadripod' frame layout, with the pilot sitting in the centre of the structure with a pair of liquid nitrogen tanks positioned behind him to feed Reaction Motors XLR-32RM rocket motors mounted at the rotor tips. The "Pinwheel", which flew in 1954, was eventually abandoned as being too complex for Army operations.

R.Simpson "Airlife's Helicopter and Rotorcraft", 1998

Technical data for RH-1 "Pinwheel"

Engine: 2 x Rotor Craft rockets, cruising speed: 96km/h, endurance: 9 min