YouTube – Flettner FL-282
21 ft. 6 in.
7 ft. 3 in.
39 ft. 3 in.
The Flettner FL-282 was an early helicopter used by Germany during World War II. It was designed by Anton Flettner and nicknamed the Kolibri (hummingbird).
Flettner was working for years to produce a practical helicopter. His answer to controlling the torque produced by the helicopter’s main rotor was the use of a pair of twin bladed rotors rotating in opposite directions. There was no need for an anti-torque tail rotor. After Flettner demonstrated his design, the German Navy placed an initial order for the Flettner FL-282.
Eventually 1,000 Flettner FL-282 helicopters were ordered for production by BMW. However, few ever were produced due to Allied bombings of factories.
Flying Flettner FL-282
Flying the Flettner reports are that it was easy to control, although the rotors could strike the tail of the helicopter during quick maneuvering. Relatively minimal maintenance was necessary to keep the helicopters operational. One Flettner FL-282 was able to operate for a total of 95 hours before any maintenance was necessary.
The Flettner FL-282 was tested from surface ships and submarines. It was highly maneuverable and during a test flight was able to out maneuver German fighter aircraft.
A seat behind the engine was added to the Flettner FL-282 for an observer. Both the Luftwaffe and Navy began flying the aircraft from shore and ships on reconnaissance, rescue, and supply missions. Some Flettner FL-282 helicopters operated from escort vessels in an anti-submarine role.
The large rudder of the Flettner FL-282 was only needed to trim the aircraft and was not particularly effective due to the turbulence generated by the aircraft. Both pilot and observer of the helicopter were exposed to the elements which made flying particularly uncomfortable in inclement weather. Both crew members had a good all around view due to the central mounting of the engine.
The rotor blades of the Flettner FL-282 were wooden ribs on tubular steel spars with a fabric covering. The engine air intake was below the fuselage. A fan brought air into the engine and aided cooling. The pilot had pedals which controlled nose wheel steering as well as the rudder. Basic instruments were in a panel at the front of the cockpit.
A total of 24 Flettner FL-282 helicopters were produced. Twenty of them were deployed for anti-submarine duties in the Aegean and Mediterranean.
After the War, the U.S. took possession of two completed Flettner FL-282 helicopters, and the Russians one.