Airborne Awesomosity

Beating The Air Into Submission

After building the evil autogyros under license, Professor Henrich Focke decided that even more evil could be unleashed on mankind. What if we powered the rotor! We could create a flying machine so dastardly, it would take six years before a human would be able to harness the evil into a producible and, therefore, not-as-likely-to-kill-you machine.

Focke-Wulf had been building autogyros for years when, in 1932, Professor Focke and one of his unwitting employees began development of the world’s first true helicopter. The Fw 61 began as a scale model with a 2-cycle engine. This allowed the design team to fine tune their design while only suffering flesh wounds, rather than the full out assault on the human body later machines would unleash.

By 1935, Focke had his design subdued enough to receive an order for a prototype. Eventually, two prototypes would be developed. Both would be destroyed by God himself during WW2.

The most troublesome aspect of a helicopter is the torque reaction. With a giant, spinning blade up top, Newton’s 3rd Law came into affect. That giant, death-seeking blade would cause the aircraft to spin the opposite direction. To solve this, Focke used two blades spinning opposite each other. These were driven off the same radial engine. The small forward propeller was an attempt to trick everyone into thinking this was just as safe as an airplane to cool the engine during vertical and hovering maneuvers and provided very little forward thrust. Instead, the rotors would beat the air into submission, allowing the beast to fly.

The special type of insanity it takes to create this zany machine would go on to infect others and, eventually, the evil would be harnessed and put to productive use. A lot like taming a snake.

[Image Credit: Copyright status unknown; used under Fair Use]

  • The Professor

    Isn't that the contraption that that German girl pilot flew inside of a stadium? I can't remember her name. Pretty thing, as I recall.

    • pj134

      My brain didn't read that has contraption.

      I'm calling helicopters and VTOLs contraceptions/contraceptives from here on out.

    • Very good, Professor! Yes, Hanna Reitsch flew it at the Deutschlandhalle sports stadium in Munich.

      • The Professor

        Ah yes, that's the girl, Hanna Reitsch. She did lots of propaganda performances for the Reich, back in the bad old days. She was a talented pilot too, as I recall, but a Nazi through and through unfortunately. Mad as a spoon.
        Thanks for finding her name, it's been bothering me all day.

  • Alff

    That looks like a waste of a perfectly good airplane.

    • True, but historical accuracy aside, I'm sure the vertical stabilizer could be repainted easily enough.

      • Alff

        On that point, I was quite surprised to discover that the entry to the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen is flanked by two massive elephant statues (hence, Elephant Beer) that are adorned with large swastikas. The tour guide went to great pains to explain that the statues predate the Nazis and that the swastika is in fact an ancient symbol meaning something relatively innocuous (peace? prosperity? I don't recall).

        I remember thinking that if that brewery existed in the U.S., the marketing department would have eradicated the symbols years ago. I was glad that hadn't happened in Denmark, and to have learned their historical context.

        • P161911

          Well, there is the old subdivision in Denver, Swastika Acres.

        • Charles_Barrett

          The swastika is a pretty basic geometric shape (like the 'Greek key') that predates the Nazis by millennia. You can find it in Native American handicrafts, as well as 19th century rural and rustic Americana.
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          • Alff

            Heil warmth!

          • FЯeeMan

            Yes, the swastika has been around for ages. The Eli Lilly (used to work there) original headquarters building lobby (built around 1920) had several in tiles in the floor along with a pretty large number of other very old symbols on floor tiles. Most of them, I believe, related to health, well-being and peace at one time or another.

            The Swastika, on the other hand, was associated with the Nazis and is a symbol of evil

          • Charles_Barrett

            Search Google Images for 'whirling log' and you'll see all sorts of Navaho textiles, pottery, jewelry, etcetera with swastika patterns.

            Oh, and I seem to recall the art nouveau era streetlamps in Glendale or Burbank, California, have swastikas in the decor on their base.

          • The swastika is very prevalent in the far eastern religions (Hindu, Buddhism, etc.) and is a symbol for health and well-being.

            It wasn't associated with evil until Hitler co-opted it due to its popularity as a decoration at the time of his rise to power.

          • I was rather hoping for a response of "I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never kippled!"

            Don't people send postcards any more?

        • pj134

          It has been used in Buddhism for about 5000 years, they say it was put on his chest (carved? burned?) after his death by his followers and is the "heart seal" you'll see it on a lot of the statues (pre him being depicted as a big fat fatty) of him, usually backwards. The swastika as we know it is their symbol for peace.

          Also, certain groups got a bit angry because a Pokemon trading card had it on there.

  • theTokenGreek

    funny thing about helicopters: Every time they figure out how to solve whatever big problem stands in their way, they run into another. The tamed torque effect, and almost immediately encountered dissymmetry of lift. They give rotor systems flapping hinges and then lead/lag capabilities (to combat dissymmetry of drag, too), and then they realize that they can't intuitively control the attitude of the rotor's plane. They had failed to take into account phase lag in rotating systems, and it took quite some time for the rotating swashplate assembly to be invented. An amazing piece a of tech, that should earn a full article on this site…

  • Take a ride on this fatal eggbeater arm remover? Focke no.