The First Helicopter Boys, The Early Days Of Helicopter Operations: The Malayan Emergency 1947-1960

One of the mysteries of the Cold War is why the Americans in Vietnam ignored the pioneering tactics earlier employed successfully by the British in securing victory against Communist aggression. The author has followed the pioneering tactics in relation to exploiting the potential of VTOL aircraft in counter-insurgency actions – Very Highly Recommended

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NAME: The First Helicopter Boys, The Early Days Of Helicopter Operations: The 
Malayan Emergency 1947-1960
FILE: R2975
AUTHOR: David Taylor
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword, Air World
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 315
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, 
Cold War, technology, VTOL, helicopters, rotary wing aircraft Cierva, British 
rotary wing development, US rotary wing development, Sikorski, S-55, Westland 
Whirlwind, counter-insurgency, Communist expansion, subversion, troop transport

ISBN: 1-52675-413-4

IMAGE: B2975.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y3bble8l
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: One of the mysteries of the Cold War is why the Americans in 
Vietnam ignored the pioneering tactics earlier employed successfully by the British 
in securing victory against Communist aggression. The author has followed the 
pioneering tactics in relation to exploiting the potential of VTOL aircraft in 
counter-insurgency actions –  Very Highly Recommended

The British were already well on the road to developing viable rotary wing VTOL 
aircraft before WWII and made the first use of this technology at the start of WWII. 
The Spanish engineer Cierva had provided the RAF with autogyros before WWII 
and they had been also tested by Fleet Air Arm pilots for the Royal Navy. Sadly, 
Cierva's death in a airliner crash retarded the development work, he had already 
started, on true helicopters, while the pressures and priorities of WWII meant that 
work was conducted very slowly during WWII. The US however was free to forge 
ahead and Sikorski produced the first viable helicopters, leading to the R4 that was 
supplied to Britain and used under the name 'Hoverfly' experimentally during WWII, 
including the first recorded medivac of a wounded Chindit from behind Japanese lines.

The differences between the autogyro and the helicopter are often misunderstood 
because of the dominance of the helicopter in rotary wing operations. 

The autogyro flies always in autorotation of it rotary wing. This rotation is produced 
by driving the aircraft forward with an engine turning a propeller, pusher of tractor, 
in much the same way a fixed wing aircraft. The autogyro therefore takes off and 
lands much as a STOL, Short Take Off & Landing, 'bush' aircraft with a very short 
take off run and a near vertical landing, using unprepared or prepared airfields. If 
the pilot points into a head wind and starts the rotation of the blades with a power 
take-off, the autogyro is able to achieve close to true vertical take off or 'jump start'.

In contrast, the helicopter applies power to the rotary wing and is able to take off 
vertically and then achieve forward flight by tilting the rotor disc. Climbing is 
achieved by increasing the angle of attack of the blades and increasing power.  With 
a single rotor, a helicopter is twisted by centrifugal force around the axis of the rotor 
and direction is controlled by powering a small tail rotor. If the engine fails, the pilot 
has to attempt to bring the aircraft into autorotation and, at this stage, it becomes an 
autogyro.

The effectiveness of the helicopter made it rapidly the dominant rotary wing 
technology. However, the autogyro is inherently safer. In fact it can be claimed as the 
safest aircraft every built. Unlike fixed wing and helicopter machines, the autogyro is 
not dependent on the engine. It is the only aircraft that can take off safely without 
warming the engine up. Being always in autorotation it will float down to the ground 
like a sycamore seed from any height. A helicopter requires sufficient height, in the 
event of engine failure, to keep the rotor turning fast enough to enter autorotation. 
Engine failure below this height is likely to result in catastrophic impact with the 
ground.  Equally, with a fixed wing aircraft, height is required to begin safe gliding. 
If power fails during take off or landing a catastrophic impact with the ground is 
likely because the aircraft will stall and become uncontrollable.

What the British realized very quickly in Malaya was that they had to protect the 
population from Communist insurgents, identify the location of insurgents and 
deliver adequate numbers of troops to bring them to battle and defeat. It was seen 
that helicopters and ground attack aircraft were essential to achieving this and the 
S-55 helicopter was ideal for the troop transport. They were used to move small 
groups of British and Commonwealth troops around before the enemy could vanish. 
If troops were injured, they could be lifted out by helicopter and delivered to a 
hospital for rapid treatment. Supplies and ammunition could be delivered exactly 
where they were needed.

The author has told the tale of these pioneering operations very effectively with 
good illustration in support of the text. There are anecdotes and first hand accounts 
that make this an important aviation history. As the Malayan Emergency continued,
the first British helicopters, Bristol Sycamores, were introduced and served 
successfully alongside the US designed Sikorsky S-55. The tactics developed 
provided the lessons adopted during the Korean War. The mystery is that the US 
military ignored the lessons during the Vietnam war and lost expensively, even 
though they used huge fleets of helicopters.