Nov 17, 2021

The US Army Built Engineless Helicopters in the ‘50s. Here is Why It Didn’t End Well

Posted by in categories: surveillance, transportation

Five prototypes were tested before the project was shelved.

In what might seem counter-intuitive at first, the U.S. Army supported the development of a helicopter that had no engine. One can even visit the Army’s Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker in Alabama to catch a glimpse of this design by the American Helicopter Company that is fondly called Jet Jeep.

The Jet Jeep was thought of many decades ago as the solution for a light observation needed by the Army. The U.S. Army was looking for a flight-capable option for light surveillance and by that, it meant enough to carry one or two people at the most. This is quite like the problem jet pack makers are trying to solve these days. But this was way back in the 1950s and helicopters and aircraft were largely the way flying worked.

So, the U.S Air Force took upon this task and made a lighter version of the helicopter, XH-26, by skipping the bigger engine. Instead, it put two AJ7.5–1 pulse jets at the end of each of its rotors and was also successful in avoiding the transmission system, which reduced its weight further, the U.S. Army’s website said.

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