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The Gyrodyne—A Forgotten High Performer?

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The Gyrodyne was a high‐performance rotorcraft concept developed by the Fairey Aviation Company in the 1940's. The aircraft achieved the world helicopter speed record of 129 mph in the G class in 1948. It was, and is, unique in that it featured a propeller offset from the centerline of the aircraft, thereby fulfilling the dual role of anti‐torque device and auxiliary propulsion. This paper examines the flight mechanics and performance aspects of a configuration that appears not to have found favor in subsequent compound helicopter concepts. Design compromises in the implementation of a propeller or rotor for combined anti‐torque and propulsion requirements are discussed qualitatively. A contemporary rotorcraft flight mechanics simulation model is then used to quantitatively examine the trim, stability, control response and performance differences between a conventional medium single main and tail rotor helicopter, and a potential gyrodyne equivalent. The results suggest that the gyrodyne can achieve a maximum speed, limited by retreating blade stall, that is 30% higher than the equivalent helicopter. However, power requirements at hover and low speed are some 10% greater, and lateral/directional stability and response characteristics are poorer. Notwithstanding this it is concluded that the gyrodyne concept offers an elegant and efficacious design solution to the high performance helicopter problem.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Publication date: 2007-10-01

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  • The Journal of the American Helicopter Society is the world's only scientific journal dedicated to vertical flight technology. It is a peer-reviewed technical journal published quarterly by AHS International and presents innovative papers covering the state-of-the-art in all disciplines of rotorcraft design, research and development. (Please note that AHS members receive significant discounts on articles and subscriptions.)

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