Rotorcraft of The III Reich

Red • 2007
AuthorsRyszard Witkowski
IllustratorTeodor Liviu Morosanu
Release date2007-04-01
Cat. No.5109
CategoryAvailable CategoryDostępne
Format104 pages (24 in colour)
Price44.00 PLN Price12.99 GBP


The technical problems involved in developing practical helicopters were studied and largely solved by German designers in the late ‘30s, and the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine used rotorcraft operationally in a variety of roles during WW2. This book describes the development and use of autogyros and helicopters in Germany up to 1945, plus the postwar use of German machines, and their influence on later helicopter designs, in other countries.
The author was one of the very first Polish helicopter pilots trained in 1956. For many years a test pilot and senior instructor, he has lectured on helicopter theory and applications and is the author of many books and articles on rotorcraft. Chairman of the Experimental Test Pilots’ Club and President of Polish Aviation Seniors’ Club.

See also Allied Rotorcraft of the WW2 Period - link

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  • German Luftwaffe, 1935 - 1945: Notes and Reviews • 2010-02-23
    by Tom Gabriel Fischer

    In 2002, Classic Publications released "Helicopters of the Third Reich", Steve Coates' landmark study on rotary wing aviation in Germany until 1945. It has become the standard reference on the topic. Ryszard Witkowski's neat little "Rotorcraft of the Third Reich" is thus not a competitor. Instead, it is perhaps perfect for those who have only a passing interest in the subject, and it is also ideal as a compact set of references for modelers.

    Due to the fact that helicopters represented a rather diminutive field of aviation which was largely still in development before and during World War II, there is only a finite amount of period material available. It is probably for this reason that Witkowski's "Rotorcraft of the Third Reich" often feels like a compressed miniature version of Coates' "Helicopters of the Third Reich". Witkowski provides an abbreviated overview of German helicopter development and history, including early autogyros, wartime types, projects, aircraft captured by the Allies, and post-war helicopter development.

    Needless to say, Witkowski covers many - but not all - of the aircraft featured in the larger work, and there are countless photos which appear in both publications. But a number of these common photos are printed in a slightly inferior quality in Witkowski's "Rotorcraft of the Third Reich", although the very decent paper would surely allow for a better reproduction. Both publications supply numerous line drawings of the aircraft described, and these exhibit only minor differences. There is also a small pull-out with 1/72nd scale drawings of the Focke Achgelis Fa 223 V1, Fa 223 V51, and Fa 223 E. "Rotorcraft of the Third Reich" concludes with several pages of color profiles as well as color photos of surviving aircraft.

    This is a handy and very nicely made book, although some questions remain. For example, it would be interesting to find out how Witkowski arrives at the "Fw 354" designation for the Focke-Wulf "Triebflügel" project. This number was not assigned in the RLM GL/C list, and to the best of my knowledge, I also have not seen it in print anywhere else before. Unfortunately, there is neither an explanation nor does the limited size of Witkowski's book provide room for a list of original documents consulted, if any, and there is only a short bibliography at the end, almost entirely dedicated to post-war publications.
  • Helico Revue No 74 - German magazine • 2010-02-23
  • IPMSUSA.org • 2010-02-23
    Reviewed By John Vitkus, IPMS# 30013

    A new title in the Mushroom Model Publications Red Series (aircraft history) covers a unique subject: German WWII helicopters and autogyros. It was something of a surprise to see a book on Nazi rotorcraft land on my review desk. Nevertheless, I dutifully began reading in preparation for this review, and I was rewarded with a concise yet thorough account of this small corner of aviation history written in a clear, engaging style. What a treat it was.

    Rotorcraft of the Third Reich is printed in Mushroom's familiar softcover small-format (9-1/2" X 6-1/2") and contains 104 pages printed on glossy, high-quality paper. Text is in highly readable English throughout, and most pages include several clear B/W photos - 134 in all. The cover and a section on museum aircraft contains a further 27 color photos. Interspersed throughout the text are 22 1/72 and two 1/48 detailed line drawings. There is also a section of 27 excellently rendered color profiles. A final section details several projects that were not put into production.

    What is most valuable about this book, though, is the educational account of this unique topic. I am used to the standard design of most American helos dating back to Igor Sikorsky: a main rotor with a perpendicular tail rotor to counteract torque. In contrast, the Germans employed different design philosophies based on the work on three inventive aircraft designers: Walter Rieseler, Anton Flettner, and Henrich Focke. Rieseler built three prototypes employing two contrarotating main rotors. Unfortunately, his influence was brief due to a series of accidents unrelated to the design and Rieseler's premature death in 1938.

    Flettner developed a design of two interlocking main rotors revolving in opposite directions. Development of this design resulted in series production of the Fl-282 Kolibri (Hummingbird). Twenty-two were built during WWII, and some saw limited operational use in Lufttransportstaffel 40 evacuating high level personnel from embattled cities. Helo fans will recognize his influence on the design of the postwar U.S. Kaman HH-43 Huskie.

    Focke went in a different direction, employing extended booms on both sides of the fuselage that contained large counterrotating rotors. These worked much like the Chinook, only side-by-side rather than front-to-back. An early version of this design, the Fw-61, became famous when test pilots Karl Bode and Hanna Reitsch flew propaganda demonstration flights inside the Deutschlandhalle amphitheatre. Development of this design culminated in the Fa-223 Drache (Dragon), a large aircraft with a fuselage length of 12.25m (40ft) and a rotor span of 25m (80ft). This aircraft was used for limited rescue work in the final months of WWII. A total of 14 were completed, with many more incomplete airframes captured by the Soviets.

    The third German rotorcraft to see production was another Focke design, the Fa-330 Bachselze (Wagtail). This tiny aircraft was a minimalist development of the prewar autogiro concept. Ordered by the Kriegsmarine as observation platforms to be towed behind U-boats running on the surface, these were successful in their role. However, they were unpopular with submarine crews because they delayed the crash dive process - a delay that might well result in death. It is unclear how many Fa-330s were built; 14 survive in museums.

    This is an excellent account of early helicopter development from the German point of view. It makes for enjoyable, educational reading and is highly recommended for all aviation enthusiasts, including those like me who are not helicopter experts. The accompanying photos, scale plans, and profiles will be very useful to those building models of these aircraft. I know of kits in 1/72 scale for the Fl-265, Fw-61 (card), Fa-223, Fa-225, Fa-269, Fa-330, FW Triebflugel, WN-342, and Heliofly I and III/57 "backpack helicopters" and in 1/48 scale for the Fl-265, Fl-282, Fa-223, and Fa-330, FW Triebflugel. The Heliofly III/57 is also available in 1/35.
  • Hyperscale.com • 2010-02-23
    Reviewed by Rodger Kelly

    No, this is not another Luftwaffe 1946 what if book!

    It is, in fact, a record of the efforts made by German manufacturers in the world of rotary wing aviation during the Third Reich era of Germanys history.

    If you had not known about the advances made in the rotary wing world by Germany reading this book will give you the full picture. It covers the efforts of the major players, Flettner, Focke, and Reisler.

    The prelude sets the scene by describing the background of the players and their early efforts. What follows are detailed explorations into the three major developments:

    FL 265 Kolibri (Hummingbird)
    Fa 223 Drache (Dragon)
    Fa 330 Bachstelze (Wagtail) the famed U-Boat Helicopter.
    What follows are brief coverage of other projects. These include:
    The designs of Baron Friedrich von Doblhoff
    The N.R. (Nagler and Rolz) series of projects
    Fa 225
    Fa 284
    Fa 325
    Fw 354 Triebflugel
    Fa 269 Kurzstartjagdflugzeug
    Fa 283 Kampfhubscrauber

    The final chapter, entitled Echoes, follows the post-war history, testing and further development of the German designs and their evolution into modern day helicopters.

    The book is No 5109 in the Mushroom Model Publications Red Series. Printed in Poland on good quality glossy paper, it contains text in the English language only. A soft cover book, it is B5 format 240x165 mm (or 6˝ x 9 for those of us who are yet to go metric) and comprises 104 pages. It contains 104 black and white period photographs, 26 colour photographs of surviving examples, 26 colour profiles as well as 14 1/72 scale line drawings.

    Those who own the Special Hobby 1/48 scale Focke-Angelis Fa 223 kit will find the text and photographs contained within the books pages especially helpful in assisting you in getting the kit right.


    I was impressed with this book. It is a well written, well illustrated and very informative summary of a little known chapter of World War Two aviation.

    Highly Recommended.
  • InternetModeler.com • 2010-02-23
    By Chris Banyai-Riepl
    The newest book from Mushroom provides an interesting look at a Luftwaffe subject: rotorcraft. This includes helicopters and autogyros, of which there were quite a few on the German side. This book provides a thorough history of these, from their pre-war beginnings to their post-war fates. As other titles in the Mushroom Red Series, this book offers a nice balance between photos, written text, and scale drawings.

    There are two main manufacturers in the world of Luftwaffe rotorcraft: Flettner and Focke Achgelis. Coverage of the Flettner vehicles includes the Fl 184, Fl 185, Fl 265, and the better-known Fl 282. All of these were small single seat rotorcraft, and the Fl 282 even managed to enter into limited operational service. Most notable, though, were the naval tests performed by the Fl 282, which demonstrated the value of helicopters in submarine detection.

    For the Focke Achgelis rotorcraft, these include some early autogyros like the Fw 19 and Fw 61, in addition to the impressive Fa 223 Drache. The latter, with its twin rotors and stalk-like landing gear, makes for a distinctive image. Like the Fl 282, the Fa 223 had limited operational status, and the final operations of the surviving aircraft make for some interesting stories as they tried to find the best possible situation with which to surrender.

    In addition to the informative text, there are plenty of photos and scale drawings (including a separate pull-out with drawings of the Fa 223 in 1/72). A section of color profiles is also included, making this a very complete reference on Luftwaffe rotorcraft. Now all I need to do is track down a Huma Drache.
  • Cybermodeler.com • 2010-02-23
    By Ray Mehlberger

    Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) latest book, in the Red Series, tells the story of autogyro and helicopter development in Germany in the 30’s and 40’s. This was when they were leading up to the first operational helicopters in military service. All prototype and experimental types are covered, and there is a detailed description of the development and use of the FL 265 and FL 282, FA 223 and FA 330. Post-war developments, based on German designs, are also described and illustrated.

    The book is in a 6 ½” x 9” soft-cover format. It is 104 pages long.

    It contains 104 black and white wartime photos, 14 1/72nd profile scale line drawings (two of which are three-views), 26 color profiles, an illustration of a German press pass that admitted newsmen to a demonstration of an autogyro and an illustration of a German postage stamp, issued in 1930 showing a TW61 helicopter on it. Included also are 25 color photos taken in museums (of the walk-around type).

    The icing on the cake, in this book, is a large folded page of line drawings inserted into the book. These drawings are to 1/72nd scale and show a three-view of a Focke Achgelis FA 233E and side profiles of the FA 233V-1 and V-51 versions.

    The technical problems involved in developing practical helicopters were studied and largely solved by German designers in the late 30’s and the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine used rotorcraft operationally in a variety of roles during WWII. This book describes the development and use of autogyros and helicopters in Germany up to 1945, plus the postwar use of German machines, and their influence on later helicopter designs in other countries.

    The author is one of the first Polish helicopter pilots trained in 1956. For many years a test pilot and senior instructor. He has lectured on helicopter theory and applications and is the author of many books and articles on rotorcraft. He is also Chairman of the Experimental Test Pilot’s Club and President of the Polish Aviation Senior’s Club.

    This is essential reading for all those interested in WWII military history, and for aero modelers. I know that there is both a 1/72nd scale and1/48th scale model, by HUMA, of the Fl 282 “Humming-bird” available. German designers were in the forefront of rotary-winged aircraft developments, and this is a compact and detailed description of their pioneering efforts.

    Forthcoming, this year, will be a new book “German Air Projects – Bombers” in MMP’s Red Series no. 5110.
  • HPM 6/2007 • 2010-02-23
  • Model Airplane International 8/2007 • 2010-02-23
  • Skrzydlata Polska • 2009-03-27

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