The Piasecki HRP Rescuer

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If there is a function in which the rotating wings have been able to completely supplant the fixed wings it is indeed the search and the rescue at sea. If we except the existence of the current plane like the Dassault Falcon 50M or the Lockheed- Martin HC-130J Super Hercules the majority of the missions are filled by helicopters. And it actually dates from the aftermath of the Second World War. It was at this time that the first real helicopter dedicated to search and rescue operations at sea was designed: the Piasecki HRP Rescuer.



The origins of this helicopter go back to the Second World War. In February 1944 the US Navy informed engineer Frank Piasecki that she was looking for a device for rescue missions at sea from the deck of its aircraft carriers. In addition the future helicopter had to be able to assure the transport of six equipped infantrymen. In fact, the American naval air craft sought to fill the deficiencies found on the Sikorsky HNS-1.



Piasecki decided to assign the future helicopter the manufacturer's designation of PV-3 while the US Navy awarded him the XHRP. The New York engineer had the idea of ​​developing his machine in the rather unexpected and at least revolutionary form of a tandem birotor. For the rest in a very classic way at the time it took the form of an interlacing of steel tubes inside which took place the pilot but also the passengers.
Especially he thought of installing on his PV-3 a mechanical winch, similar to those that fitted then the trucks of the US Army. This time the equipment was to allow the descent and the ascent of a diver and a victim. Unlike the HNS-1, the XHRP winch was independent of the helicopter engine.

It is in bare configuration, ie without external cover, that the Piasecki PV-3 made its first flight on March 6, 1945. Two weeks later the prototype was given to the US Navy who studied it and the tried in his turn. A second prototype was ordered for various static tests. The end of hostilities in Europe and then in the Pacific marked a form of stopping in the program without canceling it. Finally it was not until December 1945 that an order was placed for twenty copies known as HRP-1, called Rescuer. These were not bare but covered with stretched canvas and plywood.


The first copies of the Piasecki HRP-1 Rescuer entered service in August 1947 in the US Navy. As early as October, two copies were delivered to the brand new HMX-1 squadron of the US Marines Corps. Unlike what exists today, this unit was not responsible for presidential transport but simply for helicopter tests. It was under the livery of the Marines that the HRP-1 Rescuer made its only armed flights, using a 7.7mm mobile machine gun firing through a porthole. An attempt that ended in failure, never the US Navy adopting this weapon. It was also at this time that the American media started talking about "flying bananas" about these strange helicopters. A nickname that would follow all the helicopters twin tandem to the current Boeing-Vertol CH-47 Chinook.

And fast flying bananas would carve out a reputation of outstanding rescuers. So much so that the US Navy decided to buy a second batch of helicopters, under the designation HRP-2 and with a metal cladding. In the American naval aviation, these birotors provided both security on board aircraft carriers and ground missions, including liaison and assault.

But in early 1948 the US Navy sold three of its Rescuer to the US Coast Guard which gave them the designation of Piasecki HRP-1G. The first two were assigned to CGAS Elizabeth City on the east coast while the third joined CGAS San Diego in California. And in this last base the birotor in tandem never seemed to impress the coasties. It was different on the Atlantic coast where these helicopters saved between them 51 lives during their first year of operational service.


Finally, the US Coast Guard separated from its three Piasecki HRP-1G in the course of the year 1952, for the benefit of Sikorsky HO4S-2G (rightly) judged much more modern and versatile. It was the same year that of the US Navy. Five of his HRP-1s and two of his HRP-2 were then delivered to the HMX-1 squadron to reinforce the Marine Corps. These flew under these colors until 1954.

Never exported the Piasecki HRP Rescuer allowed despite recurring lack of flexibility to Americans to clear the field of military helicopters flight searches and rescues at sea. This device was the basis for a much more successful aircraft: the HUP Retriever.


Specifications : 

Wingspan : 12.50 m diameter of each rotor.
Length : 16.46 m
Height : 4.52 m
Engine : 1 star motor Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN1
Total power : 1 x 608 hp
Armament : none
Payload: Two or three wounded
Empty weight : 3279 kg
Max speed : 160 km / h at sea level
Practical ceiling: 2550 m
Range : 475 Km at maximum load.
Crew: 3




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