The World War 2 period (1939-1945) saw extensive advances in the fields of both turbojet and helicopter flight - both having major implications on the remaining wars of the 20th Century. For the latter, the United States joined other world powers in attempting to develop viable rotorcraft systems. Its first helicopter to take flight became the Sikorsky "VS-300" which made it to the air by tether in 1939 and achieved true, solo flight the following year. This achievement was then joined by a second helicopter design to take to the skies in America, the Piasecki "PV-2" technology demonstrator which appeared in 1943.
The aircraft took on a most simplistic form, housing the basic components required including a two-seat windowed cockpit, engine, and support systems. The cockpit was set at the front of the strangely-shaped fuselage which included a fixed wheeled undercarriage and an overhead, three-bladed, balanced main rotor system. The rotor was driven by a single Franklin 4AC-199 4-cylinder, horizontally-opposed piston engine developing 90 horsepower and this arrangement also powered a small, two-bladed rigid tail rotor unit at the rear (a "tension-torsion" pitch system being used).
Dimensions of the completed craft included a running length of 21.5 feet and a rotor diameter of 24.10 feet. Performance specifications for the PV-2 included a maximum speed of 100 miles-per-hour and a range out to 150 miles.
Like other early rotorcraft, the Piasecki PV-2 was hugely instrumental in advancing rotorcraft technology for the United States, allowing the country to take its place at the forefront of the field for decades to come - a dominance still had thanks to Sikorsky and Bell. Piasecki would go on to gain even more fame through its tandem-rotor developments that began with the transport-minded "HRP" of 1945 - twenty-eight were produced with introduction occurring in 1947.
The sole PV-2 constructed achieved its first-flight on April 11th, 1943 and, after its flying days had ended, eventually found its way as a showpiece with the Udvar-Hazy Center outside of Washington, D.C. where it can be seen today.
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