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Comet Sikorsky R-6 Helicopter Kit Number E-9
Rotorspan: 80"

[IMAGE Sikorsky R-6 Helicopter

The Sikorsky R-6 was an American-built light two-seat helicopter of the 1940s. In Royal Air Force and Royal Navy service, it was named the Hoverfly II

Development

The R-6 Hoverfly II was developed to improve on the successful Sikorsky R-4. In order to enhance performance a completely new streamlined fuselage was designed and the boom carrying the tail rotor was lengthened and straightened. The main rotor and transmission system of the R-4 was retained. Sikorsky allotted their Model 49 designation to the new design. Later, dynamically balanced modifications to the rotor were carried out by Doman Helicopters Inc. The new aircraft could attain 100 mph compared with 82 mph by the earlier design.

Initial production was by Sikorsky, but most examples were built by Nash-Kelvinator. Some of the later aircraft were fitted with more powerful engines.

[IMAGE Operational history

The first R-6s were delivered to the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in late 1944 and some were transferred to the United States Navy (USN). It was initially intended to pass 150 R-6s to the Royal Air Force (RAF), but delays caused by the switch of production from Sikorsky's factory at Stratford, Connecticut to Nash-Kelvinator at Detroit Michigan meant that only 27 R-6As were actually delivered to the RAF as the Hoverfly II. 15 of these were passed on to the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA).

Kalvinator was a refrigerator factory that was pressed into war service to build some sikorsky helicopters -When a shortage in nuts and bolts happened the managment would raid the nearest hardware store-The deviation would come to light when the pilots would pick up the Refrigarotors or Kalvincopters and the bolts replaced-Fly safe,

[IMAGE Some of the RAF examples were allotted to 657 Squadron RAF for proving the use of helicopters in the Army Co-operation role, and two external stretchers could be fitted to the fuselage. 657 Squadron operated their Hoverfly IIs as Air Observation Posts, spotting for Army artillery units. The Hoverfly IIs remained in operation until April 1951, and one squadron example was displayed at the September 1950 Farnborough Air Show.

The FAA used their Hoverfly IIs in the training and liaison roles. Naval units to use the type included 771 Squadron from December 1945, followed by 705 Squadron.

The USAAF operated their R-6s in secondary roles and the survivors were redesignated H-6A in 1948. The USN examples were designated the HOS-1 and a further 64 were intended to be transferred from the USAAF, but this did not take place.

Disposals of surplus military Model 49s were made in the civil market in the late 1940s but none now remain in operation. Four are currently displayed in US museums.

Ordered in 1943, the Sikorsky XR-6 prototype (43-47955) made its maiden flight on 15 October 1943. As its manufacturer's designation indicated, it was essentially a refined and developed version of the R-4, and the same rotor and transmission system was used in both types. A 225hp Lycoming O-435-7 engine provided the power, and the fuselage was transformed into a highly streamlined, metal-skinned unit with a one-piece moulded plexiglas cabin for the 2 crew members.

[IMAGE On a March 1944 the XR-6 set new helicopter distance, endurance and altitude records when it made a non-stop flight of 623km from Washington, D.C, to Dayton, Ohio, in 4 hr. 55 min, climbing to 1524m over the Allegheny Mountains en route. The XR-6 was followed by five 2-seat service test XR-6A's for the USAAF and U.S. Navy, built by Sikorsky with 240hp Franklin O-405-9 engines, and twenty-six generally similar pre-production YR-6A's built by the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation.

The latter company also carried out the production of the one hundred and ninety-three R-6A's built from 1945. Thirty-six of these were delivered to the U.S. Navy as the HOS-1, and formed the equipment of that service's first helicopter squadron, which commissioned in July 1946. Forty R-6A's were supplied to Britain under Lend-Lease, these being named Hoverfly II in British service. Fifteen of them were allocated to the Fleet Air Arm for communications and training in 1946; others served with No.657 (AOP) Squadron RAF and the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment. Like the R-4, the R-6 could be fitted with pontoons as an alternative to a wheeled landing gear, and was employed on a variety of duties including air/sea rescue, casualty evacuation and observation. Its career was, however, a short one: it was frequently beset by engine difficulties, and soon gave way to the more reliable R-5 and its derivatives. A proposed Lycoming-powered R-6B version by Nash-Kelvinator was cancelled.

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