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Sikorsky VS-316A Hoverfly (R-4B)

The R-4, the world’s first production helicopter, set the standards for all subsequent helicopters.

The XR-4 was developed from the VS-300 helicopter invented by Igor Sikorsky, successful flight tests in 1942 resulted in the production of 133 new R-4’s.  

The first R-4 to see combat was in Burma in the spring of 1944.  A liaison plane crash landed behind enemy lines injuring its occupants.  An R-4 was used to rescue the men, flying them out one by one.  This was the first recorded helicopter rescue.  

The mission was so successful the R-4 flew eighteen more missions within a few days.  

The R-4, sometimes referred to as “The Egg Beater” was also the first helicopter to land on a ship at sea, the USS Bunker Hill, CV-17.  

By 1952 Army helicopters, had a collective unbeatable record 400,000 hours without a crash due to mechanical failure.

Service History

  • Delivered: August 23, 1944
  • Aug 1944 - 2139th AAF Base Unit (ATC) Freeman AAF, IN
  • Dec 1944 - 3502th AAF Base Unit Tech Training School, Chanute AAF, IL
  • May 1945 - 3706th AAF Base Unit (TTS, ATC), Sheppard AAF, TX
  • Stricken: May 1945
MFG: Sikorsky

First Produced: 1942

Powerplant: Warner R-550

Horsepower: 200 lbs

Service Ceiling: 8,000 ft

Cruise: 65 mph

Top Speed: 75 mph

Range: 130 miles

Empty Weight: 2,020 lbs

Gross Weight: 2,535 lbs

Rotor Diameter: 38’

Length: 33’7”

Height: 12’5”

Armament: None

Number Built: 133 total

This R-4B was obtained by Yanks in March of 1990, and awaits restoration.