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.