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Jet Gyrodyne
Fairey Jet Gyrodyne-1.jpg
Role Experimental gyrodyne
National origin United Kingdom
Manufacturer Fairey Aviation
First flight January 1954 (free flight)
1 March 1955 (transition flight)
Retired 1961
Number built 1
Developed from Fairey FB-1 Gyrodyne
Variants Fairey Rotodyne

The Fairey Jet Gyrodyne was a British experimental compound autogyro built by the Fairey Aviation Company that incorporated helicopter, gyrodyne and autogyro characteristics. The Jet Gyrodyne was the subject of a Ministry of Supply (MoS) research contract to gather data for the follow-up design, the Rotodyne.

Design and developmentEdit

The Jet Gyrodyne was a modification of the second prototype FB-1 Gyrodyne aircraft registered G-AJJP. The Jet Gyrodyne was built specifically to develop the pressure-jet rotor drive system and operational procedures used on the later Rotodyne.

The Jet Gyrodyne utilised the fuselage, undercarriage and engine of the FB-1 Gyrodyne. The Alvis Leonides nine-cylinder radial engine was situated in the middle of the fuselage and drove a pusher propeller at the tip of each stub wing and two Rolls-Royce Merlin engine superchargers. The original three-blade tilting hub rotor system was replaced by a two-blade rotor controlled with swashplate-actuated cyclic and collective pitch controls. An empennage provided the necessary stabilization about the pitch and yaw axes.

For takeoff, landing, and low-speed flight, the rotor was driven by air delivered by the superchargers and burnt with fuel in blade-tip mounted pressure-jets. This zero-torque rotor drive did not require a compensating anti-torque system, though the collective pitch of the wingtip-mounted propellers was controlled by the rudder pedals to provide yaw control. As airspeed was gained, the rotor drive system was shut down, allowing the rotor to autorotate while the propellers provided the necessary thrust. For low-speed flight and landing, the rotor drive system was restarted to provide hovering capability.

Operational historyEdit

Tethered flights at White Waltham were followed by the first free flight in January 1954, but a full transition from helicopter to autogyro flight was not achieved until March 1955, piloted by John N. Dennis. System proving continued and by September 1956, 190 transitions and 140 autorotative landings had been completed. Development of inflight rotor drive restart procedure resulted in several power-off autorotational landings until the method was perfected. The Jet Gyrodyne was underpowered and could carry sufficient fuel for only 15 minutes of flight; on occasion external fuel tanks were carried to increase endurance.

The Jet Gyrodyne was retired once ground testing of the Rotodyne rotor drive system commenced.

Aircraft on displayEdit

Fairey Jet Gyrodyne XJ389 Cosford 28.11.81 edited-2

The Fairey Jet Gyrodyne preserved at the RAF Museum at RAF Cosford in 1981

Although scheduled for scrapping in 1961, the Jet Gyrodyne (serial number XD759 later XJ389) survived and today is displayed at the Museum of Berkshire Aviation, on loan from the RAF Museum collection.

Specifications (Jet Gyrodyne)Edit

Data from British Aircraft Director[1]

General characteristics
  • Length: 25 ft (7.6 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 51 ft 9 in (15.8 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 2 in (3.10 m)
  • Empty weight: 3,600 lb (1,600 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 4,800 lb (2,200 kg)
  • Powerplant:
    • 2 × wingtip compressed air/fuel burning, () each
    • 1 × Alvis Leonides 9-cylinder radial engine, ()
      • Propellers: 3-bladed propeller, 2 per engine


  • Maximum speed: 140 mph (120 kn, 224 km/h)

See alsoEdit



  1. "Fairey Gyrodyne". British Aircraft Directory. 13 August 2006. "Fairey Gyrodyne." British Aircraft Directory. Retrieved: 18 August 2006.


  • Charnov, Dr. Bruce H. The Fairey Rotodyne: An Idea Whose Time Has Come – Again? (Based on Charnov, Dr. Bruce H. From Autogiro to Gyroplane: The Amazing Survival of an Aviation Technology. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 2003. ISBN 978-1-56720-503-9.) Detailed History Retrieved: 18 May 2007.
  • Green, William and Gerald Pollinger. The Observer's Book of Aircraft, 1958 edition. London: Fredrick Warne & Co. Ltd., 1958.
  • Taylor, H.A. Fairey Aircraft since 1915. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1974. ISBN 0-87021-208-7.
  • Winchester, Jim, ed. "Fairey Rotodyne." Concept Aircraft (The Aviation Factfile). Rochester, Kent, UK: Grange Books plc, 2005. ISBN 1-84013-809-2.

External linksEdit

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