The Hughes XH-17
All over the world, people have always aimed to develop larger and larger aircraft for various purposes. Whether it was the H4 Hercules or the Caspian Sea monster, every couple of years you will find a new aircraft that is set to beat the previous record for the world’s largest.
Built by the Hughes Aircraft Company
But sometimes, old is truly gold. We present to you the Hughes XH-17. This monster of a helicopter was built all the way back in 1952 by the Hughes Aircraft Company, and it still holds the world record for a helicopter with the largest rotor system. Here’s a peek into the statistics of this helicopter. The double-bladed rotor system has a massive diameter of 41 meters. In 1953 the gigantic helicopter flew with a gross weight in excess of 50,000 pounds (23,000 kg).
The Rotor System Project
In order to try to preserve this record held by the XH-17, a project was undertaken to fly this rotor system again. Due to the shortage on time, parts were used from various aircraft and put together instead of manufacturing original parts for the XH-17. Here is where it gets very interesting. The fuel tank was taken from the B-29 Superfortress. The wheels were taken from two different aircraft! The front wheels were taken from the B-25 Mitchell, and the rear ones were used from the C-54 Skymaster. Even the cockpit of the Waco CG-15 was used.
Scrapped in 1955
The entire construction of the XH-17 is unique. Two General Electric J35 turbojet engines were used in the helicopter in order to send it up to the air and spin the rotor. This is aside from the fact that the rotor blades are enormous, and there are also a number of other curious components that have been used to make this helicopter.
Unfortunately the XH 17 was too bulky and inefficient and only one was built, it was scrapped in 1955.