Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute
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TsAGI centenary in the history of aviation:TsAGI 1-EA helicopter

15 August 2018

August 14, 1932 is a significant date in domestic aviation history. Eighty-six years ago, Alexey Cheryomukhin, the designer and pilot of the first helicopter TsAGI 1-EA set an unofficial altitude record flight at 605 meters. The figure far exceeded the best western achievement of that time: the Italian helicopter Ascanio rose to 18 meters off the ground. The TsAGI 1-EA duration of flight was also impressive −14 minutes.

The domestic science rotary-wing aircraft school was developed in TsAGI. A Helicopter Group, established within the TsAGI Experimental Aerodynamic Department, was engaged in theoretical and experimental research, as well as designing experienced helicopters and gyroplanes. Scientists carried out rotorary model tests with a screen, simulating ground surface, and also without the screen. All the characteristics were studied at hover mode and oblique flow. The rotors were carefully researched in autorotation mode at vertical descent and gliding flight.

The next step in the development of the helicopter industry was the establishment in 1928 of a ground installation to test major rotors in hover mode. The idea behind its development belonged to A.M. Cheryomukhin. The installation enabled research of aerodynamic characteristics of rotors, including the swashplate. The experiments were conducted in conditions of secrecy, so scientists worked under cover of night, despite the fact that it was winter.

The TsAGI Experimental Aerodynamic Department in 1927-1928 conducted numerous studies of rotary-wing aircraft of three elements. As a result, the scientists made a judgment on real possibilities of designing and construction a single-rotor helicopter.

They started to design an experimental model helicopter. The overall design authority was entrusted to Boris Yuriev, a N.E.Zhukovsky team-mate. Alexei Cheryomukhin was appointed to be responsible for design development and strength analysis. He had already had by that time the experience of participation in the construction of the first Soviet aircraft COMTA, development and launching wind tunnels T-1-2, etc.

The first domestic helicopter TsAGI 1-EA took to the air with two rotary engines, M-2, a four blade rigid rotor and four anti-torque rotors. The rotor was 11 meter in diameter and its four blades were of mixed construction with wood ribs and stringers, metal spars and linen covering. The blades had quite a sophisticated elliptical shape and perfect for that time aerodynamic configuration which could provide the helicopter high traction characteristics. The rotary-wing aircraft was equipped with tricycle landing gear with tail wheel, in aircraft fashion.

The maiden flight of the TsAGI 1-EA was in the summer of 1930. Cherjomukhin personally conducted all tests. By September, he had mastered various maneuvers and performed them at a height of 10-15 meters from the ground, and in the late autumn the helicopters was flown to 40-50 meters above the ground. The new aircraft with vertical capability served for many studies in 1930-1934. TsAGI scientists and designers were able to solve many specific problems, such as lack of sustainability, great vibrations, dangerous critical flight modes, lack of strength, etc. These were the first steps for Russia to become one of the leaders of the world helicopter industry.

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