The Focke-Achgelis Fa 330

1942: The Fa 330 was a towed gyroplane used by Hitlers submarines during World War II. The small engineless single seat gyroplane had a three bladed hinged rotor on a tubular structure with tail surfaces. The gyroplane was towed by a submarine by cable with a length between 60-150m (200-490ft.).

The Fa 330 was stored in the sub when not in use. The rotor was folded and neatly tucked away. When a submarine was running on the surface the gyroplane would be assembled and launched to perform surveillance for the sub.

So why would this little contraption be so historic? During this period of history submarines on both sides were making havoc of vital shipping. All major players in WWII were exploring ways to protect or kill the dangerous submarines. The gyroplane was looked at by all bu Germany was the only country to actually try something and that was with the Fa 330. Germany latter started to outfit ships with helicopters in the form of the Flettner Fl 282 Kolobri. Niether aircraft played a major role in the war but it was the first maritime use of either aircraft type in a wartime role.

Because of this German ingenuity the British developed a similar version of the Fa 330 known as the Rotachute. After the war the rotachute was the aircraft which Dr. Igor B. Benson got his passion for gyroplanes. Igor took data collected from the Rotachute to develop his first gyroplane the Bensen B-1. More Bensen gyroplanes have been built than either Cierva or Pitcairn autogiros.

In operation, the Fa 330 deployed high above the submarine would keep a look out as a sailor in a crows nest. This period of running top water made the submarine very vulnerable but was needed to charge batteries and the subs at the time ran faster on the water than in it. If activity was spotted the pilot of the gyroplane would call the submarine with the report via a communication cable linked between the submarine and gyroplane. To date, no other gyroplane has been openly used in a theater of combat again.

Special Thanks to Malcom (UK) for the use of this video. USA, LLC