INDEX OF NAVAL AIRCRAFT
|Sikorsky R-4B Hoverfly
In the spring of 1941 a prototype helicopter designed by Igor Sikorsky was performing well enough to warrant a contract being awarded to the Vought-Sikorsky division of United Aircraft for the development of a two-seat version, designated the XR-4. XR-4 had a covered fuselage, side-by-side seating and dual controls. The flying controls in the XR4 set the standard for all subsequent helicopters. The XR4 was re-engined in 1943 and called XR4C. Service trials with the YR-4A and YR-4B, including one from a tanker, resulted in the final variant, the R-4B.
The first flight of the new helicopter was made in January 1942, and
examples were produced. The R-4 recorded two firsts: it accomplished the first
helicopter landing aboard a ship, and the first rescue by a helicopter. Twenty-five R-4s
(under the designation HNS-1) were operated by the US Navy and US Coast Guard, and
52 R-4s were operated by the RAF and FAA.
The Hoverfly were delivered to 771 squadron at Twatt. Whilst with 771, FT836 reported fitted with pontoons for trials with HMS Furious in Scapa Flow. With 771 on July 1945 to Worthy Down. Another aircraft, FT839 was delivered to the Admiralty Signals Establishment Flight at Witley Park in March 1945. Some of the second batch were delivered to HMS Excellent Flight in January 1945.
The last of these aircraft, KK969, was still with 771 squadron in Portland in August 1948.
5 Sikorsky YR-4B Hoverfly I numbered T835-FT839.
First to RN: accepted 3.44 FT837 (ex 43-28232) and FT838 (ex 43-28223). (ex 42-1027246)
First Sqdn 771 sqdn Twatt.
45 Sikorsky R-4B Hoverfly I
Serial numbered KK969 – KL113. Mixed RAF and RN deliveries, the following to RN
Total RN: 19
First Accepted Bridgeport 6-11.44, first RNFS Floyd
Bennett Field 6.44, Norfolk, Va 12.44, Thane
29.12.44, RDU Abbottsinch c16.1.45, To 771 sqdn Twatt c late 1945
Others to Worthy Down 27.1.45, Admiralty Signals Flight , by early 1945,
Excellent Flt by 2.2.45, or to 7AAU Hooten Park 1.45 to HMS Excellent Fight
Last: Still with 771 Portland 8.48 KK969.
Battle Honours and Operational History
None with the FAA, however the US version the R-4 was first used in combat in May 1944. A few saw service during WWII, flying casevac missions in Burma. In a letter to a friend, Col. Philip G. Cochran, CO of the 1st Air Commando Group, wrote: "Today the 'egg-beater' went into action and the damn thing acted like it had good sense.".
Surviving aircraft and relics
At least three Hoverfly I exist in the world, one at the RAF Museum another at the National Naval Aviation Museum (USA) and the third with the CAF Ghost Squadron (USA). The RAF Museum example, Sikorsky VS-316 Hoverfly I KL110 is a former Fleet Air Arm aircraft.
The R-4B on display at the AFMF Museum was donated by the University of Illinois in 1967.
Associations and reunions