December 2014

2014 DecemberCierva W.11 Air Horse

The end of World War II coincided with the emergence of the helicopter as a practical vehicle. The Cierva Company was reformed by G & J Weir to take advantage of the helicopter’s unique capability in the post-war civil market. The flagship project was to be the W-11 Air Horse, a large 24 seat transport helicopter with a complex, arrangement of three rotors, powered by a single 1620 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 24 and a total weight of 17,498 lb. It was the largest helicopter in the world at the time.

Two prototypes were ordered, built by Cunliffe-Owen at Southampton, the first of which flew for the first time in December 1947. The program was supported by Government funding with the second aircraft ready to fly by the end of 1950. The Air Horse was demonstrated at the SBAC Show at Farnborough in 1949, but crashed and was destroyed on June 13, 1950, killing the crew of three, including H A Marsh one of the most prominent rotorcraft test pilots of his time. At the time of the crash the second aircraft was ready for flight, but never flew after development was abandoned.

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