February 2015

2015 FebruaryWestland CL.20 Autogiro

Westland CL.20 Autogiro First flight: February 8, 1935 In the mid 1930s, Westland undertook to build two autogiro prototypes for Cierva. The C-29, a five seat cabin machine, powered by a 600 hp (450 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Panther, was completed and commenced ground running in 1934. From the outset it ran into severe vibration and onset of ground resonance. It never flew and was abandoned in 1936. The CL-20 (Cierva & LePere) was a smaller two seat cabin machine powered by a 90 hp (67 kW) Pobjoy Niagara. It was built during the same period and flew for the first time on February 8, 1935. It completed about 8 hours flying, some of which was done by Cierva himself. Again vibration levels were high. Westland ceased working on the two projects, due in part because a solution to the rotor dynamic problems was proving difficult, as well as the death of Cierva in 1936. The clear indications that war in Europe was a possibility meant that there were also higher priorities. This was however an indication that there was an interest in rotorcraft at Yeovil that would emerge ten years later.

(AgustaWestland photo; text by David Gibbings)

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