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Air Force Museum Foundation

Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 Sandpiper


The Fa 330 rotary wing kite, built in Germany during World War II, operated on the principle of the autogyro. It provided an elevated observation platform for one man while being towed behind a surfaced submarine. While aloft, the pilot kept in contact with the submarine by telephone. 

The Fa 330  was attached to the submarine by a steel cable working from a winch on the deck. During a normal return to the sub, the winch wound in the cable until the Fa 330 was on the deck. There was an emergency procedure, however, by which the pilot could jettison the blades and rotor hub. When the rotor assembly separated, it automatically opened a parachute attached to both the machine and the pilot. The pilot then released his safety belt and the aircraft dropped into the sea, leaving the pilot descending alone by parachute.

The Fa 330 on display, one of very few in existence of the 200 constructed, was bought to the United States at the end of WWII.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
Rotor diameter: 24 ft.
Fuselage length: 14 ft. 7 in.
Height: 5 ft. 6 in.
Weight: 180 lbs.
Normal towing speed: 25 mph
Minimum towing speed: 17 mph
Rotor speed: 205 rpm
Maximum altitude: 720 ft. (on a 985-ft. tow cable)


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