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American Helicopter XH-26 Jet Jeep

21 November 2012

American Helicopter XH-26 Jet Jeep

The American Helicopter XH-26 Jet Jeep in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force — photo by Joseph May

American Helicopter designed the XH-26 Jet Jeep in the early 1950s to serve as an airborne Jeep, which could be towed by a Jeep and use the same fuel as a Jeep. Pulse jet engines at the rotor tips provided  power to turn the rotor with a small fan belt driven tail rotor which was used for directional control, not to counter the rotor torque as there was none. The pulse jets were extremely noisy, as was the case of the similarly designed Hiller Hornet, making its use in a combat zone unlikely much less a non combat zone. These pulse jets had the advantage of cold starting quite easily — the 300 pound (170kg) Jet Jeep could be air dropped and unpacked from its 5’ x 5′ x 14’ (1.5m x 1.5m x 4.2m) container in less than 20 minutes by two men. Once fueled, the two small engines could be started and have the Jet Jeep flying in less than half a minute. Noisy and expensive the XH-26 had a service ceiling of 7000 feet (2122m) and flew as quickly as 80 mph (128kph) and as far as 135 miles (216km) but disadvantages outweighed the Jet Jeep’s advantages.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has this fact sheet with additional photos for the XH-26 Jet Jeep.

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