Sunday, March 15, 2015

Vrtulnik VR-3

At the end of WW II three largely complete Focke Achgelis Fa 223s (production models S52 through S54) were found by the Red Army at the Berlin-Tempelhof production line. These nearly complete helicopters were delivered to the Soviet LII for completion. One completed Fa 223 was handed over to Bratukhin OKB in light of that units experience with similarly configured helicopters. Nothing further is known as to its fate.

The other two were handed over to the Czechs. Development of these helicopters was headed by Jaroslav Slechta, who had acquired know-how during his Totaleinsatz (compulsory assignment by the Nazis) in Halle, Germany. (Note: The information about Jaroslav Slechta is in question at this time). By the autumn of 1947 these two prototypes had been completed at the Avia Factory in Cakovice near Prague, under the designation VR-1 (Vrtulnik or Helicopter Design 1) although this was subsequently changed to VR-3.

The first prototype, the VR3-1 made an initial ten minute flight on 12 March 1948. At the controls was the Avia test pilot, Frantiek Janca. As he had no previous rotary wing experience, he was sent on a training course with H. Osterman, A.B. in Stockholm where, between 18 December 1947 and 31 January 1948, he logged 40 flights in two Bell 47s (SE-HAB and SE-HAC) running up a total flight time of 24 hours 35 minutes.

After demonstrations by the VR3-1 for representatives of National Security, the first passenger flight was made on 30 April, followed by a further series of demonstration flights before organizations likely to be interested in the type, such as the Czechoslovakian and Yugoslavian Air Forces as well as this one before a Bulgarian delegation at the Dimitrov factory at Letnany. By 4 July the VR3-1 had logged 14 hours 16 minutes flying time. It was joined in the test program on the following day by the second prototype, the VR3-2, coded V-25, which made an initial flight of twelve minutes duration.

Shortly after making its first night flight on 7 July from Cakovice to Kbely, the VR3-1 was taken over by the Czechoslovakian Air Police and registered OK-BZX. A number of useful missions were performed by their pilot, Major Nemecek, including Colorado Beetle spraying! It crashed in 1949 following an engine failure near Tyn nad Vltavou.

The VR 3-2 was coded V-25 and was intended for long term testing by the Aeronautical Research Institute at Letnany but crashed in 1949 at the Military Academy in Hradeck Kralove.With the crash of the VR3-2 the same year, development of the VR-3, which had provided much useful experience, was abandoned.

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