“The Enthusiasm Expressed by Our Industry Friends”

The US Army, the American Helicopter Industry, and Developing vtol Technology, 1950–1965

In: Vulcan
Adam GivensInstitute for the Study of War and Democracy, The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, LA, USA,

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This article analyzes the groundbreaking 1952 plan by US Army leadership to develop a sizeable cargo helicopter program in the face of interservice opposition. It examines the influence that decision had in the next decade on the Army, the helicopter industry, and vtol technology. The Army’s procurement of large helicopters that could transport soldiers and materiel was neither a fait accompli nor based on short-term needs. Rather, archival records reveal that the decision was based on long-range concerns about the postwar health of the helicopter industry, developing the state of the art, and fostering new doctrinal concepts. The procurement had long-term consequences. Helicopters became central to Army war planning, and the ground service’s needs dictated the next generation of helicopter designs. That technology made possible the revolutionary airmobility concept that the Army took into Vietnam and also led to a flourishing commercial helicopter field.

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