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American Helicopter Co XA-8 / XH-26



A 1950 Army specification called for a light, collapsible machine which could be used as both a light observation craft and as an air-droppable rescue vehicle for downed aircrew. American Helicopter responded with the Model XA-8 single-seat lightweight helicopter, design of which began in 1951 with the sponsorship of both the Army Transportation Corps and the USAF. American Helicopter was awarded a development contract in June 1951, and the first of a total of five XH-26s flew for the first time in June 1952.



The XH-26 was designed from the beginning to be both collapsible and air-droppable and its construction and size reflected both requirements. Twelve feet long and six feet tall, the helicopter could be transported in a five foot by five foot by fourteen foot container and could be unpacked and assembled by two men in less than thirty minutes. The machine's fuselage was built primarily of aluminum and fiberglass and featured a glazed, pyramid-shaped cockpit. The XH-26 was powered by two pulse-jet engines, one fixed to the tip of each main rotor blade, and could burn virtually any type of fuel.

The Army and Air Force jointly evaluated the five XH-26 prototypes from 1952 to 1954 but neither service procured the type in quantity.



American Helicopter H-26
Engine: 2 x American Helicopter XPJ49-AH-3 7.5 in pulse-jets, 16.2kg
Main rotor diameter: 8.23m / 27 ft
Rotors: 2-blade, tip-powered main; 2-blade tail.
Fuselage length: 3.73m
Height: 1.88m
Empty weight: 135kg
MAUW: 1,040 lb.
Max speed: 130km/h / 80 mph
Cruising speed: 110km/h
Service ceiling: 2280m
Range: 160km / 105 miles at 70 mph with normal load
Crew: 1






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