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Help solve this mystery?

Stingray

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So our new neighbor is former DoD and Air Force, and with his permission I decided to share one of his stories here, which I found particularly fascinating for obvious reasons. :)

(Bear with me as he was deliberately vague on some details.) Back in 1981 he was setting up equipment on a large relay tower as a part of some weapon testing project. Sub story: he was once buzzed by an F-16 another time he was on one of these towers, much to his infuriation as he could've been blown off had it not been for his safety harness.

So anyway, as he was on this tower setting up equipment, he watched as a mysterious helicopter "thing" was rolled out of one of the hangars at the nearby base. He described it as resembling the Cobra (likely of the series with rounded cockpits, as he showed a picture of the much later AH-1Z for comparison), or perhaps it was a conversion of a Cobra airframe. It had large, forward-swept wings which lacked any visible weapons (he was unclear as to whether it lacked any hardpoints, however). The entire tail section contained what he described as some kind of "jet-assist," which I assumed to be a kind of NOTAR at first but the more he told the story it sounded more like a type of vectored thrust. The rotors were capable of being stowed into the fuselage for high-speed flight. Apparently it also had a conventional tail rotor, also capable of being stowed. To his surprise, and mine as he continued the story, it had Russian cyrillic markings on it.

He would watch this thing take off more than once at this testing range, in both helicopter mode and high-speed mode (rotors stowed), and it was incredibly fast (he compared it to the F-16 that buzzed him the other time). He would overhear conversations between the pilots and engineers, discussing the problems with the blades at certain speeds and whatnot. When he asked about the machine he was answered with the vague assertion of it being a "Soviet prototype" and that's all he was allowed to know.

I've been tirelessly searching my archives and various online databases for anything matching the description, but I can't find anything for the life of me. As skeptical as I am I began thinking that I might've been BSed into starting a hoax, but I discussed the machine with other people and its supposed Soviet origin, and I've been assured of the possibility as both the US and the Soviets had acquired each others hardware on several occasions for evaluation purposes.

So does anyone here on SPF have any idea as to what this machine was? I apologize if this falls under the unwanted UFO category, since I'm mostly going on hearsay, I just don't know where else to turn to help solve this mystery. Thanks.
 

riggerrob

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It is difficult to say exactly how much of your neighbor's story is true??????

NATO and WARSAW Pact engineers definitely sketched dozens of similar napkin Waffen helicopters with quiet rotors, variable diameter, folding rotors, etc. but few of them every made it off the drawing board and to the mock-up stage.
Even fewer ideas made it to the "Iron Bird" stage for ground tests.
A mere handful of prototypes flew and as your neighbor said: they suffered vibration or control problems.

Since the Soviets never bragged about many of their helicopter prototypes ..... it is even more mysterious for a prototype to go "missing."?????

Sometimes the worst revenge is allowing your enemies to steal a failed prototype and laugh as they waste millions of dollars trying to perfect it.
Hah!
Hah!
 

sublight is back

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Total baloney. Every ex Air Force I have ever met has felt the need to tell some ridiculous tall tale about something incredible they've seen that nobody else can substantiate. If it was even remotely real, it would have ended up at A51 like the "have donut" MIGs.

It looks like he saw the X-49 and decided to embellish. A lot....
 

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Stingray

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I know, I've had other experiences myself with ex-DoD/Air Force BSing me with such fantastic tales that don't seem to correlate with reality. I once had one of them join my forum a year ago, IIRC, asserting that the Kazan Turbodiskolet was a Russian answer to the uber-secret flying saucers that people think are AWACS antennas, etc. Needless to say he was banned rather quickly. That experience taught me ever since to be skeptical of other such tales from former military, though since I gave this one a chance, I suppose some tell tales more convincingly than others. :)

sublight is back said:
If it was even remotely real, it would have ended up at A51 like the "have donut" MIGs.

To be fair he didn't specify as to where this was happening exactly, but I won't bother speculating. Though had he mentioned a name like Area 51, I probably would've left the conversation, or at least have been a lot more skeptical than I was already.
 

hesham

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My dear Stingray,

maybe something like this Piasecki 16H-4 Pathfinder III.
 

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hesham

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Hi,

we must also note that,its speed was 426 km/h.
 

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Stingray

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I immediately thought of that as soon as he mentioned the Cobra shape and rear thrust. I compared a picture of the proposed Cobra using Piasecki's VTDP and he said it was very close, but it was not a ducted propeller, it was basically a jet engine. Seems sublight might be right about the X-49 connection (an exaggeration of it).
 

TomS

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Of course the X-49 didn't exist until 2007 so it's unlikely to be the source of a story from the 1980s, embellished or not.
 

hesham

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You meant like this.
 

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TomS

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Wondering if it could have been the S-72, which flew both with and without rotors. The timeframe is about right and it would be easy to be confused about the wing sweep from a distance.
 

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CiTrus90

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Sikorsky S-72, Lockheed AH-56 and mix everything with Clint Eastwood's Firefox ;)
 

Stingray

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Yeah, I thought of the S-72 as well. He claims the entire rear section encased this supposed jet engine (I'm guessing a design similar to the old Hughes SCAT LHX proposal). I'm pretty much concluding that he's just having fun at my expense.
 

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There's an idiot on the FB page Greatest Planes That Never Were who occasionally swears left and right he's seen the F-19 AND the "real" Talon from Stealth being tested.
 

Dynoman

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Stingray, your neighbors aircraft description sounds like the LHX SCAT concept helicopter below (except with rearward swept wings instead of forward). If such a vehicle existed it sounds like it could have been a scaled prototype/demonstrator or an RPV type aircraft that might have been developed in-house by Hughes/McDonnell. LHX technology development (ACAP) dates back before 1980. Hughes had NOTAR as far back as 1975, so the time frame would coinside with LHX pre-development activity.

From what I've read Hughes (who was partnered with McDonnell Douglas) was going to take an MD500 and replace the lower half of the fuselage with their LHX concept wing structure for testing. However, I've never seen pictures of it if it ever was developed (FlightGlobal had a small blurb on it). I too think the S-72 is a good match for the sighting.
 

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Stingray

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I still remain highly skeptical, but now that I think about it, I read somewhere (not sure if it was here or at SRF) that there is a rumor that Bell and McDD flew a tech demonstrator of their LHX design in the Nevada desert. Might've just been the AH-64 ACE (Advanced Cockpit Evaluator), but who knows, could be related in some way, though likely exaggerated.
 

Stingray

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I could but I don't feel like getting banned. I'm already regretting taking this as seriously as I have.
 

martinbayer

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Hello Stingray,

you could post it on your own Rotorcraft Forum in the Fake, Theoretical, and Speculative Projects category - that might advance the discussion a bit.

To me personally the stowable rotors are the biggest red flag.

Martin
 

riggerrob

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Stowable rotors are the biggest engineering hassle. Regular rotor blades are very thin and depend upon centrifugal force to stiffen them. Rotor cone angles relate more to ropes than fixed wing spars.
As soon as their rotation slows, individual rotor blades lose their stiffness and bend or vibrate or break.
That is why many rotor/wing hybrid mockups include low aspect ratio, small diameter rotors that are almost triangular. Triangular wings are great for supersonic flight (e.g. Mirage). OTOH triangular rotors have such miserable thrust to lift ratios that none of them have ever hovered.

One possible solution is a folding scimitar rotor, that can progressively reduce its diameter. Back during the 1990s there was a plastic scale model (1/35 or 1/48 scale) of a fictional
us helicopter with scimitar rotor blades.

Most of what I know about helicopters, I learned on the flight deck of HMCS Iroquois.
 

Stingray

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Okay, I have some major corrections to add to this story! We discussed the machine in more detail a few hours ago and I even sketched as he described it.

First off, the Soviet origin is likely to be total nonsense. He recalls paying closer attention to the odd setup rather than the markings so he admits that what he thought were cyrillic markings were probably a normal serial code in a odd font or something (lol). The "Soviet prototype" assertion was also likely to be just a joke/sarcasm from the person he talked to, as he admits.

The stowable-rotor thing is total nonsense, and I apologize as I misunderstood what he was describing the first time! I was under the impression he had seen it fly in different "modes" as well, but either he embellished that part or it was all a total misunderstanding from myself. We were on a lot of aerospace subjects that day, so perhaps they got jumbled together in my memory somehow. Either way, I apologize for that again. :-[

He continuously said the cockpit had a shape of the later Cobra series, yet the body was larger. So a lightbulb went on in my head and I sketched the basic shape of the Sikorsky S-67. He said it was almost dead on, aside from some key details. I even showed him some photos of the S-67 afterwards and he was insisting that that was basically what he saw (odd as this was in 1981/82 and the S-67 was destroyed in 1974). However, as I said, there were some key details missing: The machine he saw had jet nozzles at the end of the tail, which he said something about being able to change directions (he recalls being blasted by it as he was present during one of the ground tests). Behind the cockpit were large semi-circle intakes. The tail rotor was apparently a two-blade type, with one blade able to fold over the other in a rearward direction.


martinbayer said:
you could post it on your own Rotorcraft Forum in the Fake, Theoretical, and Speculative Projects category - that might advance the discussion a bit.

Done:
http://stingraysrotorforum.activeboard.com/t62520545/mystery-helicopter-sighting/
 

r16

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please take notice that ı have been encountered mocking claims made but unpressed by a major newspaper in Turkey that US deployed advanced stealth helicopters to support the coup attempt in Turkey . So this neighbour of yours started discussing it after July 15th ? What's wrong with the RAH-66 Comanche ? There was no air threat to talk about on the night , does the US really needs a super-duper copter to irritate people even more ?
 

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This is really intriguing. I immediately thought of the Superteam LHX and some form of prototype. That would be amazing!
 

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