Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 Bachstelze (Wagtail)

45-sec launch and retrieval video
MPEG (20Mb)
AVI (41Mb)
The Fa-330 was one of several German "gyro-kites". It consisted of a seat and an un-powered overhead rotor. The pitch of the blades is such that as the wind strikes them they produce lift.

The intent of the Fa-330 was to permit it's launching from the conning tower of a moving U-boat attached to a cable. The cable would be let out until the Fa-330 had reached sufficient altitude to scan the horizon for merchant ships.

If time permitted, the pilot would be winched back aboard. In an emergency he could disconnect the tow-line in mid-air and either ride the Fa-330 down (it would descend in a controlled manner like an autogiro or a modern helicopter in "auto-rotation") or come down in a parachute. Perhaps the U-boat would get a chance to re-surface later and pluck him from the sea.

Friends have been kind enough to send me photos from the Deutches Museum in Munich and Science Museum at Swindon/Wroughton in England.

You'll find much more about the Fa-330 on these websites:

Since those photos at Pima were taken, I understand that that particular Fa-330 has been returned to Washington and is on display at the Udvar-Hazy facility.