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Autogiro Book Review

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review April 2010 Title Autogiro
Author W.J.G. Ord-Hume Publisher Mushroom Model Publications/Stratus
Published 2009 ISBN 978-83-89450-83-8
Format 320 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $89.00


Mushroom Model Publications is based in the UK. They have their books printed in Poland by Stratus in the English language. MMP now has a U.S. distributor for their books, located in Pennsylvania by the name of Casemate.

An autogyro, also known as gyroplane, gyrocopter, or rotaplane, is a type of rotocraft which utilizes an unpowered rotor in autorotation to develop lift, and an engine-powered propeller, similar to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, to provide thrust. While similar to a helicopter rotor in appearance, the autogyro's rotor must have air flowing up and through the rotor disc in order to generate rotation.

Invented by Juan de la Cierva to create an aircraft that could safely fly at slow speeds, the autogyro was first flown on 9 January 1923, at Cuatro Vientos Airfield in Madrid. De la Cierva's aircraft resembled the fixed-wing aircraft of the day, with a front-mounted engine and propeller in a tractor configuration to pull the aircraft through the air.

Late-model autogyros patterned after Dr. Igor Bensen's designs featured a rear-mounted engine and propeller in a pusher style. The term Autogyro was a trademark of the Cierva Autogyro Company and the term Gyrocopter was originally a trademark of Bensen Aircraft.

An autogyro is characterized by a free-spinning rotor that turns due to passage of air upwards through the rotor. The vertical component of the total aerodynamic reaction of the rotor gives lift to the vehicle, and sustains the autogyro in the air. A seperate propeller provides forward thrust as already said.

Whereas a helicopter works by forcing the rotor blades through the air, pushing air downwards, the aurtogyro rotor blade generates lift the in the way as a glider's wing, by changing the angle of the air as it moves upwards and backwards relative to the rotor blade. The free-spinning blades turn by auto-rotation, the rotor blades are angled so that they no only give lift, but the angle of the blades causes lift to accelerate the blade's rotation rate, until the rotor turns at a stable speed with the drag and thrust forces in balance.

This book tells of the development and types of aurtogyros that have been built over the years. It is a very therough coverage of this type of aircraft. The book is hard cover bound and is the first hard covered book that I have ever received from MMP. The largest amount of the books they publish are usually soft-cover bound. This book is done in 8 1/4" x 11 3/4" page format. It is 320 pages in length.

The book is profusely filled with black and white photos of many autogyros by various manufacturers. Over 300 in fact. The neatest one is on the back cover. It shows an autogyro about to land on the White House lawn. There are 84 black and white illustrations of autogyros. 65 of those are 3-views. The book includes 9 data charts.

This book will be of great interest to aviation historians and enthusiasts and also to modelers.

Highly recomended.

I want to thank Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) and Casemate for this review sample.