YH-32 Hornet
Hiller YH-32 Hornet on display in Seattle's Museum of Flight
Role Experimental helicopter
Manufacturer Hiller Aircraft
First flight 1950
Introduction 1954
Primary users United States Army
United States Navy
Number built 18[1][2]

The Hiller YH-32 Hornet (company designation HJ-1) was an American ultralight helicopter built by Hiller Aircraft in the early 1950s. It was a small and unique design because it was powered by two Hiller 8RJ2B ramjet engines mounted on the rotor blade tips which weigh 13 lb (5.9 kg) each and deliver an equivalent of 45 hp (34 kW) for a total of 90 hp (67 kW).[3] Versions of the HJ-1 Hornet were built for the United States Army and the United States Navy in the early 1950s.

The Hiller Museum identifies the YH-32A, named the Sally Rand, as the first helicopter gunship.[citation needed]

Design and development

Hiller Hornet with litter attached in flight, 1951

The Hiller HJ-1 Hornet was an early attempt to build a jet-powered helicopter using ramjets. Before that there had been experiments with the XH-26 Jet Jeep tip rotor pulse jets. The HJ-1 ramjet tipped rotor propels the rotor and the aircraft. Unlike a conventional helicopter, this mechanically simple design avoids the need for a tail rotor.

Unfortunately, the tip speeds on helicopter rotor blades are subsonic, and ramjets are inefficient at subsonic speeds due to low compression ratio of the inlets. Therefore, the Hornet suffered from high fuel consumption and poor range. Also, the vehicle suffered from low translational speeds, and the ramjet tips were extremely noisy. In the event of power loss, autorotation was found to be difficult due to the drag from the ramjet nacelles.[4]

The vehicle exhibited powerful lifting capacity, and there was some hope for military uses, but the high noise, poor range, and high night-time visibility of the ramjet flames failed to attract sales.

Operational history

The HJ-1 was evaluated by the United States Army as the YH-32, and the United States Navy as the XHOE-1. In 1957 two YH-32s were modified as the YH-32A for trials as armed helicopters. All the fibreglass cockpit fairings were removed and the tail was modified. The tests were successful in proving the viability of the helicopter as a weapons platform, but due to marginal performance, no further conversions or orders were placed.[1] Also, versions were sent to the U.S. Army's DRC to be evaluated in one of their contests involving the research and development of a light weight, air droppable helicopter for air rescue and reconnaissance, and for a portable, easily put together, and fuel efficient 1 man observation and transport copter. It was competing against the Jet Jeep and its pulse jets. Overall the YH-32 won out over the Jet Jeep, but the concept was considered obsolete, and later the program was canceled.


Armed "Sally Rand" version on display at the Hiller Aviation Museum
Company designation, one prototype.[1]
United States Army, Similar to HJ-1 with two small v-shaped stabilizers, 14 built (2 prototypes and 12 production aircraft).[1]
Two YH-32s modified for trials as an armed helicopter.[5]
Three HJ-1s for evaluation by the United States Navy in 1951.[2]

Aircraft on display

On display at the Hiller Aviation Museum

Specifications (YH-32)

3-view line drawing of the Hiller YH-32 Hornet
3-view line drawing of the Hiller YH-32 Hornet

Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1958-59[16]

General characteristics


See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c d Andrade 1979, p. 121.
  2. ^ a b Andrade 1979, p. 195.
  3. ^ "H-32." Flight, 21 March 1958, p. 396.
  4. ^ "Tip-Jet Rotor Helicopters." Aerospaceweb.org, 14 September 2003. Retrieved: 30 January 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Hiller XHOE-1 Hornet". Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Hiller YH-32 Hornet, s/n 53-4663 USAF, c/n 2". Aerial Visuals. AerialVisuals.ca. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Airframe Dossier - HillerH-32 Hornet, s/n 55-4965 US Army". Aerial Visuals. AerialVisuals.ca. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Military and Civil Helicopters Displayed at American Heroes Airshow June 20". The Museum of Flight. The Museum of Flight. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  9. ^ Bogash, Robert. "Seattle Museum of Flight Restoration Center". Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  10. ^ "1956 Hiller Hornet". Fantasy of Flight. Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Airframe Dossier - HillerH-32 Hornet, s/n 55-4973 USAF, c/n 13, c/r NX125JC". Aerial Visuals. AerialVisuals.ca. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  12. ^ "FAA REGISTRY [N125JC]". Federal Aviation Administration. U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Hiller H-32 Hornet". Classic Rotors. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Airframe Dossier - Hiller YH-32 Hornet, c/n 15, c/r N3955". Aerial Visuals. AerialVisuals.ca. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Aircraft on Display". Hiller Aviation Museum. Hiller Aviation Museum. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  16. ^ Bridgman, Leonard, ed. (1958). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1958-59. London: Jane's All the World's Aircraft Publishing Co. Ltd. pp. 315–316.
  17. ^ Bridgman, Leonard, ed. (1958). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1958-59. London: Jane's All the World's Aircraft Publishing Co. Ltd. pp. 485–486.
  18. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". m-selig.ae.illinois.edu. Retrieved 16 April 2019.