An Illustrated History of Their Impact

by Stanley S. McGowen


In the recent Iraq war, the world saw coalition helicopters provide firepower and supplies, maneuver in both deserts and cities, facilitate rescues, and transfer wounded soldiers to hospitals in minutes. At one time, many military planners unbelievably dismissed helicopters as too expensive, too vulnerable, and too impractical.

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Cover image for Helicopters

May 2005


Pages 351
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Military History/Military Technology and Weapons
  • Hardcover



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    Hardcover: £73.00/79,00€/A$121.00

First envisioned by Leonardo da Vinci and first deployed in World War II, the helicopter is now a universal icon of modern warfare, a key component of combat planning around the world, and one of the military's most versatile and effective tools.

Helicopters: An Illustrated History of Their Impact covers the development of helicopters from a concept in Leonardo daVinci's mind to the first successful machines in the early 1900s to the latest tilt-rotor designs. Time and again, in a story of constant innovation, designers answered the concerns of military planners with more maneuverable, more capable rotorcraft.

With expert analysis and specific details of every significant model ever used, Helicopters shows how these once denigrated machines became essential to a variety of missions (reconnaissance, transport, attack, support, evacuation, urban combat, quick strikes behind enemy lines, and more). In addition, the book looks at the impact of rotorcraft beyond the military, including their ever-widening role in emergency medical care, police work, traffic control, agriculture, news reporting, and more.


  • Approximately 70 photographs of helicopter models, including a number taken in combat situations
  • Glossary of terms unique to rotorcraft, including autorotation, translating tendency, and dihedral roll


  • Brings together in one concise volume significant details of all major helicopter models—information previously scattered across a variety of sources
  • Looks at nonmilitary applications of helicopters originally developed for military use, including their role in policing, medicine, farming, travel, and more
  • Includes brief biographies of the world's most important helicopter designers and firsthand accounts of test pilots and aviators flying helicopters in combat
Author Info

Stanley S. McGowen, PhD, is adjunct professor of military history at Columbia College, Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, TX. Dr. McGowen is a Vietnam veteran and an Army aviator with over 5,000 hours of flying helicopters. His published works include Horse Sweat and Powder Smoke: The First Texas Cavalry in the Civil War, which won the Summerfield G. Roberts Writing Award for the best book about Texas and Texans in the Civil War.



"Black-and-white photographs of numerous helicopter models flesh out this extensively researched, at times technical survey that nonetheless will appeal to non-specialist general readers and military aviation history scholars alike."—Wisconsin Bookwatch

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