Check This Crazy Confederate ‘Copter!

While the old, reliable war tactics of horse-riding and open field combat were utilized in the 1860’s, the advent of the repeating rifle was brand, spanking new to warfare and deemed to be frommmmm thhhheee fuuuutureeeeee… But that wasn’t the only new piece of high-tech in the era, as the Confederacy were deep into plans for creating their own helicopter.  You read that correct: A CIVIL WAR ERA HELICOPTER! Now that would have been something new and innovative; contrasting from the old-fashioned practice of an “unpaid, disrespected workforce.” Wink, wink.  

This airship was designed and developed by engineer William C. Powers of Mobile, Alabama, and was intended to be used to hover over the Union army and beat them to a bloody pulp since the Confederate ships wouldn’t be able to carry out a similar task.  Similar to Leonardo Da Vinci conceptual drawings, four Archimedian screws would have been necessary to give the plane lift and thrust, as well as a rudder because, well, for steering the airship.

HOWEVER, there were some issues that prevented this project from coming into fruition. One of which was the lack of an understanding of how aerodynamics work, and another being the lack of an engine that would have enough power to lift the aircraft from the ground. Wow, the South couldn’t even get the ‘copter to “rise” even once. Wink, wink. Essentially, the Confederate helicopter never made it past the model, and both it and the plans are now at the National Air and Space Museum (link below).

[Thanks to The National Air and Space Museum via Slate]

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