Military Wiki
XH-20 Little Henry
Role Experimental ramjet-rotor powered helicopter
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Aircraft
First flight 29 August 1947
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 2

The McDonnell XH-20 Little Henry was a 1940s American experimental lightweight helicopter designed and built by McDonnell Aircraft.[1]


The McDonnell Model 38 was a lightweight experimental helicopter sponsored by the United States Army Air Force to test the concept of using small ramjets at the tips of the rotor blades.[1] As a functional helicopter it was of simple open-frame steel-tube construction.[1] Allocated the military designation XH-20 the first of two first flew on the 29 August 1947.[1]

Although the XH-20 flew successfully the ramjets were noisy and burnt a large amount of fuel and plans to build a larger two-seat XH-29 were abandoned.


McDonnell Model 38 experimental lightweight helicopter, two built.[2]
McDonnell Model 79 a proposed two-seat development, cancelled.[3]


United States

Aircraft on display

XH-20 at the NMUSAF


Data from [1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m)
  • Height: 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
  • Empty weight: 290 lb (132 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × McDonnell Ramjets
  • Main rotor diameter: 20 ft (6.1 m)


  • Maximum speed: 50 mph (80 km/h; 43 kn)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "XH-20 Little Henry Research Helicopter". Boeing. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  2. Andrade 1979, p. 119
  3. Andrade 1979, p. 121
  • Andrade, John (1979). U.S.Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909. Midland Counties Publications. ISBN 0-904597-22-9. 

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