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The Sudenkorento 

by Dave Bailey

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Silly Week 2007

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The 1960s were a turbulent era, and Finland was no exception. A generation was coming to political power composed of those who had fought valiantly against Soviet forces in the 40s, and the sight of Russian aircraft in use with the Finnish military was a little galling to these veterans. A resurgence of national pride swelled up, and thoughts of equipping themselves with home grown solutions was tempting.

It was decided that a good start would be with a helicopter. The Finns have always been a practical people, and starting an aviation industry with a fighter or any high performance aircraft was not deemed sensible. A helicopter however would be not only utilitarian for all military branches, but could have civilian applications as well.

The problem was that there was no aircraft industry that was up to even this task. But a few hours spent in a boat gave a civil servant a brainstorm as he fiddled in his tackle box and saw an aerodynamic shape cradled in his fingers. Accordingly they decided to approach a well known manufacturer which had a reputation for craftsmanship and world wide recognition Rapala. A name was chosen - Sudenkorento, the Finnish word for Dragonfly.

Some spare engines were requisitioned and work commenced on a large engine module which would sit on top of the airframe and be essentially self-contained, with a few conduits for controls and fuel supply. This would allow for rapid changes in the event of a breakdown, with spare modules kept available for such occasions.

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The fuselage itself was typically Rapala, even down to the diving lip under the nose. This was used to support a large and very powerful radar system with a very wide scanning area. Various aerials were arranged as on the famous lures, and retained the loop shape which kept them compact. A sonobuoy could be also carried externally and winched down as needed.

The program was not completely trouble free however. Considerable money and effort was lost when a miscommunication at one of the production facilities resulted in the construction of a unit based on the jointed Rapala design, which promptly flailed itself apart before even attaining its first take-off.

Dave

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Photos and text by Dave Bailey, aka The Rat

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