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Cierva C.30

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Title: Cierva C.30  
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Cierva C.30

Avro 671 Rota Mk 1 at Imperial War Museum, Duxford
Role Autogyro
Designer Juan de la Cierva
First flight 1933
Introduction 1934
Number built 148
Variants Cierva C.40

The Cierva C.30 was an autogiro designed by Juan de la Cierva and built under licence from the Cierva Autogiro Company by A V Roe & Co Ltd (Avro), Lioré-et-Olivier and Focke-Wulf.

Design and development

Before the experimental Cierva C.19 Mk V, autogiros had been controlled in the same way as fixed-wing aircraft, that is by deflecting the air flowing over moving surfaces such as ailerons, elevators and rudder. At the very low speeds encountered in autogiro flight, particularly during landing, these controls became ineffective. The experimental machine showed that the way forward was a tilting rotor hub fitted with a hanging stick extending to the pilot's cockpit with which he could change the rotor plane. This was known as direct control and was fitted to the C.30.[1] The production variant, called C.30A in England, was preceded by several development machines.

The first production design in the series was the C.30, a radial-engined autogiro with a three-blade, 37 ft (11.3 m) rotor mounted on an aft-leaning tripod, the control column extending into the rear of the two cockpits. The engine was the five-cylinder, 105 hp (78 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Genet Major I used in the C.19 series. The fabric-covered fuselage carried an unbraced tailplane, without elevators but with turned-up tips. The port side of the tailplane had an inverted aerofoil section to counter roll-axis torque produced by the propellor. As with most autogiros, a high vertical tail was precluded by the sagging resting rotor, so the dorsal fin was long and low, extending well aft of the tailplane like a fixed rudder and augmented by a ventral fin. The wide-track undercarriage had a pair of single, wire-braced legs and a small tail wheel was fitted. This model flew in April 1933. It was followed by four improved machines designated C.30P (P here for pre-production) which differed in having a four-legged pyramid rotor mounting and a reinforced undercarriage with three struts per side. The rotor could be folded rearwards for transport. The C.30P used the more powerful (140 hp, 104 kW) seven-cylinder Armstrong Siddeley Genet Major IA radial engine.

Avro 671 (Cierva C.30A) taxying for take-off at Rearsby Aerodrome in June 1951

The production model, called the C.30A by Avro, was built under licence in Britain, France and Germany and was similar to the C.30P. The main alteration was a further increase in undercarriage track with revised strutting, the uppermost leg having a pronounced knee with wire bracing. There was additional bracing to the tailplane and both it and the fin carried small movable trimming surfaces. Each licensee used nationally built engines and used slightly different names. In all, 143 production C.30s were built, making it by far the most numerous pre-war autogiro.

Between 1933 and 1936, de la Cierva used one C.30A (G-ACWF) to test his last contribution to autogiro development before his death in a DC-2 (fixed wing) crash in late 1936. To enable the aircraft to take off without forward ground travel, he produced the "Autodynamic" rotor head, which allowed the rotor to be spun up by the engine in the usual way but to higher than take-off r.p.m at zero rotor incidence and then to reach operational positive pitch suddenly enough to jump some 20 ft (6 m) upwards.

At least one of the RAF C.30As was in January 1935 on floats as a Sea Rota.[2]



Avro obtained the licence in 1934 and subsequently built 78 examples, under their model designation, fitted with an Armstrong Siddeley Genet Major IA (known in the RAF as the Civet 1) 7-cylinder radial engine producing 140 hp (100 kW). The first production C.30A was delivered in July 1934.


Twenty-five aircraft were built in France by Lioré-et-Olivier as the LeO C.301 with a 175 hp (130 kW) Salmson 9NE 9-cylinder radial engine.


Forty aircraft were built in Germany as the Focke-Wulf C 30 Heuschrecke (Grasshopper) with a 140 hp (105 kW) Siemens Sh 14A 7-cylinder radial engine.[3][4] (Fake)

Operational history

Of the 66 non-RAF aircraft built in the UK by Avro, 37 appeared at least for a while on the UK register.[1] Some (maybe a dozen) were sold abroad, but others were flown by wealthy enthusiasts and by flying clubs who offered autogiro training. By the end of the decade private flyers were moving back to the comforts and economies of fixed-wing aircraft and more C.30s moved abroad leaving the Autogiro Flying Club at London Air Park, Hanworth as the major UK user. 26 aircraft were directly exported by Avro. These went both to private owners and to foreign air forces who wish to investigate the autogiro's potential.

In 1934, one Spanish Navy C.30 piloted by Cierva landed on the Spanish Seaplane tender Dedalo anchored in Valencia harbor and later made a takeoff.[5]

In September 1935, five members of the Lithuanian Aero Club flew C.30A in the "air train" together with the glider Schneider Grunau Baby and the airplane de Havilland DH.60 Moth over the Baltic sea states: Kaunas, Riga, Tallinn, Helsinki.[6]

Twelve C.30A built by Avro for the Royal Air Force (RAF) entered service as the Avro 671 Rota Mk 1 (Serials K4230 to K4239 and K4296 & K4775). The twelve were delivered between 1934 to 1935. They equipped the School of Army Co-operation at RAF Old Sarum near Salisbury.

Many of the surviving civil aircraft were also taken into RAF service between 1939 and 1940. In 1940 they equipped 1448 Flt. at RAF Duxford. Later they equipped 529 Sqn. at RAF Halton on radar calibration work, disbanded in October 1945, the twelve survivors were sold on to civilian owners.

Most of these did not last long, although two were used for pilot rotary wing experience by Fairey in their Fairey Gyrodyne helicopter programme. Rota Towels kept one ex-RAF Rota airworthy G-AHTZ until an accident in 1958. G-ACUU, the Imperial War Museum's C.30A exhibit at Duxford had one of the longest active lives. It joined Air Service Training Ltd in 1934, was impressed (as Rota HM580) in 1942, serving with 529 Squadron and returning to civil use by G.S. Baker based at Birmingham's Elmdon airport with its original registration plus the nickname Billy Boy and was not withdrawn from use until 1960.


Powered by a 105 hp (78 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Genet Major I radial piston engine.
Improved model, powered by a 140 hp (104 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Genet Major IA radial piston engines
Main production model, powered by a 140 hp (104 kW) Armstrong Siddeley Genet Major IA radial piston engine.
Rota Mk I
RAF designation of the Cierva C.30A.
Lioré et Olivier LeO C-30
59 license built Cierva C.30, powered by 175 hp (130 kW) Salmson 9Ne engines, were supplied to the French Air Force and French Navy. All LeO C-30 autogiros were destroyed or capu[tured by German forces during the invasion of France in 1940.[7]
Lioré et Olivier LeO C-30S
Construction number 26 was completed as the sole C-30S.[7]
Lioré-et-Olivier LeO C-301
Improved C-30s with uprated Messier oleo-pneumatic shock absorbers, flotation devices to facilitate ditching at sea and tripod main rotor support. Six aircraft were delivered to the French Navy by early June 1940.[7]
Lioré et Olivier LeO C-302
Early autogiros suffered from relatively long take-off runs. To reduce the take-off length two C-301 aircraft were fitted with the equivalent of Cierva's "Jump" head allowing the aircraft to leap vertically after only a very short run. The C-302s were used extensively for testing rotor and undercarriage components but development was eventually abandoned in 1949/1950.[7]
Focke-Wulf C 30 Heuschrecke
(Heuschrecke (Grasshopper)): 40 aircraft built, each with a 140 hp (104 kW) Siemens Sh 14A 7-cylinder radial engine.

Aircraft on display

A C.30 on display at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida
  • Cierva C.30A LV-FBL is on display in Argentina.
  • Cierva C.30A SE-AFI is on display at the Aviodrome.
  • Cierva C.30A XVU.1-1 flyable reproduction with a Siemens engine is on display at Museo del Aire, Madrid.
United Kingdom
United States

Military operators

Spanish Republic
 United Kingdom
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Specifications (C.30A)



  1. ^ a b Jackson 1973, p. ?.
  2. ^ Thetford 1957, p. ?.
  3. ^ Orbis 1982-1985, p. ?.
  4. ^ Smith 1973, p. 94.
  5. ^ La Cierva and the Transportable Station of Naval Aeronautic (in Spanish)
  6. ^ Lithuanian Aviation History 1919-1940. Air train (in Lithuanian)
  7. ^ a b c d
  8. ^ Danish Air Museum


  • Jackson, A.J. British Civil Aircraft 1919-72: Volume II. London: Putnam and Company, 1973. ISBN 0-85177-813-5
  • Munson, Kenneth. Helicopters and other Rotorcraft since 1907 (Blandford Colour Series). London: Associate R.Ae.S., 1973. ISBN 0-7137-0610-4.
  • Pacco, John. "Cierva C-30A" Belgisch Leger/Armee Belge: Het militair Vliegwezen/l'Aeronautique militaire 1930-1940. Artselaar, Belgium, 2003, p. 92. ISBN 90-801136-6-2.
  • Smith, J. Richard. "C 30 Heuschrecke" Focke-Wulf, an Aircraft Album. London, Ian Allan, 1973. ISBN 0-7110-0425-0.
  • Thetford, Owen. Aircraft of the Royal Air Force 1919-57. London: Putnam and Company, 1957.

External links

  • Spanish reproduction maiden flight
  • IPMS Stockholm pages for the Cierva C.30 including detail photographs
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