Early helicopters it seems were deployed by the American military in WW2 in the Burma and China theatres, and in the South Pacific.

Their principal use would appear to have been small scale rescue operations in difficult-to-reach terrain.

You would think that Europe also offered moderately difficult terrain in Italy, Yugoslavia and the Greek islands. Is there a reason the American military didn't use helicopters in those areas?

  • 3
    there was no big US campaign in the balkans or Greece.
    – jwenting
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 19:53

2 Answers 2


I think the two main reason why the early helicopters were tested in the Pacific were:

  1. The European theater had more and better roads, so jeeps were quite on par with the new unproven technology.

  2. The Germans had better AA facilities.

Remember, that these helicopters should be considered a "proof of technological capability" more than "production deployment".


This might be because the U.S. was heavily focused in the Pacific and not as much as in the European Theater. The U.S needed areas for supply and airplanes that had high fuel capacity and long travel times were perfect and were station in parts of Europe (Britain especially). However helicopters didn't have a high speed and needed to be refueled more frequently then the airplanes. Thus ships near the coastal Pacific delivered the helicopters. Ships couldn't get as close the the european borders as the Pacific.

  • 5
    and the Germans up until the very end had more efficient AAA than the Japanese ever had.
    – jwenting
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 16:03
  • 1
    I would upvote this if it included reference/citations.
    – MCW
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 17:58
  • 1
    The Pacific had more islands, Europe had more runways/roads. Also, implicit with most early-phase technology, it was simply not widely available as an option.
    – MarkHu
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 19:20
  • 1
    and the R4 wasn't exactly effective. Small, unreliable, slow. Nice for short hops to medevac one or two guys from an island (faster than a landing craft from the beach), but slower for most practical purposes than a jeep to a field hospital.
    – jwenting
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 19:52
  • @Young Guilo The Americans were not more focused on Asia-pacific than on Europe. But the R4 helicopters were really more useful for medevac on Burma than in open, flat North-Western Europe Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 12:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.