08/31/2012. The Farfadet (Elf) was the first French convertible. It could takeoff vertically, hover in the air, land vertically by means of its rotor, and flew forward at a speed greater than that of pure helicopters by means of a fixed wing and an airscrew fully independent of the rotor, the transition was accomplished without any change at all in the external appearance.
The Farfadet was provided with two independent power units. In the rear was a 360 shp Turboméca Arrius II turboshaft, which supplied the jet rotor with compressed air at takeoff. The all-metal three-bladed rotor was identical with the one used in the S.O.1120 Ariel III, but with a larger diameter. In the front was 360 shp Turboméca Artouste II turboprop engine, operating a variable-pitch airscrew.
During forward flight, the rotor originally used for take-off continued to auto-rotate, but with low lift, and the greater part of the lift was transferred to the fixed wing. Mounted over the fixed wing was the pilot's cabin, fitted with dual control, and in this cabin there was room for either three passengers, a freight load or two stretchers stacked on top of each other.
The Farfadet first flight on May 8, 1953, lasted about twenty minutes, and was made as a true helicopter. On the following flight (Ray Watkins Collection), on the same day, the rotor and the airscrew were respectively powered by their individual engines. The sole Farfadet achieved its first transition from vertical to horizontal flight on July 1, 1953, and after it received its CofA it was reregistered F-BBGD, but it remained experimental.