Citroen Developed a Cool Wankel-Powered Helicopter in the 70s

Citroen RE-2 Helicopter 6 photos
Photo: Citroen
Citroen RE-2 HelicopterCitroen RE-2 HelicopterCitroen RE-2 HelicopterCitroen RE-2 HelicopterCitroen RE-2 Helicopter
Citroen made the Hydropneumatic suspension famous, it designed the gorgeous DS, to this day one of the best looking cars ever, and innovated with the swiveling headlights. But did you know that in the 70s, the French actually built a 2-seater helicopter.
It was called the RE-2 and probably the best thing about it was its Wankel engine, producing between 170 and 190 hp, depending on fuel and setup. The engine was the same as in the GS Birotor car introduced in 1973, an ill-fated but innovative project with only 850 units sold. However, the helicopter used larger rotors and a fuel injection system.

Weighing 700 kilograms (1543 lbs) when empty, it could reach a top speed of 205 km/h (127 mph) and had a maximum range of 430 km (267 miles).

The idea of the RE-2 was to compete with the American-made Bell 47, which was widely used in France. Citroen wanted to diversify its business and manufacture something that would be used as a marketing tool as well.

Work began in 1973 and only two years later, the first prototype was airborne. After many months of development, the RE-2 obtained a temporary flight permit from the French government. Eventually, Citroen stopped rotary engine development and with 38 test flight our, their helicopter project was also scrapped. The machine made its last flight in May 1979, after which it was sent for display to the Citroen museum.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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