NHI H-3 Kolibrie

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NHI H-3 Kolibrie
NHI H-3 Kolibrie PH-NHI AMS 14.03.67 edited-2.jpg
The seventh Kolibrie (manufacturers number 3007) on display at the Aviodrome museum at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, in 1967. Actually registered PH-NGV, it wears 'PH-NHI' markings.
Role Helicopter
Manufacturer Nederlandse Helikopter Industrie

The NHI H-3 Kolibrie (Dutch for "Hummingbird") was a small helicopter developed in the Netherlands in the 1950s by Nederlandse Helikopter Industrie.


The H-3 was a two seat general purpose helicopter. It has a duraluminium tube superstructure, an open cockpit and an undergear of metal skids. The design is distinctive because it is ramjet powered. Two ramjets, one at the tip of each rotor blade, power the helicopter. The small tail rotor is powered by the motion of the main rotor. The ramjets could run at any given fuel, which gave the helicopter a certain versatility.

The ramjets made a complex engine and gear box unnecessary. Kromhout designed and built the ramjets. Each engine generated 20 kg thrust. The last models had an improved engine, built by Aviolanda, generating 23 kg thrust.

In order to start the ramjets, a small 2 hp auxiliary power unit set the main rotor in motion. At a rotor-speed of 70 rpm, the ramjets were to be ignited.

Variants with ski’s, floating devices and medical evacuation stretchers were developed and tested, but these versions were never produced. A version as crop duster was developed, and in due time, the H-3 was mainly marketed as crop dusting helicopter.


The H-3 was assembled at Aviolanda. Subassembly took place at Aviolanda which built the fuselage and at Kromhout which built the engines. Fokker, a subcontractor to NHI, built the rotorblades. Final assembly took place at the newly opened Rotterdam Airport.

The initial production run counted ten helicopters of which the first three were used for development, testing and airworthiness tests. The second production run of ten helicopters was undertaken by Aviolanda after Kromhout left the joint venture. This second production run was to be equipped with an uprated ramjet. It is unsure whether the improved ramjet was ever produced.

Commercial failure[edit]

Although the H-3 was considered to be technical success, it never was a commercial success. Despite its low acquisition price, the project became a failure. Several factors contributed to this failure. Firstly, the Hiller OH-23 Raven was provided to the Royal Netherlands Air Force by the United States free of charge, under the Mutual Defense Assistance Pact (MDAP). Secondly, NHI's two most important designers, Jan M. Drees and Gerard F. Verhage, left the company, which never recovered. Thirdly, the ramjets, at the tips of the rotorblades, required a great deal of development to make them acceptable for production, with potential buyers regarding the ramjets as unsafe. Fourthly, the extraordinary fuel consumption of the two ramjets made the helicopter uneconomical to operate, flight time and flight range were quite limited making the helicopter unattractive for commercial or military use.

Production list[edit]

Overall, nine H-3’s were built between 1958 and 1959 by NHI at Rotterdam Airport when Kromhout was still a parent company. After Kromhout left, Aviolanda built another two H-3’s at their Papendrecht plant.

The few production models were mainly exported to Israel, Germany, the UK and Netherlands New Guinea. A few models stayed in the Netherlands.


The remains that are known of, are to be found at the aerospace museum Aviodrome. Aviodrome has one H-2 and one H-3 on display.

Specifications (H-3 Kolibrie)[edit]

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1961–62[1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 1
  • Length: 4.32 m (14 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 2.75 m (9 ft 0 in)
  • Empty weight: 276 kg (608 lb)
  • Gross weight: 650 kg (1,433 lb) [2]
  • Max takeoff weight: 700 kg (1,543 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 400 L (88 Imp Gallons)
  • Powerplant: 2 × NHI TJ-5 ramjet, 0.23 kN (51 lbf) thrust each
  • Main rotor diameter: 9.95 m (32 ft 8 in)
  • Main rotor area: 79.2 m2 (853 sq ft)


  • Maximum speed: 116 km/h (72 mph; 63 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 100 km/h (62 mph; 54 kn)
  • Range: 75 km (47 mi; 40 nmi)
  • Endurance: 65 min
  • Service ceiling: 1,600 m (5,200 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 3.5 m/s (680 ft/min)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Taylor 1961, p. 117.
  2. ^ Apostolo 1984, p. 124.
  • Taylor, John W. R. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1961–62. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company, 1961.
  • Apostolo, Giorgio. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Helicopters. New York: Bonanza Books, 1984. ISBN 0-517-439352.