Thin $^4$He films adsorbed to weakly attractive substrates form nearly 2D layers. We describe the vortices in 2D superfluid $^4$He like quasiparticles. With the aid of a variational many-body calculation we estimate their inertial mass and describe their interactions with the $^4$He particles and other vortices. Third sound measurements revealed anomalous behavior below the BKT-phase transition temperature. We ascribe this to the sound mode traveling in the fluid of vortex-antivortex pairs. These pairs forms a crystal (or liquid crystal) when the film thickness increases, the third sound mode splits into two separate modes as seen in experiments. Our many-body calculation predicts the critical density, at which the phase transition into the vortex-antivortex state at zero temperature occurs. We also describe the phase diagram of thin $^4$He films.
This is a pre-print. It is also available at: http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/9605203.