An even larger helicopter

A couple of days ago I put up a video clip showing the Mil Mi-26, the biggest production helicopter in the world.  I mentioned at the time that the only bigger helicopter had been the Mil V-12, of which two prototypes were built in the 1960’s, but which never went into production.

Mil V-12 prototype at Groningen in the Netherlands, 1971 (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

I’ve discovered on YouTube this video clip of the V-12 in flight, along with a narrated history.  Out of sheer aviation nostalgia, I decided to put it up too.  Remember, as you watch, that one of the V-12’s design goals was to lower huge intercontinental ballistic missiles into their silos in remote territory where cranes couldn’t go, and to shuttle them around the country when necessary.  Its cabin was sized accordingly.  Designed to carry up to 33 US (short) tons (50% more than the Mi-26), it actually lifted 44 US tons successfully during one record attempt – twice the freight capacity of a Lockheed C-130 Hercules!  It’s about as long and as high as a current-production stretched Boeing 737-800, with a much greater cargo capacity.  When fully loaded, it usually took off after a forward run, much like a fixed-wing aircraft, using either a taxiway or a runway.

That’s a hulking great brute of a helicopter, isn’t it?  More information and photographs may be found here and here.



  1. IIRC it was Expense. I remember reading an article many years ago about this helicopter and about how it cost I think 8 to 11 times more than the next smaller helicopter. Plus it cost several thousands of rubles per flight hour in fuel and maintenance.

    I would have loved to go for a ride in one though. It is definitely a piece of aviation history.

  2. Yo Dawg! I heard you like helicopters, so I put helicopters on your helicopter, so you can hover while you hover!

    Sorry, had to make the obvious joke. That thing looks like someone welded MI-8's onto the wings of a cargo aircraft.

    I could see Larry Correia putting something like that into an MHI sequel.

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