Published On: Fri, Nov 30th, 2012

Flying Monster

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3581647426_5a60c6ed20_o (Copy)┬áThe aeroplane look-alike you see in these pictures should never be mistaken for an actual aeroplane. This is a helicopter! To be more specific, the biggest helicopter ever to have been built in the world. It is recognized as the ‘Mil V-12′ with a NATO reporting name ‘Homer’. For those who have only seen normal copters buzzing about in the earth’s troposphere, it would be difficult to imagine the magnitudes of this mighty heavy-lift copter. The V-12 stands apart from the rest in terms of its payload and its physical make-up. The story behind is even more interesting than its technicalities. The Soviet regime was well known for its military brawns and brains during its good times. Immense were its contributions to this field in terms of inventions and military girth. The Soviets were known to have been very up to date when it comes to showing off their combative weaponry. We car lovers can click with a mentality like that, can’t we? The V-12 was born into this family of military copters a few decades ago. It was manufactured in the Mil Helicopter plant in the Lyubertsy District near Moscow. The copters designed in this facility always carry the first name ‘Mil’, after first prototype flew successfully on 10th July, 1968 from the Mil plant to a test flight facility in Lyubertsy. Unbeatable records were set henceforth by this copter. On February 1969 it carried 31,030 kilograms to an altitude of 9682 feet. Next, on 6th August 1969, it lifted 44,205 kilograms to an altitude of 7398 feet. This is a record which still stands, unbroken and glorious. It also made a stellar performance in the the founder Mikhail Leontyevich Mil. (The plant still exists today.)

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The first prototype of the V-12 commenced production in 1965. In 27th June, 1967 the first prototype went for its first lift-off. Unfortunately, this maiden attempt ended in failure. The V-12 experienced an abrupt touchdown on a single wheel, which resulted in a burst tire and a bent wheel disk. The Western media found this as an opportunity to measure up to the long-standing ‘beef’ they had with the Soviets. They reported this incident as a fatal accident, quite magnifying the V-12′s poor fate on the testing grounds. If someone said that failure is the stepping stone to success, this was quite true for the V-12 the next time it went for a test flight. Its first prototype flew successfully on 10th July, 1968 from the Mil plant to a test flight facility in Lyubertsy. Unbeatable records were set henceforth by this copter. On February 1969 it carried 31,030 kilograms to an altitude of 9682 feet. Next, on 6th August 1969, it lifted 44,205 kilograms to an altitude of 7398 feet. This is a record which still stands, unbroken and glorious. It also made a stellar performance in the Paris Autoshow in 1971. Though the second prototype laid in wait for its engines after its completion in 1972, the next year it went its test flight too. Undoubtedly the V-12 made itself go down in the history of air force. A gem that still glows in the skies of Europe. Let’s get down to the technical details of the V-12 now. It sure has an awesome backgrounder, but its body design and output add to its uniqueness. The Mil facility has built the V-12 using a two-rotor transverse system, the first attempt in this style by the facility. This eliminates the need for a tail rotor, which is normally seen in other copters. On the wings of either side, rotors are attached with a slight overlap. Each rotor is powered by Soloviev D-25 VF turbines with an output of a whooping 5,500 bhp! The total output of this mammoth’s engines adds up to 22,000 horsepower! The body magnitudes are thus: 37 metres long body, 35 metres long rotors, payload upto 105,000 kilograms and seating capacity for six persons. It can accelerate upto 260 kph and can fly upto 500 kilometres without halt.

 

After reading this far, haven’t you noticed that this seems like an account from decades ago? This is because the V-12 went out of production right after it tasted success on the test runways. After the first two prototypes, no more V-12s were built. The Russian Air Force later declared that there was no use of it anymore. The Soviet missile strategies had entered a new phase by that time. Missiles started proving to be disappointing, rapid deployment of missiles were no longer followed and the design of more V-12s seemed quite expensive. By 1974, the Soviets decided to stop all development on this heavy-lift helicopter. The V-12 presently leads a life of a museum show piece. The first prototype remains in the Mil Helicopter Plant in Panki-Tomilino in its native birthplace Lyubertsy District. The second prototype was donated to Monimo Air Force Museum near Moscow where it is kept on public display. Nonetheless, the low flight life did not undermine the credit that it has received. The American Helicopter Society awarded the prestigious Sikorsky Prize to the V-12. This copter is still spectacular enough that any air force pilot may sing odes to it.

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