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Mil Mi-12

(World's Largest Helicopter)

YouTube - Mil Mi-12

Primary Function:
Rotor Diameter:
Weight Empty:
Max. Weight:
Cruise Speed:
Max. Speed:
Climb Rate:
First Flight:

4- 5,645 shp ea.
121 ft. 4 in.
41 ft.
2- 114 ft. 10 in.
152,020 lbs.
231,412 lbs.
55,000 lbs.
132 mph
163 mph
1,720 fpm
11,482 feet
627 miles

Mil Mi-12

Mil Mi-12
Click on the picture to hear the wav sound.

The Mil Mi-12 (V 12) is the largest helicopter ever to fly. It first flew on July 10, 1968.

The helicopter is the creation of Mikhall Mil, who some consider among the world's best designers of rotorcraft. The Mil Mi-12 is his most ambitious creation.  It is bigger than a Boeing 727 airliner.  Fully loaded it is as heavy as nine large helicopter gunships. Everything about the Mil Mi-12 is enormous. The twin rotor giant rotorcraft shattered every record for helicopter payload, and made every previous helicopter produced seem toy-like.

Two prototype Mil Mi-12 aircraft were built. They never met design specifications and the program was canceled. One aircraft remains on display in Russia. The second is said to be at the Leontjewitsch Mil plant in Lyubertsy-Panki.

The helicopter features two-rotors mounted to a wing on top of the fuselage. This is the only example of such a system ever used by Mil, and rare for any relatively modern helicopter. A tail rotor is not necessary for aircraft control, and thus eliminated in the design.  The D-25 turboshaft engines driving the rotors are also used on other large Mil helicopters.

The helicopter uses wings to support its weight while flying. Their unique design made their outboard portions wider than where the wings met the airframe.  Trailing edge flaps were used initially, but were later fixed in place.

The Mil Mi-12 has a fuselage and tail unit similar to a fixed wing transport. Its flight crew of six consists of a pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, electronics operator, navigator, and radio operator. The cargo hold measuring 92 ft. (28.15 m) by 14 1/2 ft. (4.4 m) is be able to handle different loads, including troops or handling crews.  Rear clamshell doors and a ramp facilitate large cargo loading.  Passengers and smaller cargo can be loaded through a side door.  Inside the fuselage are four cargo winches and a reinforced floor to handle heavy loads. Optional ferry tanks can be carried inside of the helicopter to increase range.

The flight controls of the Mil Mi-12 are hydraulically operated, but the helicopter can also be operated manually. Flying is done with the aid of an auto stabilization system. A ground mapping radar is fitted under the helicopter's nose. Fuel is carried in two external tanks as well as the outer wing structure. The large central vertical stabilizer of the helicopter provides stability in forward flight. It is supplemented by two smaller outboard tail fins.

Production of the Mil Mi-12 commenced in 1965 with its first prototype. In 1969 the helicopter set a number of payload to altitude records.  However the problems of operating such a large helicopter were also large.  A major cause of the helicopter's problems was the engine and wing being suspended with complex bracing to the fuselage. Engine vibrations carried through the bracing to the fuselage and undercarriage could not be overcome.

The first helicopter built was damaged in a crash in 1967, caused by resonance and control systems problems. The second Mil Mi-12 produced made its highly acclaimed first public appearance at the Paris Air Show. However, it rarely flew again.

Reference Sources:

Aviation's Most Wanted by Steven A. Ruffin - June 24, 2005
Military Helicopter Doctrines of the Major Powers by Matthew Allen - May 30, 1993
Mastering the Sky by James P. Harrison - Oct. 1, 2000
Principles of Helicopter Aerodynamics by J. G. Leishman - Dec. 23, 2002

Mil Mi-12
Mil Mi-12 in flight.

Mil Mi-12
Mil Mi-12 from below.

Mil Mi-12
Mil Mi-12 from side.

Suggested Reading:
Helicopter by John A. Drake
Safe and Easy RC Helicopters by Nighthawk Publishing
Model RC helicopter Aerobatics by Ray Hostetler
RC Helicopters by Nick Papillon
Flying helicopters by David Day
Flying model airplanes and radio control helicopters by Edward L. Safford
The Basics of helicopters by Paul Tradelius
RC helicopter from the editors of Model Airplane News

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