Mil MI-6 Hook had its first flight was in 1957, and was the largest helicopter produced until the Mil Mi-26 entered production in 1980.
Cold War, the inspiration for epic and unique war machines. Born in the 1950s, the Mi-6 represents a large, heavy transport helicopter system capable of carrying large payloads over long distances. Its first flight was in 1957, and was the largest helicopter produced until the Mil Mi-26 entered production in 1980.
Mi-6 has established many firsts: it was the first Soviet turbine powered helicopter to enter in production, and for several years the largest, both for its size and for its load capacity. The birth of the Mi-6 stemmed from a common military-civilian requirement for a very large vertical-lift aircraft, which could be used to add mobility in military operations as well as assist in the exploration and development of the expansive central and eastern regions of the USSR.
The design of the Mi-6 was typical of Soviet-era helicopters. The all-metal semi-monocoque fuselage consists of four sections: the nose, central, tail and tip beams. Materials used are mainly duralumin, aluminum alloys, magnesium alloys, titanium alloys and high-strength steel. In the extensively glazed nose section of conical shape there is the the crew’s cabin that usually comprised, in addition to the pilot in command: a co-pilot, a navigator accommodated in the most advanced position, an engineer and a radio operator.
Large wings were high-mounted to each side of the fuselage. These wings provide approximately 20% of the lift required during cruise flight. The empennage ran from the top of the fuselage and tapered off into a thick vertical tail fin. On the vertical tail fin was mounted a four-bladed tail rotor. There were a pair of smallish horizontal planes at the base of the tailfin. The engines were set above the passenger cabin and aft of the flight deck. The main rotor was affixed atop the airframe aft of the engine compartments and sat close to the fuselage.
The Mi-6 was by far the world’s largest helicopter when it was designed in 1954–56; with a maximum load capacity of 12,000 kg. It was also the world’s fastest helicopter; with a top speed of 300 km/h. In its early days, the Mi-6 set many world records, including one for sheer circuit speed at 340 km/h. As of 2013, the Mi-6 still holds the FAI record of fastest 5-tonne lift over 1,000 km, in which it flew 284 km/h in 1962.
From 1959 to 1972 at least 500 units were built for various general-transport, utility, firefighting and flying-crane duties, the last two sub-types not being fitted with the large fixed wings, which in other versions bear part of the lift in cruising flight and thus enable higher speeds to be attained.
The Mi-6 seats 65 armed troops and can alternatively carry 41 stretcher patients and two attendants, or a wide range of bulky loads, including vehicles, loaded through rear clamshell doors. In exercises, fleets of these aircraft have airlifted many kinds of weapons, including FROG-7 rockets on their PT-76 tracked chassis, as well as large radars and heavy artillery. All Soviet armoured personnel carriers, armoured cars and light mechanised infantry combat vehicles can be carried.
Her rugged qualities assured her active duty in the far-reaching areas of the Siberian territories and, despite her Cold War roots, she still maintains an active military presence in world air arms – a testament to her design and general usefulness. The Russians retired the type themselves in 2002 as age began creeping into the maintainability and operational costs of this fine rotary aircraft. On July 10, 2002 a tragic accident occurred in the Taymyr Peninsula. In that accident which involved aircraft registered RA-21074 on behalf of a geological expedition 21 people lost their lives (5 crew man and 16 passengers).