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Mil V-12 (Homer) Heavy-Lift Transport Helicopter Prototype (1968)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 10/7/2015

Only two prototypes emerged from the Soviet-era V-12 twin-rotor heavy-lift helicopter program sponsored by the Mil Design Bureau.

Picture of Mil V-12 (Homer)
The Mil V-12 was a massive heavy-lift helicopter project taken on by the Soviet Union during the Cold War - even today (2015), it remains the largest helicopter ever built. Known in the Soviet Union under project "Izdeliye 65" and to NATO under the codename of "Homer", V-12 saw its first flight - an unsuccessful "hop" - in June of 1967 (its first successful test flight came a year later). Despite the promising nature of this large beast, particularly in the scope of Soviet military transportation service, the V-12 was not to be - cancelled after just a pair of prototypes had been completed.

Work on the V-12 began as early as 1959 when thought was given to a large transport helicopter to move upwards of 55,000 lb of cargo - men, machines, supplies, and particularly Soviet ICBMs ("InterContinental Ballistic Missiles"). The charge fell to the famous Soviet helicopter concern, Mil Design Bureau, whose engineers elected for a "transverse" rotor system arrangement - the main rotors fitted outboard of wing assemblies as opposed to an inline format (as in the Boeing CH-47 Chinook). The dual main rotors were also used to cancel the naturally occurring torque effect seen in single-rotor helicopters which negated the use of a tail rotor. Mockups and small-scale testing ensued into the mid-1960s to prove certain design aspects viable. Two paired Soloviev D-25VF turboshaft engines (four engines in all) were selected to power the helicopter and these engines each drove five-bladed main rotors while also providing the needed forward thrust for horizontal flight.

The finalized fuselage was streamlined in its general shape with a twin-deck approach, the primary flight deck being fitted at the nose of the aircraft for two pilots and two engineers while a secondary deck was sat over the nose housing a navigator and radioman. The fuselage took on a tubular shape from nose to tail with the tail being raised to allow for easier access to the cargo hold by way of clamshell doors. The empennage consisted of a sole vertical tail fin with low-set horizontal planes. To each of these horizontal planes were added vertical tail fins - though much smaller in overall dimension than the primary tail fin. The wing mainplanes were fitted over the fuselage spine near amidships and held dihedral (upward angle) from centerline. At their ends were the engine pairings (under) and main rotor assemblies (over). The undercarriage was fixed in place though wheeled, the main legs (double-wheeled) situated under the wings via a network of struts and the nose leg under the forward fuselage with a double-wheeled arrangement. The helicopter carried the AP-44 autopilot system and ROZ-1 navigational radar.

Internally, the cargo hold was to match that of the large Antonov An-22 ("Antei") strategic airlifter to an extent. It could seat 196 passengers if equipped as such or carry up to 88,000 lb of goods under maximum loads including military-grade wheeled vehicles or a mixed cargo set. Dimensions of the aircraft included a length of 37 meters, a wingspan of 67 meters, and a height of 12.5 meters. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) reached 231,485 lb.

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Specifications for the
Mil V-12 (Homer)
Heavy-Lift Transport Helicopter Prototype

Focus Model: Mil V-12 (Homer)
Country of Origin: Soviet Union
Manufacturer: Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant - Soviet Union
Initial Year of Service: 1968
Production Total: 2

Crew: 6

Length: 121.39 ft (37 m)
Width: 219.82 ft (67.00 m)
Height: 41.01ft (12.50 m)
Weight (Empty): 152,339 lb (69,100 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 231,485 lb (105,000 kg)

Powerplant: 4 x Soloviev D-25VF turboshaft engines developing 6,500 shaft horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 162 mph (260 kmh; 140 kts)
Maximum Range: 621 miles (1,000 km)
Service Ceiling: 11,483 ft (3,500 m; 2.2 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet-per-minute (0 m/min)

Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:

V-12 - Prototype Designation; two examples completed.

Mi-12 - Proposed production model designation

V-16 - Proposed "super-heavy" variant; fitted with 6 x Soloviev D-25VF engines.

Mi-16 - Expected production model designation of V-16 prototype.

Mi-12M - Modified/improved V-16; fitted with 2 x Soloviev D-30V turboshaft engines driving 6-bladed main rotors.

Soviet Union