Mil Mi-8 (Hip) Multirole Medium Helicopter
Use of the Mil Mi-8 Hip was worldwide with the type being utilized in its military and civilian guises.
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Numbering well over 12,000 production examples, the Mil Mi-8 (NATO reporting name of "Hip") can be viewed as one of the most successful helicopter designs of all time. It has seen use as a passenger transport, troop transport, vip transport, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, assault, artillery spotter and airborne command post throughout its tenure with the various nations that have purchased the aircraft. Even today, the Mi-8 remains in use as an operational-level instrument in many of the air forces and army groups that have seen value in the type. As of this writing, production continues despite some 42 years since the first Mi-8 rolled off of the assembly lines at the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant - then under the Soviet banner.
The Mi-8 was developed as a replacement for the Mi-4 "Hound", a piston-engined transport helicopter appearing in 1953 that could seat up to fourteen personnel. Utilizing some of the successful internal workings of the Mi-4, the new Mil design featured a single Soloviev turboshaft engine of 2,700 shaft horsepower mated to an all-new enlarged fuselage. The prototype took on the name of Mi-8 ("Hip-A") and achieved first flight on July 9th, 1961. Follow-up developmental testing soon revealed the design to lack in power and, as such, the single engine idea was dropped in favor of a twin-engined design featuring two Isotov TV2 turboshaft engines. A five-blade main rotor was also used in this revision which produced the second prototype, first flying on September 17th, 1962. Minor revisions followed and the Mi-8 was fully introduced in Soviet Air Force service sometime in 1967. The initial production versions all fell under the NATO designation of "Hip-C" and constituted the base militarized model and a civilian model (noted for its square windows instead of round). Since then, the Hip series has been expanded to include a plethora of upgraded and specially-designed versions.
Externally, the Mi-8 maintains a most utilitarian look about her. She sports a low-slung front crew area with extensive glazing that offers up excellent views from the cockpit. Immediately to the cockpit's rear is the spacious crew cabin with side-mounted sliding doors. On most versions, the tricycle undercarriage is static (one such Hip offered a retractable undercarriage) which adds to the types distinct look. Two engines are mounted above and to the rear of the crew cabin area and power a large five-blade main rotor system. The empennage is also a distinct feature of this rotorcraft as it sits high in the design and sports a single vertical tail fin, horizontal plane and a three-blade tail rotor mounted to the starboard side (the similar Mi-17 mounts the tail rotor to port). A modified Hip system features a rear-loading ramp. The crew consists of a pilot, co-pilot and a loadmaster.