This helicopter was flying over the burning reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and over hot spots around the world in the UN peacekeeping missions. It carry cargoes with weight of twenty tons at the distance of 2000 km (1242 miles). The diameter of its screw is equal to the wingspan of Boeing-737. It has two engines, 11 000 hp each. Mi-26 is the largest serial transport helicopter in the world!
“Utair” air company uses the biggest helicopters, the fleet of the company amounts to 352 helicopters, 25 of them are Mi-26.
Mi-26 is a Soviet multipurpose transport helicopter. Its first flight was performed on the 14th of December, 1977. The serial production is established in Rostov. 310 vehicles have been produced in general. The production proceeds.
Mi-26, as well as its its foregoer Mi-6, was intended for transportation of military equipment, armory, food, troops with their equipment and armament, for medical evacuations and, in special case, for tactical landings.
It was the first Soviet helicopter of the third generation. In the end of the 60s-70s many foreign companies were designing innovative helicopters, but Mi-26 was significantly superior to both domestic and foreign rates of helicopters with a cargo compartment.
Almost at the same geometrical dimensions as that of the Mi-6, the new vehicle had twice bigger payload and significantly better performance characteristics. But it didn’t affect the take-off weight of the helicopter.
They had been working much with the project trying to find reasonable solutions, constructions of some parts were repeatedly redesigned.
In 1974 they already knew what Mi-26 is going to be. Almost all systems of the power unit were located over the cargo compartment. In the nose part of the fuselage there was a cabin with seats for a left pilot, right pilot, navigator and a mechanic and a cabin for four persons who accompanied a cargo and one more mechanic.
The cargo compartment is 12,1 m length (with a ladder – 15 m) x width 3,2 m x height from 2,95 to 3,17 m.
In the landing variant the Mi-26 is carrying 82 soldiers or 68 paratroopers. Special equipment allowed to turn a helicopter into the ambulance one for a few hours to transport 60 wounded on stretchers and three accompanying medical workers.
It reads “Seat of a medical worker”.
Eight main fuel tanks with total capacity of 12,000 liters were placed under the cargo floor of the fuselage. Four more fuel tanks for 14,800 litres can be mounted in the cargo compartment. Fuel tanks and engines are protected by armor.
For the first time in the history of helicopter building the main rotor has eight blades.
Mi-26 has a tricycle landing gear and a retractable tail wheel. For convenient handling the clearance of the main undercarriage can be adjusted.
In 1983 Mi-26 started to be supplied to combat regiments and squadrons. Soon the became the favorite vehicles. It started to be used for combat purposes in Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Chechnya, Dagestan. It showed itself as a reliable and often irreplacable vehicle.
Mi-26 was also helping to fight fires and during disasters. In 1986 the helicopters were used for liquidation of the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident.
Mi-6 helicopters, brothers of Mi-26, stand near Pripyat.
Russian and Ukranian Mi-26 also participated in the UN peacekeeping missions. They worked in the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Cambodia, Indonesia, etc.
The helicopter is widely famous abroad. It is used in many European countries.
In September, 1996, one Mi-26 set a world record when lifted 224 paratroopers at the height of 6500 m (four miles).
Once it was used for transportation of the Tu-134 plane in St. Petersburg.