Tonight’s Night Thread is dedicated to the Mi-12, a monstrous twin-rotor helicopter which was developed by the Soviet Union to span vast distances in the 1960’s. All Soviet aircraft were given codenames by NATO beginning with the letter “H” – and the world’s largest helicopter was named “Homer.”
The Mi-12 had been dreamed up in the late ‘50s, with the idea that it would be able to carry heavy first generation nuclear missiles to the most remote launching stations in Russia, without building railway networks that would be visible to American spy satellites. The scale of this helicopter, looking more like a plane than anything else, is astounding; the cargo box was almost a hundred feet long, and it required a crew of six spread across two decks, including an on-board electrician.
Development of the aircraft progressed through the next decade, and the first prototype Homer was tested in ‘67 and ‘68. The Cold War had changed in both temperature and technology during that decade, though; a period of détente with the United States resulted in the need for such extreme vehicles was no longer so pressing, and intercontinental ballistic missiles had become smaller and lighter.
A second prototype set records in 1969: in February, a 31030kg load was lifted to 2951m and the following August, 40204kg was taken to 2255m. It was presented in the West at the 1971 Paris Air Show, but by 1974 the project had been scrapped.
The helicopter was considered for use by Aeroflot as a passenger aircraft – there was space for 196 passengers, but unfortunately that plan was never realised, either. Imagine travelling in such a beast!
Have a great night, everyone, take care of yourselves, and stay safe!