The Mi-10 showing its potential (Image © Russian Helicopters)

The Russian Flying Crane: 50 years since first production

The Mi-10 showing its potential (Image © Russian Helicopters)
The Mi-10 showing its potential (Image © Russian Helicopters)

September is a great celebration year for the Russian helicopter industry. Not only does it mark the 45 years of the Mi-24, it also celebrates the 50th year since the production of a rare chopper: the Mil Mi-10 “Flying Crane”.

Development on the specialised military-transport helicopter started in 1958, basically adapting an existing Mi-6 heavy transport helicopter. Among other items, the control and transmission systems plus the engine of the Mi-6 were used. The fuselage was different, as well as the tall four-wheeled chassis to transport loads up to 11.5 feet (3.5 metres) high underneath its belly.

The cargo platform was later fixed to the chassis with hydraulic claws. The Mi-10 stays airborne with a five-blade main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor.

The Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant (now a Russian Helicopters company) completed design work on the Mi-10 in 1959, and in June 1960 the skycrane first took to the skies. Testing was concluded by 1964, after which it went into serial production at the Rostov-on-Don plant. The first serial-produced Mi-10 helicopter made its first flight in September 1964.

Several modifications of the Mi-10 were produced: the Mi-10GR ELINT helicopter, the Mi-10UPL universal field laboratory transporter, and the Mi-10P helicopter designed to provide airborne electronic counter-measures and targeting support during combat. The first two remained prototypes, but the third saw greater demand: Mi-10P helicopters served in the Soviet Army’s regiments.

The Mi-10K back in the days (Image © Russian Helicopters)
The Mi-10K back in the days (Image © Russian Helicopters)

The Mi-10K was another, ‘short-legged’, version of the Mi-10. It went into serial production at the plant in March 1974. The helicopter is designed for special construction and transportation work. It had a low, four-legged, chassis and rear-facing pilot cabin under the fuselage nose boasting mechanical control and new radio equipment.

In the Soviet Union, the Flying Cranes were used for cargo transportation, in installing drilling rigs in oil and gas rich areas of East Siberia and the Far North, for complex installation operations on industrial construction and reconstruction projects. These helicopters significantly decreased both the time this work took and its cost.

The Mi-10 and its various different versions have set 10 world records, including a sensational record for cargo lifting: the helicopter can lift a load weighing 25,105 kg.

A total of 24 Mi-10 and 21 Mi-10K helicopters – NATO-reporting name Harke – were produced. As far as we at Airheadsfly.com could find out the only remaining active Mi-10s serve with UTair Aviation, headquartered at Khanty-Mansiysk Airport in Russia.

Source: Russian Helicopters, slightly adapted for publication at Airheadsfly.com by editor Marcel Burger

A Mi-10K in still good shape at the Rostvertol plant in Russia (Image © Russian Helicopters)
A Mi-10K in still good shape at the Rostvertol plant in Russia (Image © Russian Helicopters)