Mil V-12 Homer

V-12 No.1 at the Mil Helicopter Plant in Panki. Note that the rotor blades are removed.

The Mil V-12 (NATO reporting name: Homer), is the largest helicopter ever built. The designation "Mi-12" would have been the name for the production helicopter and was not applied to the V-12 prototypes. Design limitations forced Mil to adopt a twin rotor system but design studies of a tandem layout, similar to the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, revealed major problems. The single rotor layouts also studied proved to be non-viable, leading to the transverse layout chosen for the finished article.

The transverse rotor system of the V-12, which eliminates the need for a tail rotor, consists of two Mil Mi-6 transmission systems complete with rotors mounted at the tips of the approximately 98 ft span inverse tapered wings. Although the first use by Mil, the transverse system had been used by several of the early helicopters, including the Focke-Wulf Fw 61, Focke-Achgelis Fa 223 Drache and Kamov Ka-22 Vintokryl convertiplane. The first prototype, given the registration SSSR-21142, made its first flight on 10 July 1968 from the Mil factory pad in Panki to the Mil OKB test flight facility in Lyubertsy. In February 1969, the first prototype lifted a record 68,410 lb payload to 9,682 ft. On 6 August 1969, the V-12 lifted 97,455 lb to a height of 7,398 ft, also a world record.

The second prototype was also assembled at the Mil experimental production facility in Panki but sat in the workshop for a full year awaiting engines, flying for the first time in March 1973 from Panki to the flight test facilities in Lyubertsy. Curiously the second prototype was also registered SSSR-21142. Despite all of these achievements the Soviet Air Force refused to accept the helicopter for state acceptance trials for many reasons, the main one being that the V-12's most important intended mission no longer existed, i.e. the rapid deployment of heavy strategic ballistic missiles. This also led to a reduction in Antonov An-22 production. In May–June 1971, the first prototype V-12 SSSR-21142 made a series of flights over Europe culminating in an appearance at the 29th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget wearing exhibit code H-833.

All development on the V-12 was stopped in 1974. The first prototype remained at the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant in Panki-Tomilino, Lyuberetsky District near Moscow and is still there today (19 Dec 2021) at 55°40′2″N 37°55′56″E. The second prototype was donated to Central Air Force Museum 50 km (31 mi) east of Moscow for public display.

World records