Mil V-8 single-engine prototype helicopter, the grandfather of the legendary Mi-8/17 series of transport/multirole helicopters.
Featuring a single AI-24 2,010 kW (2,700 shp) Soloviev turboshaft engine, originally designed to power fixed-wing aircraft, and a 4-bladed main rotor layout, it began as a simple upgrade to the piston-powered Mil Mi-4, as that was the only way her designer and founder of the Mil company, Mikhail Mil, could realize his dream of building an utilitarian turbine-powered helicopter, as the soviet military was happy with the Mi-4 and didn’t feel the need for a new machine.
The original single piston-engine Mi-4.
But thanks to Nikita Khrushchev, whom after a trip to America wanted a VIP helicopter of his own, like the S-58 he got to ride into, the machine was eventually developed into it’s current 2-engine and 5-blades design; the gas turbine, a Klimov TV2-117, being purposely-designed for helicopter use, earning the designation Mil Mi-8, NATO reporting name Hip.
The VIP S-58, a VH-34D model that pushed Khrushchev into helping the Mi-8.
The TV2 gas turbine, the world’s most popular helicopter engine.
Originally sold to the soviet civilian market, basically just Aeroflot, the advent of the Vietnam War and the greatly publicized use of the Bell UH-1 “Huey” in that war finally convinced the Soviet military to procure the aircraft, leading to massive orders and a production run that continues to this day, making the Mi-8/17 family THE most successful helicopter in history, with over 17,000 units produced, and in service with over 80 countries world-wide.
Many of the variants of this machine build over the years, from transport to attack, to even electronic warfare, the last machine being the MD revision that greatly reshaped the fuselage.
In the case of my country Colombia, it entered service in 1996, after the arrival of 10 reconstructed Mi-17 1V variants (abandoned air frames left incomplete after the collapse of the USSR, that were later refurbished and finished and at a lower price), where it gained the nickname “La Papaya” (the Papaya) due to it’s shape, becoming the first helicopter model in Army service.
This machine is the closest we have to an actual flying truck, serving both civilian and military clients in every corner of the world, from the scorching African deserts, to the remove and unforgiving Himalayan mountains, a testament of the simple design philosophy of the soviets.