|Polish Mi-8P, Serial 618, en route to the UK and seen at a truck stop, in the Netherlands, on 3rd February 2010.|
|Cockpit Photograph by Martin Sirrett|
|Polish Air Force
24-seat passenger transport Mi-8P, Serial 618, c/n 10618 was delivered to The Museum
in the morning of 5th February
2010, after a three day journey on a low loader, from the army airbase
at Leznica Wielka in central Poland. Donated by the Polish Ministry of
National Defence it is the first Mi-8 to be displayed in a UK Museum.
The external fuel tanks and cabin heater had been removed for the journey and were secured in the cabin along with the horizontal stabilisers and some seating units. Rotor blades, main gearbox, tail rotor assembly, tail rotor pylon and landing gear all followed by separate transport on 6th February, when everything was unloaded. The landing gear and main gearbox were fitted before 618 was brought into the Conservation Hangar where the external fuel tanks were fitted in March 2010. It remained there until 24th April 2010 when it was pushed into the main Display Hangar but was returned, temporarily, to the Conservation Hangar on 3rd July to allow the tail rotor assembly, horizontal stabilisers and tail rotor pylon to be fitted.
|Assembly work on 618, in March 2010, included checks on the opening rear clamshell doors (above left) and the incorporated, central, downward-hinged, passenger airstairs. The cabin interior was cleared apart from the seating units (above centre) and the external fuel tanks were refitted. The cabin heater unit was installed forward of the starboard fuel tank (above right).|
Mi-8P Serial 618 in 2004
was designed by Mikhail Mil and about fifteen of the Mi-8P, Mi-8PS
and Mi-8S passenger variant helicopters, with rectangular windows,
were supplied to Poland. Serial 618 was manufactured in the
Kazan factory, in the then Soviet Union, in June 1972 and delivered
to the Special Air Transport Regiment (SPLT) of the Polish Air Force
in Warsaw, as a Mi-8PS, in the red and white national colour scheme,
in September 1972.
It was used, initially, as an executive transport but was later modified to Mi-8P configuration with green and sand camouflage, for use with 37 Air Group, Leznica Wielka, as an air ambulance, an airborne command post and as a troop transport. It was withdrawn from use in 2006 and parked in open storage at Leznica.
Mi-8P, Serial 618, as an Air Ambulance in 2006
Mil’s OKB were designing a replacement for the 14-seat
Mi-4 (also represented in The Museum collection). This was
the Mi-8 (“Hip”), a multipurpose, medium-lift, helicopter that
was originally intended for use by Aeroflot. They decided to use
the Mi-4’s rotor hub, blades and tail boom initially, with a single
2700 shp Soloviev turbine above the fuselage and a 2-seat cockpit
in the nose. This prototype first flew in June 1961, the same year
as the first Mi-2 flight, and was seen at the Tushino Display in
July of that year.
The second prototype, with two 1400 shp Izotov TV2-117 turboshafts and all-metal rotor blades, first flew in September 1962 and was later demonstrated to members of the Soviet government.
Mi-8PS as a VIP transport in Polish national livery
| A third version, now with
five rotor blades and 1700 shp turboshafts, went into production
in 1964 having claimed two world speed and distance records. Two
years later a civil 28-passenger variant, the Mi-8P with large rectangular
windows, entered production. It had a strengthened floor so could
be easily converted to carry freight, internally or underslung.
A very similar civil version, the Mi-8PS with seating for only 5
or 6 passengers, but with improved facilities and amenities, was
introduced for VIP use.
A prototype civil Mi-8P had been on display at the 1965 Paris Air Show, where it was flown by Captain John Cameron, of BEA’s Helicopter Unit. In 1967 Cameron led a BEA team, on a visit to Moscow, to evaluate the Mi-8P for possible use in the UK, in place of the Sikorsky S-61. The team's verdict is understood to have been positive but none were ever purchased for use by UK civil operators.
|The Mi-8T and its derivatives soon became the standard Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries' military utility and assault helicopters, some with increasingly varied and heavy weapons fit, though the weight of these armaments, which included rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles, made it necessary to reduce the number of troops that could be carried. Many passenger versions have been sold to civil operators worldwide. The Mi-8 has been used by these civil operators and by armed forces in over 65 countries, including Peru, Poland, Russia, Cuba, India, China, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Up to 2006, factories in Kazan and Ulan Ude had produced more than 10,000 examples of the Mi-8, in twenty versions, and at least 7000 of its subsequent, more powerful and efficient, export derivative, the Mi-17. Many later versions of the Mi-8 and Mi-17 were still in use, worldwide, in 2019.||
Aerogaviota's Mi-8PS in Cuba in June 2006