The Creative Work of Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant

All the World's Rotorcraft

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

The construction works moved ahead fast. In 1963 first buildings, including assembly section, where they immediately started working at the new helicopters, were ready. That very year the construction of the first block of flats was complete. There was a need to "strengthen" the management of the enterprise for mastering new technological base, that's why the post of plant director was introduced again in 1964. S.A.Kolupayev became a director. He was aided by chief engineer M.N.Pivovarov, chief production manager M.S.Brodsky and chief technologist D.A.Iordanidze. Mainly thanks to them all, the whole plant complex was completed in 1966. Then in Panki there started the construction of laboratory and stand complex for ground-based tests. It was not less than the production facilities in dimensions. It was completed in 1971. They only failed to erect large building for static tests, that's why those tests were later carried out in the open air. The production and laboratory base in Panki expanded firm's abilities considerably. New modifications of Mi-8, super heavy V-12, amphibian Mi-14 and combat Mi-24 were built there during 60s.

M.L.Mil at V-12 tests

But intended shifting of Experimental Design Bureau departments to the new site in Panki wasn't carried out. Taking into account that any territorial shifting of EDB departments causes loss of qualified experts, Mil received the permission from the Ministry for Aviation Industry to keep the Experimental Design Bureau at 2nd Rybinskaya street in Sokolniki. The Experimental Design Bureau, headed by E.V.Yablonski since 1963, has changed substantially. During 60s its staff increased almost fourfold. Various design bureaux and departments were formed on the basis of expanded teams.

The third main division of Plant ¹329 (a flight testing station, initially situated on the grounds of speedily built on aerodrome in Zakharkovo) was less fortunate. Since the founding of well equipped flight service station, attached to the new plant complex in Panki wasn't envisaged, the area for its construction was allotted near Rodniki station of Kazanskaya railway. Though the place was very convenient, this project remained unrealised, because the planned closing of Bykovo airport didn't take place and air area above Rodniki remained occupied. Therefore instead of the envisaged flight testing station, there had to be deployed full-scale stands for testing helicopter dynamic units. Early in 1964 in accordance with the decision of Moscow City Council the flight testing station of the Plant ¹329 was moved from Zakharkovo to the aerodrome of the Research Institute of Aviation Technique Operation and Maintenance in Lyubertsy. It was suggested that its dislocation would be temporary there, therefore the fundamental construction wasn't carried out, and all services were placed in nine single-storied houses - "horizontal skyscrapers". "Temporary" dislocation of the polygon in Lyubertsy dragged on till 90s. As before, flight service was headed by D.T.Matitsky, and G.V.Remezov was appointed the head of the leading designers subdivision.

Range of affiliated branches, which basis was laid down by Mil during 50s, took its final shape in 60s. Simultaneously with the construction of the new complex in Panki, there was carried out the construction of large design, production and testing base of the Affiliated Branch ¹1 in Kazan. G.I.Bakshaev was its first manager and organiser. Up to now this affiliated branch is engaged in elaboration, building, flight testing and development of the modifications, as well as upgrading of multi-purpose middle-class Mi-8 helicopter, and also Mi-14 amphibian. For this purpose the affiliated branch was provided with all necessary equipment, including even stands for power units testing and blade resource testing. In view of starting serial manufacturing of Mi-6 helicopters at the Plant ¹168 Mil's firm has opened own Affiliated Branch ¹2 in Rostov-on-Don. The Branch was engaged in elaboration of Mi-6 heavy helicopter modifications. M.V.Suvorov was the first manager and organiser of the Affiliated Branch ¹2. Affiliated Branch ¹3 was established in 1970 in Feodosia specially for carrying out flight tests and development of Mi-14 amphibian helicopter, as well as unique complex of navy armament installed on that helicopter. Before disintegration of the USSR, Feodosia complex, incorporating fundamental buildings, hangars and laboratories was considered one of the best equipped divisions of Plant ¹329. In Feodosia Mil's firm has founded its own second rest depot (the first one is "Anchor's Chain" in Sochi). L.N.Babushkin was the first manager and organiser of that branch.

Firm manager M.L.Mil had to spend much force and efforts to solve territorial and financial problems, but despite that, research and development problems of helicopter design were always on the foreground. Thanks to Mil's energy and enthusiasm, strengthened by growing expertise of his team, it was possible to solve new complex problems. All helicopters created under his direct guidance have passed tests and were taken to serial production, excluding V-7 experimental helicopter and V-12 giant helicopter, which was ahead of time. The success wasn't accidental because it was based on high level of design skills and high culture of experimental production. In 1964 Mil became designer general. As a true scientist he always found time for preparing scientific publications dedicated to problems of increasing the economy of helicopter operation and extending the scope of their application, to the perspectives of helicopter building development.

Mil's research school was further developed. 1960s marked the beginning the all-round use of computers for all design works, as well as the development of stand laboratory and flight-test bases. Quite a few employees have successfully defended Ph.D. and D.Sc. dissertations. Former young experts have become well-known scientists. Among them there are: aerodynamist M.N.Tishchenko, strength expert Z.E.Shnurov, one of initiators of helicopter autopilot design S.Yu.Yesaulov, experts in dynamic strength and aeroelastisity O.P.Bakhov, Yu.A.Myagkov and V.M.Pchelkin, expert in trimming, stability and controllability D.M.Perlstein, scientific research manager of the Affiliated Branch ¹1 A.Yu.Liss, manager of the complex laboratory of non-metal materials E.L.Apartseva, expert in calculation of main rotor resource A.M.Fertman.

The results of research and development activities were published in Engineering Magazine of the USSR Academy of Sciences, in Works of CAHI, in Collection of CAEI, in "Technique of Air Fleet", "Aviation Industry" magazines, as well as in many other specialised editions. Since 1966 those materials were published in the Collected Works of the Experimental Design Bureau, instituted by Mil. Firm manager always encouraged carrying out in-plant scientific and technical conferences, as well as participation of his employees in other representative forums. Two volume book "Helicopters. Computation and Design", containing theoretical and practical methods of design, elaborated by leading experts, was published in 1966-1967. This work was highly appreciated by domestic and foreign experts. It was translated into English and published in the USA. In 1969 two employees - I.S.Dmitriyev and S.Yu.Yesaulov - published the book “Single-rotor Helicopter Control Systems".

Mil considered it necessary to support constant contacts with serial production plants, aiding them to achieve high degree of reliability, safety and high resource index of helicopters produced. Experts always prepared the technical documentation for serial helicopters: technical descriptions, user manuals, albums, etc. When Mi helicopters were in operation abroad Experimental Design Bureau rendered assistance to foreign customers. Plant representatives regularly visited Air Force, Civil Air Fleet and Voluntary Society of Assistance to Army and Navy divisions, which exploited Mi helicopters. All flight occurrences were investigated very carefully. In accordance with results of investigations necessary development was carried out. For studying peculiarities of helicopter operation in extreme climatical conditions of the Far North, tropics and wildernesses the firm used to send special expeditions, consisting of plant experts.

Thanks to Mil's firm, 1960s became the important stage in the development of domestic helicopter building. Mi helicopters made over 95% of all helicopters in the Soviet Union and friendly states. Air Force helicopters were used for carrying out a number of new tasks, such as direct fire support for the troops or suppressing adversary's tanks. At 1965 armed Mi helicopters were used in the military manoeuvres of Warsaw treaty states. The first domestic combat helicopter Mi-24 took off in 1969. At that time Mi-14 high-efficiency anti-submarine helicopter was prepared for Navy. New deposits of oil and natural gas were discovered in West Siberia using Mi civil helicopters. Those machines were used as unique technological systems. For instance, all Mi helicopters were used for crane-mounting works.

In 1965 Mi helicopters were demonstrated in Paris Aviation Saloon at Le Bourget for the first time, where they attracted great interest of aviation experts. Export was expanded. Orders for Mi helicopters were received from the USA, Netherlands and Japan. Mi-8 was the first helicopter to be certified in accordance with highest international standards.

Nearly all helicopters were manufactured at the Plant ¹329 in large batches. Mi-2 and Mi-8 models became popular helicopters. Mi-2 for several decades was the basis of Polish helicopter-building. Mi-8 helicopters are produced up to now, they are record makers of manufacturing programme. Serial production of Mi-24 helicopters was launched at the Arsenyev machine-building plant. Then aviation plant in Ulan-Ude began to build Mi helicopters.

Plant ¹329 also took part in elaboration for adjacent industries, which create defence product and product for national economy. So in 1961 Mil's firm in co-operation with Korolyov Experimental Design Bureau launched the research for project “K”. It was a landing system for manned space vehicle. The landing module of “Soyuz” spacecraft was to be equipped with autorotating main rotor with foldable blades instead of the parachute unit. Blades were to open after re-entry of the module, to be spin-up by incoming flow and to decelerate the module. So it was possible to decrease surcharges. Control system allowed spacemen to choose the safe point for landing. Despite appreciation, these works were discontinued due to the intensive programme of helicopter design, being carried out in Experimental Design Bureau.

In 1964 in compliance with the resolution of National Council for Economy there aroused a need to make fans for chemical industry water-cooling towers. Their output had to be 2.7, 5 and 10 rnln. cub.m per hour. Such fans weren't manufactured in the USSR before. Mil's design bureau had to solve the task. In accordance with engineers' computations, fans with diameter 10.4, 14 and 20 meters are more suitable to the task. For design it was necessary to carry out a range of experiments and to consider different types of blade and bush designs. As a result of those works, three blade types were built at Plant ¹329: stamped, cast and glass-plastic with steel spar. All fans had been successfully tested at the industrial enterprises and then they were put into serial manufacturing. During the next decade these fans were delivered even abroad.

In 1967 State Aviation Plant ¹329 was renamed into Moscow Helicopter Plant. The same year Mil's team have finished testing Mi-10 and Mi-10K flying cranes and introduced them into serial production. Mi-2 and Mi-8 multi-purpose helicopters of second generation were elaborated, tested and put into serial production too. The team started to upgrade them. 1967 saw the take-off of the giant V-12, unsurpassed in dimensions and loading capacity helicopter, as well as the first domestic amphibian Mi-14. Superlight Mi-20, superheavy Mi-12M and combat Mi-24 helicopters were in the stage of design. Mi-2, Mi-6 and Mi-8 models were being radically upgraded. At that time the Moscow Helicopter Plant became acknowledged leader in world helicopter-building.

So during comparatively short period of 15 years plant team, directed by talented chief designer, created nine helicopter types and two experimental machines - V-7 and V-12, which opened new horizons in helicopter production. More than 60 world records were set up by Mi helicopters. For his outstanding contribution to the development of the Soviet aviation Mil was awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labour, decorated with three Orders of Lenin, Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd Class, Order of the Red Banner of Labour, Order of the Red Star and medals. He was awarded the State Prize of the USSR (1958) and Lenin Prize (1968). M.L.Mil expired on 31st January 1970. Moscow Helicopter Plant was named after him.

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

From "Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant. 50 years" by V.R.Miheyev