|Polish Mi-8P, Serial 618, en route to the UK
and seen at a truck stop, in the Netherlands, on 3rd February 2010.
Many thanks to Dr.T at www.sgwoensdrecht.nl for the photos.
|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). More Mi-8 Re-assembly Pictures|
|The Mi-8 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 It was withdrawn from use in 2006 and parked in open storage at Leznica.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 in 2004|
|From 1960 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-8P, Serial 618, as an Air Ambulance in 2006|
| A third
version, now with five rotor blades and 1700 shp turboshafts, went into production in
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
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.
|Mi-8PS as a VIP transport in Polish national livery|
|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|
|Mi-8P, 618, re-assembly||Arrivals and Acquisitions|