In January 1954 the Soviet government issued a directive on the creation of the multi-purpose Ka-26 in two versions: the agricultural version capable of carrying 600-700 kg of chemicals and the transport version for carrying passengers over distances of up to 400 km. The first circuit flight of the Ka-26 took place on August 18, 1956; the prototype was flown by test pilot V.V.Gromov.
During the previous 15 years, the Kamov Design Bureau had been building various types of small agricultural helicopter with limited success. However, Kamov eventually came up with the classic design of the mass-produced Ka-26, which became a widely used multirole utility helicopter. The State trials were successfully completed in the autumn of 1957 and production was launched in the town of Kumertau at a factory, which had been purpose-built in 1962. The helicopter Ka-26 was first demonstrated at the autumn exhibition in Moscow in 1965. Thanks to its efficient construction the helicopter could be easily transformed from the passenger version.
The light multipurpose helicopter, the Ka-26 with two piston engines of F-14B-26, is widespread in various sectors of national economy of the Soviet Union. The KA-26 helicopters of different variants were produced by the KumAPE from 1968 to 1979. For this period of time more than 800 helicopters were issued. The helicopter was exported to 17 countries. The helicopter KA-26, produced by KUMAPP in passenger, freight and patrol variants, was in high demand and used not only on the territory of the USSR and in socialist countries but even in so highly industrially developed country as Japan. The deliveries of large batches of these helicopters were carried out to such countries as Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Japan, France and Sweden. Ka-26 is the only helicopter in the former USSR, which has received FAA type certificate. A total of 825 helicopters were produced, of which about 400 are currently  continuing to operate in Russia, the CIS republics and several foreign countries.
The Ka 26 helicopter has perfectly recommended itself during the thirty-year operation in various regions of the world. Multipurpose application of the helicopter is incorporated in the concept of its design: the helicopter-carrier is " a flying chassis" that, depending on the task in view, is equipped with various mountable equipment.
The helicopter KA-26 lifts up to 900 kg. It has two piston engines of 325 hp each; its speed is up to 170 km/hour and range 400 km. Up to 30 per cent of its structural parts are made of plastic; and for the first time in the USSR the propeller blades are of glass-reinforced plastic. The agricultural variant is being tested and can be easily transformed for passengers or cargo.
First announced in early 1964, the general-purpose Kamov Ka-26 helicopter (NATO reporting name 'Hoodlum') is of typical Kamov helicopter design and incorporates a conventional tail unit with twin endplate fins and rudders, with tailplane and elevators between. The aircraft is carried on four-wheel fixed landing gear, and power is provided by two 242-kW (325-hp) Vedeneyev M-14V-26 radial piston engines.
The Ka-26 represents an interesting departure from the general design philosophy of the entire range of helicopters having gross weights of up to 12,000 lb; not only because of its coaxial configuration, but also because of the utilization of reciprocating engines. Utilization of the two Vedeneev M-14V-26 reciprocating engines on the Kamov Ka-26 helicopter was definitely an exception to the general trend of using turboshafts on contemporary multiengine helicopters. One's attention should be called to the low relative fuel consumption of the Ka-26-resulting from the utilization of reciprocating engines. The Ka-26 helicopter appears as especially interesting with respect to energy aspects related to pound of gross weight. Thanks to the reciprocating engines installed in that helicopter, it becomes a champion as far as low fuel requirements per pound of gross weight with respect to time and distance are concerned. It should be noted, however, that the optima occur atlow flying speeds (about 50 and 70 knots, respectively) which, in some operations, may represent a serious drawback (low productivity).
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