Mi-6 Helicopter Modifications
Mi-6PRTBV (podvizhnaya raketno-tekhnicheskaya bahza vertolyotnovo tipa - heliborne mobile missile-servicing unit). In the Soviet Armed Forces this version was viewed as a part of a whole range of measures designed to ensure the mobility of missile forces. The Mi-6PRTBV was intended for transporting missiles and readying them for launch. It took to the air for the first time in 1960 and was recommended for entry into service two years later after comprehensive trials. This version differed from the baseline Mi-6 in having some changes in the equipment of the cargo hold and featuring additional means of concealment. It could deliver izdeliye 8K11 and 8K14 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), or R-9 and R-10 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), or intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) warheads to the launch sites. There was also a variant of the Mi-6PRTBV intended for transporting a cistern with rocket fuel.
Mi-6RVK (raketno-vertolyotnyy kompleks - heliborne missile system). In 1963 the Mil OKB together with several defence industry enterprises developed and built two heliborne missile systems which were allotted the designations 9K53 and 9K73 (R-17V; better known by its NATO code name SS-1 Scud). They comprised Mi-6 helicopters and light self-propelled launchers with missiles assigned to the Ground Forces: the 9M21 Luna-MV (Moon-MV) SRBM and the 8K114 IRBM respectively. After successful trials the two systems were delivered to the armed forces for operational testing. A small number of the combination 9K73 were produced and deployed in the Soviet Army.
Mi-6 ELINT equipment jamming version. Developed in 1962, this was the first Mi-6 version intended for electronic countermeasures. Its task consisted in protecting the Soviet Union's air defence units from being detected by the enemy's ELINT means. This aircraft was fitted with appropriate mission equipment and featured additional antennas on the starboard side. Yet another variant intended for signals jamming was the Mi-6PP (postanovschchik pomekh - ECM aircraft) which was developed in the 1980s to counteract the AWACS early warning/ELINT system.
The Mi-6M (probably morskoy - maritime, or naval) was a shore-based ASW version which was under development from 1958 onwards. It was to be fitted with heavy armament comprising four PLAT-1 ASW torpedoes or four Kondor rockets. Two panniers housing the armament were located either side of the fuselage in place of the external strap-on tanks. The first prototype of this version was built in 1963. In 1965 one more Mi-6 was converted under the "Boorlak" programme into a helicopter for towing an experimental sonar or a mine clearing trawl. Unfortunately, the development of the ASW mission equipment proved to be a protracted affair, and the naval versions of the Mi-6 failed to reach the stage of State trials. Suitably modified Mi-6s (possibly these very aircraft) were used for a long time as testbeds for various items of ASW equipment and armament.
A version of the Mi-6 for transporting the BU-75BKM oil rig in dismantled condition, as well as other oil prospecting equipment, was developed in 1962.
A transport and passenger version of the Mi-6 was developed in 1963 as a civil version of the basic transport and troop-carrier Mi-6. It lacked the machine-gun in the nose and featured some changes in the flight deck equipment.
The Mi-6P (passazheerskiy - passenger, used attributively) was an airliner (or rather "heli-liner") version developed in 1965. The comfortable cabin with rectangular windows was provided with heat- and soundproofing, a wardrobe and a toilet; it seated 70 persons five-abreast in a standard layout and 80 persons in a tourist layout. The rear fuselage clamshell doors and ramp were replaced by a fairing with a downward-hinging airstair door. In case of need the passenger version could easily be converted into a transport/ambulance version.
The Mi-6PS (poiskovo-spasah-tel'nyy - search and rescue, used attributively) version was built in 1966. It was intended for locating and rescuing the crews of the Soviet Union's Soyuz and Vostok series spacecraft, as well as the reentry modules of these spacecraft, after their landings. This version featured additional equipment helping the helicopter in getting its bearings over water. A special cabin compartment provided with medical equipment was intended for the cosmonauts' recreation. It was further equipped with a special sling system for transporting the recovered spacecraft capsule externally; the special equipment included winches and hoists, as well as containers with life boats and life rafts. A similar version based on the Mi-6A and called Mi-6PSA was produced in 1973.
The Mi-6PZh (pozharnyy) was a special fire-fighting variant; it was developed in 1967 to combat forest fires and differed from the baseline model in lacking wings. The Mi-6PZh was fitted with tanks holding 12 tonnes (26,455 lb) of water, with an ejection nozzle placed centrally in the fuselage. Other equipment included six bag-type water tanks holding 1,5 tonnes apiece, to be carried underslung; a tank for a foaming agent; pumps; a pair of boom-shaped hoses attached to the forward fuselage and lowered for taking on water; rescue means and other kinds of fire-fighting equipment.
In the same year the Mi-6PZh crashed while on a fire-fighting mission in the south of France, killing test pilot Yuriy A. Garnayev. A second example of the fire-fighting version designated Mi-6PZh2 was built in 1971; it successfully passed trials and took part in combating forest fires on numerous occasions. It differed from its predecessor in having a water cannon on a flexible mount in the forward fuselage.
The Mi-6 engine testbed with uprated 6,500-shp D-25VF engines was created in 1969 for developing the Mi-12 helicopter's powerplant. It was also used for studying ways and means of improving the basic Mi-6's performance.
The Mi-6A was a new baseline version. It was developed in 1971 as a result of numerous improvements that had been effected during the first ten years of the Mi-6's service in the Armed Forces and the national economy. It differed from the previous baseline model primarily in having longer-life main assemblies and new avionics. Besides, the hydraulic system was modified, incorporating a single hydraulic unit. The Mi-6A could transport up to 90 troops in its cargo hold and an underslung load of up to 9 tonnes (19,841 lb). The maximum take-off weight of this machine was increased to 44 tonnes (97,020 lb).
The communications relay version of the Mi-6 was developed in 1974 by installing powerful radio communication equipment in the cargo hold, as well as various antennas on the fuselage sides and on the tail boom.
The Mi-6TZ (toplivozaprahvschchik - fuel tanker) was a tanker version for the Ground Forces and aviation units. This version was en-visaged even as the baseline model was entering squadron service. In the early 1960s military test pilots conducted experiments with in-flight refuelling of helicopters, using the Mi-4 and Mi-6 for this purpose. However, production of the Mi-6TZ special version began only in 1973 (later succeeded by the Mi-6ATZ based on the Mi-6A).
The Mi-6VKP (vozdooshnyy ko-mahndnyy poonkt) was an airborne command post (ABCP). This variant created by the military at the end of the 1960s was intended for combat control of units at the army level (ground forces armies or air armies). The helicopter's cargo hold was provided with a communication equipment suite and a comfortable compartment for headquarters officers. However, the ABCP could only function after landing and deploying its equipment on the ground. Therefore the Mil OKB started the development of a modification which could perform the same functions without landing. It received the designation Mi-6AYa (Mi-6VzPU), the latter suffix denoting vozdooshnyy poonkt oopravleniya - airborne control post. This version entered service in 1975 under the designation Mi-22.
The Mi-6VR "Vodoley" (Aquarius) was a flying laboratory for testing helicopter de-icing systems in icing conditions caused artificially by spraying water. It was developed in 1976. The Mil OKB undertook numerous studies aimed at a more radical modernization of the helicopter with a view to improving its performance. However, they showed that reserves for increasing the lifting capacity of the helicopter were insignificant if the five-blade main rotor was to be retained. Therefore, work on such projects which had received the designation Mi-6M (second use of the suffix, denoting modifitseerovannyy - modified) was stopped in 1970 and the design team embarked on creating a radically new heavy-lift machine of the third generation which subsequently received the designation Mi-26. One Mi-6 was converted into an aerodynamics testbed for testing the main and tail rotors, as well as some other assemblies and systems of the Mi-26.
The Mi-6, a veritable giant of the air, laid the beginning for a new direction in world helicopter construction - the creation of heavy-lift rotorcraft. The Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant retains to this day its leading positions in this field of aviation.
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