TsAGI CENTENARY IN THE HISTORY OF AVIATION: Helicopter Ka-50
18 June 2018
The first appearance of the coaxial helicopter Ka-50, subsequently called the “Black Shark”, took place in June 17, 1982. Earlier, in 1975, the world’s first military antitank helicopter — the American AH-64 Apache performed its first flight. In response, the Soviet Government decided to develop a domestic combat rotary-wing aircraft matching its rival.
Designers of the Kamov Design Bureau faced a demanding task: they had to construct in the shortest possible time a manoeuvrable and high-performance military aircraft capable of attacking tanks. As a result, creation of the rotary-wing aircraft combined several innovations for that time.
The Ka-50 became the world’s first land combat helicopter of the coaxial type. Thanks to its layout, the Ka-50 gained in thrust-to-weight ratio, and thus, in climbing and static ceiling, high movement speeds, the ability to perform lateral flights and even rearward ones at once, as well as in performing a large number of manoeuvres impracticable by traditional helicopters.
However, reduction of the flight crew to one person became the main innovation. For the purpose of simultaneous piloting and controlling armament, the helicopter was equipped with a highly automated surveillance and navigation systems for the first time ever in the USSR.
Scientists from the Zhukovsky Central AeroHydrodynamic Institute made an important contribution to the flight performance of the Ka-50. They designed glass-carbon plastic rectangular blades along with high-speed sections and arrow-shaped blade tips specifically for this helicopter. Such a layout allowed the screws to withstand high overloads. Also, it reduced vibrations and provided a significant speed margin to the flutter boundary in case of translational flight. As a result, the Ka-50 turned out to be more compact, lighter, and easier to control.
In 1993, the fighting machine appeared in the movie “Black Shark.” After that, the Ka-50 firmly earned this nickname, by which it is still known.