Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute
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TsAGI centenary in the history of aviation: the Mi-1 helicopter

12 September 2018

The first Soviet serial-produced helicopter Mi-1 set 27 world records. It was reliable and easy-to-use, and was used by the USSR in both the armed forces and civil aviation, e.g., in agriculture, mail and goods delivery, and medical and casualty evacuation.

The history of the Mi-1 creation began in the postwar years, when the interest in helicopters was rekindled. A special laboratory on helicopter design issues and spin study was organized by an initiative of Soviet scientist and designer Mikhail Mil by order of the Chief of the Central AeroHydrodynamic Institute at the beginning of 1947. Mil headed the laboratory himself after graduating from TsAGI gyroplanes and helicopter development with vast experience in these platforms. Mil challenged members of the laboratory to rapidly develop an industrial design project for a single-rotor helicopter.

The first step of this work was the establishment at the Institute of a full-scale helicopter installation NGU-1, containing the basic units of the planned future aircraft — the future Mi-1. The laboratory was intended for full-scale rotary wing testing in the large wind tunnel T-101. A number of original technical solutions were used during the Mi-1 prototype designing: rotary wing with inertial dampers controlling the system, equipped later with a non-reversible hydraulic actuator; collective pitch control and engine power control systems interconnection in a single collective pitch system; and deicing system for blades and rotors.

In 1948-1949, the aircraft factory in Kiev built three experienced helicopter. First ascents in the air on a prototype of the MI-1 — the GM-1 (Gyelikopter Mila, Mil’s Helicopter) took place on the Zakharkovo airfield in September 20, 1948. State testing went on, and in February 21, 1950, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a decision on serial production of the MI-1. More than 2.5 thousand helicopters were constructed in our country during 1957-1960. Three hundred machines were produced under license in Poland in 1957-1960.

The helicopter had good flight characteristics, but was sensitive to side winds and sometimes had rotary wing flutter. Its powerful 580 HP engine provided high power loading and saved the situation.

The Mi-1 was used as a communications helicopter in the Army and later became a training machine. Its modifications were applied abroad: in China police operations, in Iraq to suppress Kurdish rebellions, in Cuba to eliminate armed opposition units. After other priority helicopter development, the Mi-1 was used less and less. The last one was officially produced in 1983.

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