It was also completely useless.
Pour one out for the Mil V-12, or “Homer” by its NATO codename. Built by Mil Design Bureau, this humongous aircraft had the capacity to carry 196 passengers in its cargo bay or airlift up to 40,000 kg (88,000 pounds) and fly as high as 2,255 m (7,398 feet) with this kind of payload. It was huge, a true engineering wonder and, by the time the second prototype was built and supposed to go into production, it had been rendered useless.
It employed a double-rotor configuration, and it is believed to have been the first aircraft ever to use two rotors side by side. Power came from two Soloviev D-25VF turbo-shaft engines, borrowed from predecessor Mil Mi-6. Also borrowed from it were the gearbox and the rotors. The top speed was 260 kph (160 mph) and the range was 500 km (310 miles).
Soviet engineers started studying the development of the V-12 in 1959 when they realized they would have a better way of transporting intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to remote regions to hide them if they didn’t have to build railroads leading to these hiding places. Back then, the U.S. was deploying spy planes to detect and monitor this kind of activity in the USSR, and they had figured out that, in order to get to a secret missile base, all they had to do was follow the new railroad. Follow the breadcrumbs, and all that.
The V-12 used the Mi-6’s engine, gearbox, and rotor in a side-by-side configuration, but it came with a much larger fuselage and a myriad of modifications and adjustments in order to go up in the air – and stay there, cargo and all.
The project was greenlit in 1962, but it would be another six years before the first successful flight. In 1971, the V-12 was presented at the Paris Air Show, much to the shock and surprise of the entire world. NATO, in particular, wasn’t sure what the USSR planned to do with this kind of massive aircraft.
Two prototypes of the V-12 were built before the project was canceled. One of them is still found at the Central Air Force Museum, one of the largest military museums in the world, situated at the Monino Airfield, 40 km (24.8 miles) east of Moscow, in Russia. Once travel restrictions lift and you’re in the area, consider dropping by to see this jetliner-sized helicopter that never amounted to much.