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Mil Mi-8/Mi-17

Mil Mi-8/Mi-17 Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2005 Title Mil Mi-8/Mi-17
Author Yefim Gordon Publisher Midland Publications
Published 2003 ISBN 1-85780-161-X
Format 128 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


In the mid-1960s, the US started transitioning from the piston-powered H-34 to the turbine-powered UH-1. At the same time, the US was getting deeper in the war in Vietnam. The helicopter came of age as a multi-role machine, taking everything from troop transport, ambulance, close air support, command and control, supply hauler, and more.

The Soviets observed many of the lessons learned from the Americans' use of the helicopter and applied them in the design of their own first turbine-powered utility helicopter, the Mil Mi-8 (NATO Codename: HIP). The Mi-8 replaced the Mi-4 (NATO Codename: HOUND) which bore a resemblance to the US H-34. Nobody could possibly mistake an Mi-8 for a UH-1! Unlike the US Army's Huey, the Mi-8 was twin-engined aircraft held aloft under a five-bladed main rotor. Like the UH-1, the Mi-8 would be adapted into similar missions as its American counterpart. Unlike the UH-1, the Mi-8 had greater capacity and performance. In fact, the Mi-8 still has greater capacity and performance (except for cruise speed) as the UH-1's replacement, the UH-60 Blackhawk!

Of course Yefim Gordon was going to address this important aircraft in Soviet/Russian aviation history. Together with author Dmitriy Komissarov, Gordon walks us through the development history of the Mi-8 and its next generation, the Mi-17. A nice breakdown of production versions is provided, looking at the variety of mods and pods used to adapt the airframe to a wide variety of missions. From a casual observer's point of view, the only major visible difference between the basic Mi-8 airframe and the Mi-17 airframe is the tail rotor. The Mi-8's tail rotor is on the left side of the tail, the Mi-17's is on the right. Of course there are a few exceptions to this rule...

The only subject not covered in this title, unfortunately, is the application of a boat hull to the bottom of the Mi-8 rendering the Mi-14 (NATO Codename: HAZE) which is equivalent to the US Navy SH-3 Sea King.

Coverage of this title does include:

  • Introduction
  • The Mi-8 is Born
  • The First Generation - Production & Updates
  • The Second Generation - Mi-8 Turns Mi-17
  • The Mi-8 in Detail
  • The Universal Soldier
  • Peaceful Duties
  • The E-Mi-grants
  • ... and the Rest of the Gang - Mi-8 vs the Competition

This title is well-illustrated with drawings and black & white photos of each production sub-type of the Mi-8/Mi-17 family. In the last chapter, there is an interesting table comparing the dimensions and performance of the Mi-8/Mi-17 against many of its world-wide contemporaries. It is very impressive to see how this older design still outperforms (or at least holds its own against) many of the new aircraft coming into service. At the end of the title is a section with 30 color photographs of Mi-8/Mi-17s in service around the world.

This is another nice historical piece from Midland Publications and fills a void in the published information about this aircraft. Definitely recommended!