Using a winch, the Mil Mi-10 could lift 15 tons and travel at 120 mph fully loaded. Immediately after unveiling, the helicopter set the load-to-altitude world record at 33,000 pounds at 7,631 feet. But it was unique in another way as well.
The Mil Mi-10’s long legs allowed a platform to be fastened at the wheelbase to hold large cargo of up to 12 tons. This allowed it to carry items such as full-size vehicles and even pre-fabricated buildings into hard-to-reach areas. In what undoubtedly was a handy feature, the helicopter could taxi over the target and connect the platform carrying the load via hydraulic fasteners to take on a payload. And if what was being transported was a car, the platform didn’t need to be removed upon landing as the vehicle could just drive off it.
In 1966, a modified version of the Mi-10, the Mi-10K debuted. This variant was designed for civil use, weighing less and sporting shorter legs. Uniquely, at the bottom of the craft was a glass cockpit where a crane could be operated. When working in construction, this was useful in picking up heavy loads and accurately putting them down. The Mi-10K was used for various tasks, such as installing electric line support and building skyscrapers in Moscow.
What may surprise you is that 55 Mil-10s are still in service in Russia. This places the “flying crane” among the oldest military helicopters in service today.