YaK-24. A Soviet heavy troop-carrier helicopter from 1952. The biggest in the world and the first in the USSR twin-engine and tandem rotor layout helicopter. Nickname – “The flying railroad car”. Two world lifting records. Flight range – 265 km, max. speed – 175 km/h, ceiling – 4200 m, cargo weight – 2000 kg, crew – 3.
The Yakovlev Yak-24 (NATO reporting name “Horse”) is a Soviet twin-engine, tandem rotor, transport helicopter developed by Yakovlev in the 1950s. The Yak-24 saw limited use in the Soviet Air Force, and the exact number produced and duration of service are unknown due to inconsistencies in data.
In September 1951, following a meeting of Joseph Stalin with senior aircraft designers the Soviet Union issued two design specifications for helicopters, with the intent of rapidly accelerating Soviet helicopter development. The requirement for a medium-sized helicopter which could transport 12 people was issued to the Mil Design Bureau, which would result in the Mil Mi-4, while the requirement for a larger helicopter capable of transporting 24 people was given to the Yakovlev Design Bureau under Alexander Yakovlev.
Prototypes of both types had to be flying within a year – ‘unlimited support’ was to be provided for these two programmes by the national research institutes. Yakovlev made two prototypes for flight testing, and one more for static and dynamic ground tests. The first prototype was flown on 3 July 1952. It was powered with two 1,268 kW (1,700 hp) Shvetsov ASh-82V radial engines and was built in a tandem rotor layout, which was not typical for Soviet helicopters, which soon brought it the nickname Letayushchiy Vagon (Russian: Летающий вагон) – ‘the Flying Railroad Car’. The engines and transmission system were identical to the already-proven single-engine Mil Mi-4, but the Yak-24 proved to be less successful.
Its engines were linked together so each could drive one or both rotors, but such an arrangement caused strong vibrations in the airframe. After the problems were partially solved, the new helicopter was ordered for production by the Soviet Air Force, which began in 1955 at Factory No. 272 in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg).