Title: The Mi-2 Helicopter
Authors: Michal Fiszer, Jerzy Gruszczynski, and Tomasz Bylica (Translation - Polish to English)
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The prototype of the Mi-2RS helicopter was built at WSK PZL Swidnik in December, 1977. The first production-specification example, S/N 565350127, was delivered next October (having completed the test programs) to the 49th Army Aviation Wing. Another 12 units were made in May, 1979, and delivered to both of the army aviation wings, and to the „area command" squadrons: the 11th (Wroclaw) and the 26th (Warszawa).

In 1980 the Air Force Command took notice of the possibility of adapting the Mi-2 helicopters for putting up smoke screens. Such screens could be used for protection of assault teams, river crossings, and unit movements on the battlefield at crucial moments. It even turned out that the required solution was really at hand, as the Swidnik R&D Department developed a system for hot aerosol generation for agricultural application. A suitable modification of the system was developed jointly by WSK PZL Swidnik R&D and the Institute of Aviation. Such was the origin of the WDZ-80 system, which had its first presentation on January 16th, 1981, at the military excercise grounds at Rembertowo. The operating principle of the system consisted in the utilisation of the hot engine exhaust gases for the vaporisation and partial burning of a smoke generating agent (in this case - machine oil). The smoke generators were installed on external brackets on the rear part of the helicopter fuselage. The WZD-80 system was retrofitted, during the nineteen eighties, on amost all Mi-2RS helicopters built earlier, as well as on two Mi-2RM's operated by the Navy Aviation (for the protection of marine assault teams). When the system was retrofitted on the Mi-2RS helicopters, their designation was changed to Mi-2Ch. Moreover, in 1982, WSK PZL Swidnik built another four „chemical" helicopters to the military Mi-2Ch specification.

Mi-2 with Smoke Screen Mi-2 with special equipment for creation of smoke screen. Taken by: Jerzy Gruszczynski

The photogrammetric helicopters operated by the mlitary were still another variant of the Mi-2, the military designation for which was Mi-2FM. Both of them (serial numbers 512121121 i 512122121) were built in December, 1971, and delivered to the 49th Army Aviation Wing several months later. Some time later they were transferred to the 42nd Liaison Aviation Squadron at Warsaw. The helicopters were operated for cartographic projects. Their equipment was the WILD RC-8, made in the GDR, installed in the rear part of the fuselage bottom. The camera was protected by a two-piece sideways opening shutter. In the rear of the cabin a special exposure meter was installed, and a special photo sight was located next to the instrument panel. For may years the helicopters served not only the military projects, but were employed for civil jobs as well.

There were also a number of specialized variants of the Mi-2 which were developed for civil requirements. One example of an interesting civil variant was the so-called "TV version" of the Mi-2, built in the seventies to the order of the Polish TV. The primary function of the helicopter was to provide an aerial reporting platform, serving large-scale sports events, such as the Peace Race. It could also be put to other uses, including large rescue operations (eg. in case of floods), in which information gathering from inaccessible areas, for situation assessment purposes, was very important. The primary equipment of the TV helicpter was a professional TV camera, installed on an outriger on the outside of the starboard side cockpit door. In the cabin of the helicpter TV transmitters were installed, permitting image and sound (on-board commentator's voice) transmission to the ground stations. TV transmission antennae were installed on the main landing gear struts.

In 1978 Swidnik received an order, from the Polish Academy of Sciences, for a very specialized equipment kit for the Mi-2. The task of the Mi-2 to be converted according to the order was to support the operation of the Polish arctic bases in the Antarctic. Therefore, the helicopter had to be adapted for operations in severe arctic climatic conditions. The modifications included changes to the electrical systems (additional batteries to compensate for the low temperature efficiency drop), and to the cabin heating and blade deicing systems. Moreover, the „arctic" version of the helicopter received additional searchlights and navigational equipment to facilitate autonomous navigation under polar conditions. A total of four helicopters were converted to that specification, two of which were actually used in the Antarctic. Their operation there was proof that the Mi-2 helicopter could fly virtually anywhere, from the tropics to the polar regions.

One of the civil operators of the Mi-2 helicopters was the Przedsiebiorstwo Uslug Lotniczych „Aeropol" („Aeropol" Aerial Services Company) set up in 1974 by the Ministry of Transport. In the period of 1975-1979, „Aeropol" took delivery of a total of 20 Mi-2 helicopters, manufactured by WSK PZL Swidnik. Some of the helicopters operated by Aeropol were used for inspection flights along high voltage power lines. For the purpose the helicopters were equipped with special thermovision cameras for the detection of insulator damage and line overheating at junctions. The first inspection flights along 220 kV and 110 kV lines were performed in the Central and the Bydgoszcz Power Regions. The flights showed that the application of helicopters for power line inspection permits the elimination of long (many hours') breaks in energy supply, and facilitates the repair an maintenance of power lines. Apart from power line inspection, Aeropol used its helicopters for the aerial inspection of oil and gas pipelines, as well as for fire patrol of national forests.

Several Mi-2 helicopters were adapted for the requirements of the State Radio Inspection. The helicopters were used for a variety of measurements of electromagnetic radiation and wave propagation. Externally, they could be told apart from other Mi-2's by their external antennae installed on the nose of the helicopters.

Mi-2 of Soviet Air Force Mi-2 was widely used by Soviet Air Force and is still used by Russian Air Force, mainly in independent liaison flights, attached to missile rocket brigades. Taken by: OKB MiL

In September 1979, a ceremony took place at WSK PZL Swidnik to celebrate the delivery of Mi-2 helicopter number three thousand. It happened to be an agricultural version. In 1990 helicopter number five thousand was made, and by 1998 a total of 5418 Mi-2 helicopters were manufactured, in a variety of versions and variants.

Mi-2 helicopter deliveries to the Polish military stopped in 1984. Altogether, the Polish armed forces procured about 285 helicopters of the type (the Polish armed forces were the largest Polish operator of the Mi-2's). Over a 100 Mi-2's were used in Poland for agricultural work, another 40 units flew in the Ambulance Aviation Groups, and 20 were operated by Aeropol. Apart from those numbers, some Mi-2 helicopters were operated by various state institutions and industrial organisations, which brings the total of Mi-2 helicopters operated in Poland to about 500 units. All the remaining Mi-2's (close to 5000!) were exported, the greater part of the export going to the Soviet Union.

Today a considerable number of Mi-2's are still in operation, in Poland as well as in many ther countries, which makes the Swidnik product one of the most popular helicopters in the world.

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