The unusually configured but useful Kamov Ka26 remains in widespread civil service in many former Soviet states.
The Ka26 (which has the NATO code name `Hoodlum') first flew in prototype form in 1965, but it did not enter service until 1970. However since then approximately 850 have been built for mainly civil service.
The uniquely configured Ka26 features two counter rotating main propellers, a Kamov characteristic that negates the need for an anti torque tail rotor. Other features include the two podded radial piston engines mounted either side of the fuselage, and the removable and exchangeable rear fuselage.
The interchangeable cabin means that the Ka26 can perform a wide variety of missions, including passenger and freight transport, air ambulance, aerial survey, and search and rescue among others with a special mission specific rear fuselage pod fitted as needed. The fuselage pod can also be removed and the aircraft instead equipped with a chemical hopper and booms for crop spraying, or it can work as an aerial crane and can also carry sling loads of freight.
The Ka26 is no longer in production, although it has been developed into the turbine powered and modernised Ka126 which first flew in 1986. Development of the Ka-126 continued into the mid 1990s but production was never undertaken.
Kamov is currently working on the improved Ka-226A. Enhancements include a new rotor system with hingless hubs and glass fibre blades, changes to the airframe including a reprofiled nose. Power is from two 335kW (450shp) Allison 250-C20R/2 turboshafts. First flight was on September 4 1997.
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