Aviation watchers and media are left stunned as a Russian KA-52 helicopter returned to base after its tail got broken while on a reconnaissance mission in Ukraine.
Several Ukraine based social media users posted a video of the incident on June 19. The footage showed Russian Ka-52 flying without the end part of its tail section or keel which is meant to provide stability in the slip angle of the aircraft.
Several objects can be seen falling off the Ka-52 at the start the video. As the video continues, the helicopter continues to flying low and quite stable at that.
Some analysts suspected that the tail section may have got damaged when an anti-tank projectile brushed against it while others said the helicopter suffered failure of one engine and had to jettison a fuel tank which may have blown towards the tail section due to head winds.
What probably saved the helicopter and its crew is the co-axial rotor design of the KA-52 which eliminates the need for a tail rotor besides providing it extreme maneuverability.
“Even without the need for a tail rotor, a helicopter’s shape plays a major part in its stability. Flying with its tail blown off speaks volumes of its design features that ensure survivability in extreme circumstances,” wrote aviation enthusiast Jeff Bowles on Twitter.
A photo of the helicopter after landing shows a part of the broken and precariously hanging from the fuselage.
American publication, ‘The Drive,’ noted that unusual design features of the Ka-52 helicopter allow it to continue flying even in the absence of a significant part of its tail.
“From the angle of the video, it was probably filmed from the cockpit of another accompanying helicopter. It is not known where and when this happened, but most likely near the Black Sea as a part of coastline is visible in the video,” Russian publication, Topcor.ru noted.