The Yak-24 (NATO name “Horse”) wa a transport helicopter created by Yakovlev helicopters of the old USSR. The Yak-24 first took flight in 1952 and was officially introduced in 1955.
Development for the Horse took place in a post-WWII world where the USA and USSR were competing fiercely. It was felt at the time that the US was ahead in helicopter design and the Soviet Union published design requirements that would help them catch up.
Yakovlev received a contract to design a large transport helicopter that could accommodate 24 passengers. The development of the horse was directly ordered by Joseph Stalin himself.
The rotors were developed by the more experienced Mil design bureau, with the rest designed by Yakovlev.
The fuselage was made from steel tubing covered with cloth. The final design used a tandem-rotor configuration that has proven effective for heavy-lift helicopters. This is why the Yak-24 was also suitable as a flying crane, with an external load capacity of 5000 kg.
The production model of the Horse exceeded some of the required specifications. It could accommodate 30 troops, 18 stretchers or 3000 kg of internal load.
The later Yak-24U could carry 40 troops and an extra 500 kg of cargo. There was also a proposed civilian variant which could carry 30 passengers at once. However the civilian variant as well as a VIP transport model never reached production.
After being introduced, the Horse set two payload records. It was able to lift a 2000 kg load to 5082 meters and 4000 kg to 2902 meters.
No one knows exactly how many Yak-24 craft were produced, but the best estimated puts the number between 40 and 100 aircraft. It seems that production was slowed by technical issues and the fact that the Mil Mi-6 was capable of fulfilling the heavy-lift role the Yak-24 was originally commissioned for.