Already in the 1990s this helicopter was conceived as a replacement for the many Mi-8/Mi-17s operating worldwide. Development was slow and until now onlt a handful Mi-38s have been built, far less than the number of Mi-8s and Mi-17s in the same time frame.
The Mi-38 has a larger fuselage than the Mi-8/Mi-17, with a rear loading ramp. There are five square cabin windows on both sides. On top of the fuselage, besides the gear box assembly, are two turboshaft engines. The tail boom is relatively short. At the end are horizontal stabilisers on both sides, and above a vertical stabiliser with an open four blade tail rotor on the right side. Typical is that the angle between the tail rotor blades is not equal. The Mi-38 has a similar fixed landing gear, with a two wheel nose gear and single wheel main landing gears. The latter are attached to the bottom side of the fuselage with short struts.
The different versions of the Mi-38 can externally be distinguish by
- the size of the cabin windows
- the shape of the engine exhaust
Originally, Mil cooperated with western companies, which provided amongst others avioncs and engines. The Mi-38-1 is powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. The exhausts of these engines are slightly pointing up. Has the equally sized cabin windows that were typical for the prototypes. Due to sanctions this version could not be further developed and built.
Mi-38-2 & Mi-38T
The Mi-38-2 is the fully Russian-made version of the Mi-38. It has two Klimov engines, that fit in the same nacelles as the Pratt & Whitneys. However, the exhausts are not tilted up. The prototypes still had equally sized cabin windows, but production models have four larger square windows on the left and three on the right. The other cabin windows remain the same size.
The Mi-38T is the dedicated military version, but this seems to be not different from the Mi‑38‑2.
Confusion possible with
Mil Mi-8/Mi-17 family
This was the predecessor of the Mi-38. Especially, the versions with a 'dolphin nose' as shown here look similar. The Mi-8 family has a shorter fuselage and longer tail boom though. The tail rotor has three blades with equal angles between and the horizontal stabilisers are placed more to the front. Additionally, the main landing gear struts are longer and attached to the upper side of the fuselage. Finally, the engines are located in front of the main rotor.
The fuselage of the AW101 is probably what is most similar to that of the Mi-38. The AW101 has three engines though, a retractable gear and sponsons at the side of the fuselage. The tail rotor on the left side has four blades with equal angles between and there is a single horizontal stabiliser on the right side.
This derivative of the S-61/Sea King has more in common with the Mi-38 than the original. It has a loading ramp at the rear of the fuselage. The fusleage has a boat shape. The Sikorsky also has large sponsons and an all two wheel retractable gear. The S-61R and CH-3/HH-3 variants have a five blade tail rotor on the left. They also have a high mounted horizontal stabiliser on the right and two engines on top of the fuselage, in front of the main rotor mast.
The S-92 is somewhat bigger than the Mi-38. It has a less distinctive tail boom. The S-92 has a retractable gear, with the two wheel main gear retracting in large sponsons. The four blade tail rotor with equally distanced blades is slightly canted.