If 52 corresponds to the alligator, what color should the shark have to correspond to 50? Of course, it is black, as the Ka-50 helicopter is nicknamed “Black Shark,” while Ka-52 – “Alligator.”
The word “helicopter” is much younger than the equipment. Initially, they were named “helicopter,” in a foreign manner. And it was not a linguist or a poet but a designer who coined and introduced this word. It was Nikolay Ilyich Kamov.
Nikolay Kamov was a fellow student of Khariton Slavorossov, a Russian pilot, Sergeant of the French aviation, who received two French orders for the air feats during the World War I. And how can you not get infected with the sky? In 1928, Kamov read an article in a magazine about the Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva who built an autogyro and flew from Paris to London and wanted to build one, too.
Autogyro is an aircraft with a propeller that is powered not by the engine, but by the incoming air flow. In partnership with Nikolay Skrzhinsky, Kamov created the first Soviet autogyro named KaSkr-1 Krasny Inzhener. Then, they built KaSkr-2. The country’s leadership liked this autogyro and Kamov was appointed head of the design team at the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (CAHI). Kamov’s team included Tupolev and Polikarpov who later became worldwide renowned. Kamov’s autogyros were used in the military. One of them, A-7, even took part in the Great Patriotic War.
Over time, it turned out that autogyros had no future. In order to achieve a vertical takeoff of the aircraft, they needed helicopters. This is when Nikolay Ilyich coined a word that enriched the Russian language. It conveniently blended two meanings: “vert,” which could be interpreted as abbreviations of such words, as “vertikalno” (vertically) and “vertitsya” (rotating). The helicopter can really fly vertically and actually rotates.
Under command of Kamov, the team built six helicopters. The worldwide famous Ka-50 and Ka-52 were designed after the death of Nikolay Ilyich. But they featured his ideas.