Why does the Kamov Ka-50 Black Shark have two coaxial rotors? Is this a better design than a conventional one rotor?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Please do a little basic research before asking here. In this case, your question is already answered by the Wikipedia article about this particular helicopter. If there's something you don't understand in the explanation there, ask a question about that. $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2016 at 12:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby If we refused to answer questions that already have a relevant Wikipedia article, this site would be a lot smaller :-) The community consensus so far is that we should answer as many questions as possible, even if answers are already available elsewhere. Having said that, I do agree with you that people who do some research first usually ask better questions. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Oct 5, 2016 at 13:12
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @Pondlife It's a perfectly valid question: Why does a helicopter have two stacked rotors instead of one? P.S., some people don't trust Wikipedia. Another possibility is that newbies don't understand what the wiki is trying to explain, especially a relevant term like "coaxial rotors". $\endgroup$
    – DrZ214
    Nov 15, 2016 at 21:18

2 Answers 2


The ka-50, like other coaxial rotor designs, use their contra-spinning rotors to cancel out the torque in the same way a traditional helicopter uses it's tail rotor.

A traditional single rotor: Source

Contra-rotating rotors:


There are a few benefits of the contra-rotating setup, such as

  • Reduced vibration
  • Reduced likelihood of settling with power
  • Reduced likelihood of anti-torque failure during flight.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @KorvinStarmast The term is quite complicated, but luckily there is a question that addresses what it is. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Oct 5, 2016 at 12:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @KorvinStarmast I specifically linked that phrase to the canonical question right here, because I guessed it may not be a familiar term. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Oct 5, 2016 at 12:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ poor question, but +1 for the mesmerizing gif! $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Oct 5, 2016 at 12:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And I always thought that the biggest benefit of using coaxial rotors is dynamic stability. $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2023 at 15:37

I'll add another point to the Jamiec's answer, which particularly applies to Ka-50.

A coaxial helicopter is almost symmetric, and it is much easier to fly it. This is largely why they dared to create a single-seat combat helicopter in the first place: the pilot could fly it (at a low altitude!) and still have enough attention span for weaponry.

It is also astonishingly manoeuvrable, particularly in yaw (with respect to comparable classic designs). A classic helicopter would need an oversized tail prop to achieve the same angular speed (at least in one direction), which would be a hindrance for normal flying. The gun turret on Ka-50 has very limited horizontal (left and right) aiming range, which is used only for automatic aiming adjustments. This is because it is easier to aim the whole helicopter, even when it's flying with a substantial speed.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .