The design that eventually became the NK 12 turboprop was developed after World War II by a team of deported German engineers under Ferdinand Brandner, which had worked for Junkers before. Thus, the NK 12 design evolved from late war German turboprop studies. This started with the post-war development of the wartime Jumo 022 turboprop design that developed 6000 eshp in a 3000 kg engine. The effort continued with a 5000 ehp engine that weighed in at 1700 kg, completed by 1947. The evolution to the TV-12 12000 Ehp engine required extensive use of new Soviet-developed alloys and was completed in 1951.
The engine has a 14-stage axial-flow compressor, producing compression ratios between 9:1 to 13:1 depending on altitude, also controlled by variable inlet guide vanes and blow-off valves. The combustion system used is a cannular-type: each flame tube is centrally mounted on a down-stream injector that ends in an annular secondary region. The contra-rotating propellers and compressor are driven by the 5-stage axial turbine. Mass flow is 65 kg (143 lb) /sec.