Friday, January 21, 2022
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Hind: The Soviet Flying Tank

This article was originally published in RC Heli Pilot February/March 2016 issue.

The Soviet Flying Tank-1We’ve been on a bit of a scale model kick over the past few issues and while the lure and beauty of such machines might be lost on many of the younger generation, there are still a great many of us who hold specific models near and dear to us. Whatever the reason may be, these aircraft are special, for one reason or another. I grew up watching TV shows like M.A.S.H. and other such programs featuring early helicopters. The first time, however, that I saw a machine and couldn’t think of any plot lines in the story was when Red Dawn was released and had plenty of footage of the Soviet Hind (Mil Mi-24) helicopter.

The Hind was originally designed by Mikhail Leont’yevich Mil in response to the success and effectiveness of the attack helicopters of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Russians being Russians, they opted for a design that dwarfed every other machine in the world. The Soviet brass eventually settled on a 10.5 ton, twin 1700 hp engine beast that wasn’t only capable of high speed attacks, but also served as a troop transport for groups of up to eight. In the story line of Red Dawn (in addition to many other action flicks from the 80’s), the Hind heli is a menacing monster that always seems to creep up when the American rebels are at their lowest. Creeping up couldn’t be closer to the truth.

The Soviet Flying Tank-2During the Afghan war in the 1980’s, the Hind was forced to adapt to extreme conditions. The dusty, dry climates and ever present sand created the need for more efficient air filters to keep the engine internals operable. Once the Afghan rebels were supplied with stinger missiles by the CIA, the Soviet pilots revised their attack methods from a high and steep angle of attack to hugging the ground and popping up at the last moment to blast their targets off the map. Throughout the Afghan conflict, the Soviets reported that up to 80 Hind helis were lost to battle, but owing much to their late designer’s ingenuity, most of the aircraft made it back to their bases before eventually being scrapped. Being classified as the world’s only “Assault Helicopter” (both an attack machine and troop transport), the Hind was in a class of its own. Sure the American Huey could fill both rolls, but not at the same time. In order to be able to carry a full load of troops, the Huey had to be stripped of nearly all of its armament to account for the added weight of personnel and fuel. For this reason (and its massively intimidating size), the Hind was both widely feared and respected.

The cockpit of the Mil Mi-24 was something to behold in and of itself. It’s a two-place cockpit with room for the pilot and weapons operator. I’m sure many of you remember the scene from Rambo where Stallone downs the Russian Hind with an explosive laced arrow, right? Right. Facts are though, the Hind canopy has ballistic rated glass that can stop anything up to a 50mm round. Talk about durability and protection for the crew!

As of 2014, variants of the Hind were still in use in various conflicts around the world. The Polish, Bulgarian and Libyan forces have either been using them or supplying them to services in need of some serious intimidation factor and imminently supreme defense for crew members. My only question is, why don’t we see more of these at scale competi- tions? There you go folks, the challenge is yours… should you accept it!