August 2022

Mil Mi-17 Hip-H

Link to Website Index:

Mil Mi-17 (Mi-8MT) Hip-H

Ukrainian Army Aviation, Mariupol, Azovstal Steel Works, March 2022

(Aircraft providing relief to besieged Ukrainian Defenders of the Azovstal Works.)

Hobby Boss 1/72 .with own decals.

Link to Website Index:

<<Link to previous month  Link to Next Month >>


The highly successful Mil Mi-17 helicopter is a development of the Soviet era Mi-8 troop carrier that first flew in 1961. The improved and up-engined Mi-17 followed in 1975, entering active service 5 years later, with over 12,000 built to date.  Designated by NATO as the "Hip-H" it remains in active service around the world, with new aircraft being ordered as recently as 2021.  In Russian service it is known as the Mil Mi-8MT, with the Mi-17 designation reserved for export aircraft.  

Ukraine is (or was) a major user of the Mi-17 with most operated by the Ukrainian Army Aviation, although a smaller number belong to the Ukrainian Air Force. After 5 months of Russian attacks, It is not clear how many Ukrainian Hips remain operational, although it is reported that many more are being supplied by friendly countries to replace losses.

Disclaimer 1: My understanding of the operations to resupply the besieged Azovstal steelworks has been gained from open source internet reporting. I have tried to discern a reliable story from the fog of war and the understandable bias of reporters who are also participants and victims. However, I cannot verify the details or guarantee how much is propaganda or myth, but since they have been repeated by several respected independent news organisations with strong editorial policies, I believe they are at least partly true.

From March 2022 until the middle of May, the Ukrainian Armed Forces organized multiple sorties of Mi-8 helicopters with supplies and relief personnel to support Ukrainian defenders besieged at the huge Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. Using a force of 16 Mil-17 Hip helicopters, a total of 7 missions were flown under Russian fire from Dnipro airport into Mariupol in order to re-supply the Azovstal defenders.  The Mil-17 Hips were stripped of armaments and other systems to reduce their weight and make room for MANPADS, anti-tank missiles and satellite communications terminals.  Wounded Ukrainian personnel were airlifted out for the return journey

It is reported that the first pilot to volunteer for the mission did so because his wife was a combat medic trapped at Azovstal, whom he hoped to evacuate.  I have no details of whether he succeeded in this personal mission, but I hope so.  

Link to YouTube video of the aircraft flying into the Azovstal steel works

Building the Hobby Boss Hip Kit:

This build was inspired by a video (link above) that I watched during my research for the Ghost of Kyiv kit that I built last month.  After watching the clips of the operation, I realised that I had an unmade Hobby Boss Mil-17 sat in the stash that I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with.  I also had some spare Ukrainian decals. Problem solved!

Some of the larger Hobby Boss kits are really very good and this Mil-8MT/Mil-17 Hip definitely falls into that category. With fine crisp mouldings, superb surface details, good parts fit and some very good detail, it is generally a straightforward build.

After last month's MiG-29 and its soft plastic, it was immediately obvious that Hobby Boss have judged the grade of plastic to be used well, neither too soft, nor too hard, with the very fine cabin interior parts detaching easily from the sprue without risk of breakage.  

The cockpit interior is particularly well done, with some very nice details extending into the rear cargo cabin. Here we see some typical Hobby Boss traits, with each of the complex cockpit seats moulded as a detailed single piece (where other manufacturers would have used 3 or 4 parts) and some very sturdy locating holes/tabs to ensure that parts fit correctly.  The rear door can be cut open, but leaving the forward side door open probably allows enough of a view for me and there is very little in the rear cabin to see.

The engine parts are assembled on a raft that attaches to the cabin roof, and here I found a minor pooh-trap - the exhausts need to protrude through the cabin side, but will only do so if they are in the correct position, and their fit is a little loose/vague.  Dry-fitting the two fuselage halves at this point is essential to ensure they will fit afterwards. The rotor main gearbox then sits on a smaller ramp above this, which has some good fixing tabs, but will still need a little care to assemble. I added a couple of machine-gun spigots to cabin windows that I had left open.

Joining the fuselage halves required some  thought, but was accomplished without the need for filler, although tidying up the seams can be difficult due to the very fragile antennae moulded on to the parts. I also found the cabin roof hatch to be slightly too small and not a good fit. The undercarriage is quite fragile due to the superb level of small detail on its parts; it assembles relatively easily, but may not be that strong on completion.  Similarly, the rotor head is nicely engineered, but rather fragile.  

A Mil Mi-17 at the 2021 Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations in Kyiv.

© Crown Copyright UK MoD 45169014 used under OGL)

Those large rotor blades assemble into a rotor disc of around 30cm, so will limit where the kit can be displayed and how it can be stored.  Unfortunately, some parts of the instruction diagram are a little vague, and as a result I assembled one of the main rotor "spiders" upside down, requiring some delicate surgery later in order to get the blades to fit. If I had assembled it correctly in the first place, it would have given an accurate and more solid joint. As it was, I broke off one blade as I attempted to add the flexible pipes that are so prominent on the Hip’s rotor head (which I suspect provide air for blade de-icing boots.

Although Hobby Boss provide markings for Czech, Iraqi and Chinese aircraft (the latter a locally built Mi-117 with some extra parts), I have decided to go for something more topical and use up some spare Ukrainian markings.  Most pictures show Ukrainian aircraft operating with side sponsons carrying guns or missiles.  I understand that the Misterkit model comes with these, but after briefly considering a scratch build, i decided to leave them off to reflect the Mariupol mission I describe above. I did, however, have a go at replicating the locally produced decoy/flare launchers that sit beneath the tail.  

The Ukrainian Hips appear to exist in a very wide variety of camouflage schemes, from a more summery tan and green to wintery dark greens (my choice) and garish light/dark green mixes (why?).  based on photographs, I have gone for Humbrol 75 Bronze Green for the darker colour and Humbrol 105 Marine green for the lighter.  To reflec the many photographs, I added heavy exhaust staining using pencil lead  and pastel powder. Decals are a range of spares from some of my previous builds.

This is a good kit of a topical subject, with some very nice detail and one that assembles relatively easily.  Watch out though, as it will be very fragile (and require a large space) when complete!

Background: A Mil Mi-8PS at the Weston Super mare Helicopter Museum

A Mil Mi-117 of the Czech Air Force at RIAT 2022: