June 2023

Mi-24V Crocodile (Hind-E)

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Mil Mi-24V Crocodile (Hind-E)

Ukrainian Army Aviation - 16th Separate Army Aviation Brigade

Eastern Ukraine

Hobby Boss 1/72 with Foxbot Decals

Revell  1/72  with  modifications

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The Mi-24 was designed by the USSR in the mid 1960s as a heavily armed helicopter gunship that could also ferry Soviet troops across the battlefield. Using the same underlying components as the Mi-8 Hip transport helicopter, it entered Soviet service in 1971 and has served with most Soviet client states through to the present day.  The airframe has been constantly updated with new weapons and sensors, evolving into the the most recent Mi-35 export variants.  Although it is fast in level flight, the large airframe is not  the most manoeuvrable design, especially when fully loaded, or carrying a troop load (of up to 10 ).  

Hinds first came to prominence during the 1980s Soviet-Afghan war,  where it proved highly effective, but very vulnerable to infra-red anti aircraft missiles due to its engine and exhaust configuration.   With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, Hinds were inherited by many Soviet successor states, including several NATO nations .

Ukraine has operated the Mi-24 since it gained its independence, inheriting many former Soviet aircraft. and it is  estimated that around 34 Mi-24s remained in service at the end of 2021.  Prior to the 2022 Russian Invasion, a detachment of Ukrainians Mi-24s flew thousands of combat missions supporting UN peacekeepers in Congo, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

During the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and related destabilisation of the Donbas region,  Ukrainian Mi-24s suffered high losses at the hands of Russian-backed (and armed) rebels.  Following this, in late 2014 , Kyiv began to re-activate and modernise stored Mi-24s  in conjunction with the French company SAGEM, including setting up a local main rotor blade manufacturing facility in 2021, fitting more powerful engines, night operation capabilities, laser designators and a modern missile countermeasures suite.  

The Ukrainians have generally remained tight-lipped about Mi-24 operations over the last year, although it is known that they were very active during the counter assault that defeated the initial Russian attack on Hostomel Airport near Kyiv.  Mi-24s also conducted the strikes against  the Belgorad oil facilities within Russia, as well as escorting the famous relief missions into besieged Mariupol.  Russia claims to have destroyed many Ukrainian Mi-24s, but thus far, the Ukrainians have only confirmed one loss.  

More recently, several of Ukraine’s  neighbours have offered to transfer their own Mi-24s to the Ukrainians, with ex-Czechian aircraft arriving and commencing operations in early 2023.

Building the Hobby Boss Mi-24 Kit:

Having decided that I wanted to build a Mil Mi-24 Hind to go with my Ukrainian Mi-17 Hip, a quick check of online reviews suggested that the Hobby Boss kit was the best current choice.  Unfortunately it is a Mi-24V, rather than the Mi-24P more commonly in use with the Ukrainian Armed Forces during the current conflict. There are Mi-24P kits in 1/72, notably the Zvezda model, but at the moment I am applying my own sanctions on Russian produced kits, which I will not buy. The italeri kit is also available as a Mi-24P, but is a much older and less detailed kit.  So the Hobby Boss kit it is !  

The Ukrainians have operated a fair number of Mi-24Vs in the past, and the 2 aircraft known (so far) to have been transferred from the Czech Republic are also Mi-24Vs. I cannot find any current pictures of operational Mi-24Vs, but the Ukrainians have been very close lipped about Mi-24 operations in general, so it is not impossible that they either exist, or are perhaps being held in reserve.  To add to my build, I sourced a set of Foxbot decals* from the Ukraine, although the only ones I could get hold of are (strangely enough) for Mi-24Ps. Foxbot also produce a set of Mi-24V decals, but these were not immediately available, so I have had to do some improvisation !

(* Foxbot are donating a proportion of their income from these decals to the local "Return Alive" charity, to support Ukrainian veterans and current military personnel.)

As with all Hobby Boss kits, it is clear that thought and engineering skill have gone into the design of this mould.  The cockpit is superb, with well defined instruments, sidewalls and flight controls (including a collective).  The troop cabin is included as part of this, with its own well moulded roof and interior.  A quick visit to the Helicopter Museum at Weston Super Mare helpfully allowed me to confirm some of the details and colours on the museum's aircraft (an ex-East German one), although that particular aircraft has a second set of seats in the forward position, which are missing from the Hobby Boss kit.

Link to more Ukrainian aircraft on my Friends and Allies pages

Assembling the cockpit and roof brought my first small issue - the vertical rails for the troop seats are not symmetrical; although not shown in the instructions, you need to ensure that the shorter one is aft, to mate with the roof when it is applied. The two engine exhausts are assembled and fitted at this point. My experience with the Mi-17 kit suggested that their positioning would be very critical, so I left them off until I joined the fuselage halves. They are not such a tight fit as the Mi-18, but doing so also allowed me time to smooth out the joints, as the small parts are not a good fit.

The second area of difficulty was the main undercarriage.  This is very nicely engineered, but the diagram on the instruction sheet is very small and vague.  After struggling with one side, I found that the second went together much more easily when I assembled the legs first, then attached them to the wheel well.  The two fuselage halves fitted together very nicely, with no need for filler., only a little sanding of some seams on completion.  I did end up with a small gap at the nose, but was able to sand this away without filler. The canopy is acceptable, clear, but quite thick.  It is also a single piece, so the two entrance hatches could not be posed open.  Unfortunately has a very visible seam down the middle of its top surface. After trying a gentle polish, I had to sand this down, resulting in some extensive re-polishing afterward.

The kit provides an impressive range of armament, much of which is not appropriate for Ukraine, but a welcome addition to the spares box.  Based on reference pictures of actual Ukrainian aircraft, I chose the B-8V20A 80mm rocket launcher and PTB-450 long range fuel tank.


The superbly detailed kit cockpit. The thick distorted canopy makes this difficult to see once built

For the colour scheme, I have chosen a "representative" scheme, based on the Foxbot decals (I am a little reluctant to model an actual aircraft whilst live operations are continuing).  The decal sheet suggested a base colour of marine grey (?) but after looking at many online pictures and comparing them with the machine at the Helicopter museum, I chose to use Humbrol Light Stone (121), with Marine Green (105) splotches.  For the main rotor head, I added some additional detail in the form of hydraulic (air) lines made from copper wire.

The Foxbot decals went on most satisfactorily. They are quite thin, but robust and stretchy.  I understand that the black lettering on the white tail stripes is a rude insult to Vladimir Putin that is worn by several Ukrainian aircraft !  To my relief, the completed model is NOT a tail-sitter.

Overall, this is a nice kit to build, with few real problems.  The canopy seam is disappointing, and the canopy itself is very thick, which is a shame, given the superb cockpit detail.  Hobby Boss’ instructions are not the best, but I have seen worse.  I can’t comment on the kit decals (Russian and Iraqi) as I didn’t use any of them, but Hobby Boss are usually good (if not always accurate).

Background Picture - The cockpit instrument panel of a Mi-24

Below: A selection of Hinds/Crocodiles from Czechia and Hungary at the RIAT air show

and an ex-East German example at The Helicopter museum Weston Super Mare

With my Ukrainian Mi-17 / 8MT model from last year