Review by Sven Atkin.
The Mi-24 ‘Hind’ attack helicopter has always been an intriguing machine because of its aggressive looks and how little was known of its development and subsequent service with Russia and former Eastern Bloc countries. Today’s ‘Hind’ variants have come a long way since the very first V-24 prototype took to the air. This book documents the doctrine, technical development and concepts of how the Russian military worked with the MIL OKB Design Bureau to develop this formidable rotary wing platform.
It is worth mentioning the first-class English translation by David Johnston. It makes for a very easy and comprehensive read. A nice touch is the foreword by the author who gives his account of writing the book and how he came to be involved with the Mi-24. This is something many readers, including me, will identify with, irrespective of which aircraft is of particular interest to you.
The first chapter details the requirement and concept of the Flying Armoured Personnel Carrier. This gives some insight into the thinking and reasons why the Russians needed an aerial vehicle of this type and describes the development of the Project V-24, the forerunner of the Mi-24 as we know it today.
The variants of the Mi-24 are then reviewed and, importantly, the subtleties of each one described. This helps in the positive identification of their role and, amazingly, of the many different variants, not all are for offensive operations. This chapter also details the World Records the ‘Hind’ held for rotary wing aircraft, unsuccessful variants and, interestingly, code names and nicknames.
The third chapter goes through the avionics that have been, and are currently, fitted to the helicopter and the different variants of the TV3-117 engine. There are excellent photographs of these, and a schematic cross section drawing of the powerplant, as well as specifications for each variant – very interesting on several different levels, including for those of an engineering persuasion.
The fourth chapter shows and describes the armament of the Mi-24, ranging from cannon and machine guns, unguided rockets, gravity weapons (yes, the ‘Hind’ has used bombs!), guided anti-tank missiles and even the personal weapons of the aircrew. The descriptions are very thorough, and packed full of facts, and are accompanied by some beautiful photographs perfect for modellers.
A relatively small chapter, focussing on the aircraft’s self-defence systems, follows. Not a great deal can be written about this subject because a lot of it is classified and in constant development to counter constantly evolving threats. Suffice to say, radar warning devices, flare dispensers and IR jammers are described in detail.
Chapter six enters somewhat familiar ground, the Mi-24 in combat, and covers tactics in Europe, border patrols, and tactics in Afghanistan. This is an interesting subject and it is refreshing to see how diverse the helicopter’s role can be in very different environments and how the platform is employed. There are informative diagrams of the in-flight formations and descriptions of flying techniques used, giving the reader a true taste of what it’s like to operate this awe-inspiring machine.
The penultimate chapter serves as a comparison to Western military types including the Bell AH-1 Cobra, AH-56A Cheyenne, Sikorsky S-67 Blackhawk and AH-64A Apache. These types were the yardstick, particularly the Cheyenne, against which the Mi-24 was designed, developed and measured. The histories of each of these Western types are discussed with direct reference to the ‘Hind’ in terms of reliability, robustness, tactics and conceptual design. Finally, the author looks at the type worldwide, its distribution and the air arms that have acquired the helicopter throughout its production life. There is a map of the world showing active and former users of the Mi-24. This illustrates how widespread this once secret helicopter remains. This chapter also details the Mi-24 in American and German service (which the author naturally writes about in detail). The afterword is dedicated to Mikhail Leontyevich Mil, the father of the Mi-24 ‘Hind’. The last two pages contain superb photographs of the Mi-24, one a monument in front of the building, occupied by helicopter manufacturer Rostvertol in Rostov on Don. The other image is a nose down, head on profile shot showing the distinctive lines of the more modern Hind as it transitions toward the photographer. Like the majority of the images in the book, many not seen in previous publications, the quality is excellent.The overall production of the book, printed on heavy paper stock, is, as expected from Schiffer, excellent. This hardback edition has the solid feel of a textbook. It has the perfect balance of text, illustrations and photographs. From a modellers’ and aviation historians’ perspective, it is an essential, very enjoyable, interesting and informative read, and is a must for those interested in helicopters or aircraft in general. It would be a very welcome addition to anyone’s library and worth every penny.