The year 2014 is littered with celebrations of first flights of what have become legendary aircraft. Airheadsfly.com started with 40 years of F-16, moved on to 40 years of Tornado, reported on 60 years of C-130 Hercules and now 45 years of Mi-24 combat helicopter, nicknamed the Flying Tank but most commonly known by its NATO-reporting name: Hind.
On 19 September 1969 test pilot German Alferov took to the air for the first time the prototype of what would become the Western world’s and anti-Soviet rebels most feared air asset. Made with international tensions nearing one of the highest points of modern history, the assault and attack helicopter was developed in roughly more than a year – a record. Thanks not only to the pressure by the government of the then Soviet Union that is now Russia and many other states, but also thanks to the research and guidance by chief-designer Mikhail Mil who’s family name is still serving many of the world’s rotary craft.
To make serial production at Rostvertol in Rostov-on-Don and Progress Arsenyev Aviation Plant in Russia’s Far East quickly possible, Mil’s designers and technicians used a lot of components already in use for the Mi-8 transport helicopter and the Mi-14 anti-submarine chopper already coming of the production line. Together with the Moscow Mil Helicopter Plant all three companies would many decades later merge into Russian Helicopters, as part of the Russian State weapons corporation Rostec’s daughter organisation Oboronprom.
Once introduced the Mi-24 set records, in 1975 alone eight for speed and lifting by test pilots Galina Rastorgueva and Lyudmila Polyanskaya. Three years later test pilot Gurgen Karapetyan recorded the highest speed by any helicopter at that time: 198.9 knots (368.4 kmh).
Since its introduction more than 3,500 Mi-24 and derivatives have been produced, with the type in service in 40 countries worldwide including some of the former Warsaw Pact forces turned into NATO allies, like the Czech Air Force, the Hungarian Air Force plus the Polish Air and Land Forces.
The newest Hind version, the Mi-35M, went into serial production in 2005. It is the helicopter that is today supplied to the Russian Army Aviation Regiments, but also to many other countries including Brazil. What the Kalashnikov became for small arms, the Mi-24/Mi-35 became for rotary wing warfare: the probably most reliable, relatively affordable and still fearsome weapon of its class on today’s battlefield.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, based on source information provided by Russian Helicopters