The first combat and assault Mil' Mi-24 "Hind" helicopters (1) deployed outside the borders of the USSR were observed for the first time at Stendal on September 26, 1973 together with a few Mi-8T "Hip-C." This was the first operational version Mi-24A "Hind-A" assigned to the new 178.OBVP - Separate Combat Helicopter Regiment (2) - likely created to implement the new helicopter in the GDR. More helicopters were also identified at Parchim, where the newly arrived 172.OBVP had settled down a few months earlier. The arrival of these first "Hind" announced the beginning of a considerable strengthening of the fire power of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG). Intensive training began rapidly at the 178.OBVP from September on. There was yet no Army Aviation Combat Training Course for the Mi-24 and the Mi-8 Combat Training Course was used for training. The retractable landing gear was something really new for the helicopter pilots. They landed Mi-24s on their belly several times early during the establishment of the regiment. An "observer" position was introduced within the tower to prevent such incidents. Using binoculars, he visually monitored whether or not the gear were extended during flying activity when helicopters were landing. In 1974, there were flights in two shifts during three to four flying days per week. Numerous missions were flown to the Retzow Air-to-Ground Bombing and Gunnery Range and to the Letzlinger Heide training range. The pilots also practiced the simple overflight of the infantry since often during exercises the "non-battled tested" youngsters fled in horror from the friendly roaring Mi-24s passing overhead at extremely low altitudes. It was also necessary to master the 9M17M Falanga-M (AT-2 "Swatter") anti-tank missiles. The Mi-24A could indeed carry four of those missiles that were mounted on launching rails attached to the wingtip endplates. The front-seat operator guided them manually through orders given by a radio link (a fairing under the nose protected the Raduga-F weapon system guidance antenna). He used a tank sight for that purpose: the Falanga (Phalanx) had in fact originally been developed to equip BDRM-1 and -2 light armored vehicles. This subsonic weapon (540 km/h) could penetrate shielding up to 28 cm thick at distances ranging from 1000 to 4000 meters. However, the hit probability with one missile on a target did not exceed 30%.
The Mi-24 itself developed faster than the weapon system specifically intended for it. Consequently, the 'A' version just used the same type of missiles than those previously used with the Mi-4AV (3) as well as well as the K-4V weapon system of the latter. This complex was also fitted to the Mi-8TV "Hip-E" (1974) that also carried four Falanga ATGM. Thus, the GSFG had Mi-8 and Mi-24 with anti-tank capabilities on strength for a few years and at the same time. A swiveling Afanas'yev A-12 machine gun, of a caliber of 12,7 mm was mounted under the nose, while four wing pylons allowed the carriage of various weapons such as four UB-32A rocket launchers that could fire 32 57 mm S-5 rockets each or four bombs weighing 50 to 250 kg. It was also possible to carry two 500 kg bombs or ZB-500 napalm canisters.
More than 240 Mi-24A were produced by Arsen'yev Factory n°116 between 1970 (entry into service with the VVS in 1972) and early 1975. Whereas "Hind" pilots generally were pleased with the agility of such a big and heavy helicopter, the tail rotor located on the right side of the tail fin was insufficient. Its subsequent displacement to the left side solved the problem (the tail rotor switched from a "pusher" to a "tractor" configuration). Also, the service life of the Izotov TV3-117 turbines was initialy limited to 50 hours. The engine potential before overhaul was increased to 300 hours with the Series 2 turbines in 1973 and 500 hours in 1975. By 1977, the Series 3 engines had reached a potential of 750 hours. A few examples of the Mi-24U "Hind-C" trainer version were also built. The latter was unarmed: it had no gun and no Raduga-F (some helicopters however kept that weapon system and were consequently able to fire ATGM). The instructor was seating in the front seat where all the instrumentation and flight controls were available. At least one Mi-24U was based at Parchim. However, we ignore if the Mi-24DU "Hind-D" that was the training version of the next operational version, the Mi-24D, was deployed in the GDR.
Crocodiles (Nickname of the Mi-24)
Production of the Mi-24D "Hind-D" was launched in 1973 at Rostov Factory n°168. Some 625 Mi-24D/DU had been built when their production ceased in late 1983. Since the Shturm missiles that should have armed the Mi-24A still were not available, the Mi-24D was an interim model that compensated for the deficiencies of the "Hind-A." The "veranda" - as the Soviets called it - of the cockpit did not offer an ideal field of vision, far from it. During night sorties near the ground, lights on the ground were reflected in the flat canopy glass, which sometimes caused the pilot to lose spatial orientation. Moreover, the common cockpit decreased the chances of surviving a direct hit to that area, the pilot and the weapons system operator being at risk of being injured or killed at the same time. It was replaced by the double tandem cockpit equipped with bulletproof glass in front, so characteristic of the Mi-24. This version also benefited from various improvements previously tested on the Mi-24B, which did not become operational. The nose machine-gun was replaced by a USPU-24 nose turret with a Gatling-type 12,7 mm machine-gun, the Yakushev/Borzov YakB-12,7 (also designated 9-A-624 (4)) with a rate-of-fire of 4000-5000 rounds per minute and a combat load of 1470 shells. It was associated with the KPS-53AV stabilized gun sight system. The latter included an analog computer linked to sensors recording flight parameters, enabling automatic aiming correction. That complex included the KS-53 gun sight with which the weapons system operator (WSO) could fire the machine-gun and also drop bombs. The 9M17M missile was replaced by the 9M17P Falanga-PV, associated with Raduga-PF. The probability of a direct hit on the target was improved to 80% with this improved version of the ATGM.
The Raduga complex included a new target aiming and acquisition system. It was originally a submarine periscope dating back to the 1930s mounted upside down! The top side of the latter was in the right front corner of the WSO cockpit, while the other end of the periscope was located inside a new fairing below the right side of the nose. But, of course, this piece of equipment that was obviously satisfactory had to be adapted to its new task. Thus, the mirror was gyro-stabilized. Also, it was possible to choose between a narrow or wide field of view. An integrated thermal seeker allowed automatic tracking of the position of the missile, the latter being equipped with two tracers at the rear. The trajectory of the missile was then corrected by radio-link, while the WSO continually kept the sight crosshairs on the target until impact. Two small metal doors protected the windows of the optics when not in use.
The missile's guidance antenna was now housed in a small swiveling fairing attached under the left side of the nose.
Unlike its predecessor, the Mi-24D could carry PTB-450 external fuel tanks under-wing. Four ASO-2V-02 removable infrared
decoy launchers containing 32 flares each could be attached under the rear
portion of the tail boom. A SPO-10 Sirena-3M radar homing and warning receiver (RHWR)
also protected the helicopter.
Production of the Mi-24V "Hind-E" began in 1976 and, ten years later, around 1500 machines had been built in Arsen'yev and Rostov. The letter 'V' in the designation meant Vysotnyy or "high-altitude" in English. This version was indeed powered by more-powerful Izotov TV3-117V turbines that could deliver up to 2225 hp - hence its ability to operate more easily at a higher altitude - while the Mi-24A and 'D' used TV3-117 turbines rated at 2200 hp. In addition, the TV3-117V could still provide 1700 hp at 1000 meters and 40°C, while the TV3-117 could only provide 1420 hp under the same conditions. The Mi-24V was finally armed with 9M114 Shturm-V (AT-6 "Spiral") ATGM. The new supersonic missile flying at 1260-1440 km/h could pierce shielding 56 cm thick at a distance ranging from 800 to 5000 meters. The hit probability on a target now exceeded 92%. Thanks to its more compact shape and its folding stabilizers, it could be stored inside a cylindrical container.
Ce Mi-24V photographié à Parchim le 3 février 1984 emportait sous les pylones externes des adaptateurs permettant d'y fixer quatre missiles antichars. Un "Hind-E" équipé
de la sorte pouvait par conséquent emporter jusqu'à 16 missiles si deux adaptateurs doubles étaient montés en bout de plans. Celui-ci ne transportait que deux Chtourm
et deux conteneurs UB-32A. © USMLM.
The missile guidance antenna of the Raduga-Sh (Sh for 'Shturm') was a little more bulky. This moving antenna was housed inside a fixed teardrop fairing with a black dielectric panel in front, attached to the left side of the nose turret. This fairing made it possible to distinguish definitively a Mi-24V from a Mi-24D. The pilot was employing a new ASP-17V automatic sight that could be used for firing the nose machine-gun in a fixed (zero) position, to drop bombs and fire unguided rockets (5). The first "Hind-E" models had no PZU air intake filters in front of the turbines. These filters were fitted out on the later Mi-24V series and they were often retrofitted on the early series machines, as well as on the Mi-24D. The Mi-24V of the GSFG were not equipped with the SPO-15 Bereza RHAWR that could be recognized by its prominent fairings positioned behind the cockpit and on the tail boom. They retained instead the older SPO-10 system.
Like the Mi-24D, the Mi-24V could carry four ASO-2V-02 IR flare launchers, each containing 32 flares, under the tail boom. These later were replaced by six identical dispensers mounted on the rear of the fuselage sides (three on each side). They were fixed at an angle of about 15° forward and were sometimes shrouded with an aerodynamic fairing. The flares were launched automatically at a rate of between four to sixteen at one time at two- to six-second intervals. A support for an SOEP-V1A IR jammer Lampa infrakrasnykh pomekh (infrared jamming lamp) generally designated Lipa - "Hot Brick" for NATO (6) - was located behind the main rotor, at the root of the tail boom. The Lipa was composed of a xenon lamp and a rotating deflector accommodated in a thimble-shaped housing. This system produced erratic infrared signals that disrupted an IR missile guidance system. The first Mi-24V series did not have that equipment, while some late-series Mi-24D were equipped with it. This type of material, however, was retrofitted on many older "Hind-D" and "-E" models. It was possible to adapt EVU gas diluters on the engine exhausts to reduce the IR signature of the helicopter. However, that was possible only on those machines produced after 1984 that were equipped with exhaust nozzles cut vertically (rather than beveled) and, until proven otherwise, the only helicopters of the GSFG that could have received that equipment were the Mi-24K and R models (7).
The Mi-24 was not solely a combat helicopter: it could carry up to eight armed infantrymen in the rear compartment. The windows of that