Czech and Czechoslovak Hinds E from technical perspective
Text: Tomáš “Hindman” Dvořák
The original type designation of Hind E was Mi-24V, where the letter V means “vysotnyi” which translates as “high-altitude”. This corresponds to engines' higher power available at higher level. This allowed not only a higher ceiling but, most importantly, the ability to hover at higher height above sea level, both with or without the ground effect.
The Hind’s E predecessor, the Hind D, was continually developed and many of the features of the Hind E were already adopted. The only differences distinguishing the two at first sight at every stage of development are the ATGM used and the location of the APU intake. The Hind E used more advanced and beam-targeted supersonic 9M114 Shturm missiles instead of wire-controlled subsonic 9M17P Falanga ones. The guiding system appearance also differed in the shape of the antenna cover on the port side below the nose and different doors and other details on the sighting/aiming system on the starboard side. Also, while the Hind D has the intake for APU on the starboard side of the fuselage ridge just opposed to the APU’s exhaust on the port side, the Hind E is feeding the air to APU through the whole tail beam via the triangle-shaped opening in the low part of the vertical stabilizer on the starboard. All the other features, including more powerful TV3-117V engines, “wet” pylons, shape of the main as well as tail rotor blades and other features can be seen not only on the Hind E, but also on late Hind D choppers, depending on the state of the development. But Czechoslovakia did not use these late Hind Ds.
The first batch of Hinds E sported the gun camera placed in the intersection of the end of the wing and the end pylon like on the Hind D but the small bumpy antenna of the warning S3M Sirena system is missing. Photo: author
Early series of Hind E (numbers from 0701 to 0710 in Czechoslovakia) were equipped with older type of the Friend-Foe identification system SRO-2 Chrom. It was recognizable by the “three fingers” antennae on the top of the WSO’s cockpit canopy windshield frame and on the bottom of the tail fin. The gun camera S-13 was mounted on the port side on the front of the joint section of the wing and the vertical pylon. This corresponded to the Hind D, but the early Hinds E lacked the small, bulged antenna of the warning system S3M Sirena (it was also absent on the rear of the outer pods). Instead, the Czechoslovak Hinds E used the more advanced passive system L-006 Beryozka (birch) installed in the bulky oval covers on both sides of the front fuselage between front and rear cockpit. These were quite popular among pilots as they were used as handy shelves for the map cases or helmets prior to or after the flight. Behind and under the port Beryozka antenna, there was a fixed landing light FFP-7 added. On the trailing edge of the tail, two small bulges of the warning system antennae were added. These were monitoring the rear area. The early Hinds E also kept the frame in the wheel bay separating the port and starboard compartments.
The early Hind D were additionally equipped with the flare dispensers ASO-2V. These were fixed to the rear of the tail by the metal belts encircling the tail. The early Hinds E had the dispensers screwed directly into the frame of the tail.
As the Hind E was developed the later series (Nos 0786 through 0790 and 0812 through 0816 in Czechoslovakia) had the gun camera removed from the port side wing and a new type (SS-45) installed in the rear pilot-in-command cockpit in the case on the right side of the gunsight. The above-mentioned frame in the main wheel bay was removed, which was greeted by technicians as it made easier the access to the serviced components in the bay.
The choppers with tail numbers 0832 through 0839 presented another step in the development of the Hinds E supplied to Czechoslovakia: The covers of the L-006 system were moved behind the rear cockpit and raised out of reach from the ground. The three-fingers SRO-2 antennae were changed for the trapezoidal antennae of new system 62-01 Parol. As a third visible change, the flare dispensers were moved from the tail to the rear of the center section of the fuselage behind and above the wing. Also, their number was increased from four to six (three on each side). They firstly had covers, but as their removal and fixing during maintenance was rather complicated, the covers were gone on later series of Hind E.
The last Hinds E supplied to Czechoslovakia were choppers with the numbers 0927, 0928 and 0929. They sported minor changes on the instrument panel in the rear cockpit, but otherwise were the same as the previous ones. Two of these were lost in fatal air crashes and seven airmen were killed.
After several technical inspections and overhauls, most of the oldest Hinds E in the inventory of the Czech army were discarded and Nos. 0702, 0710, 0788, 0790, 0815, 0835 and 0839 were sold to AAL company from United Arab Emirates. After some non-specified overhaul, they were sold – probably to Libya or Sudan.
The chopper number 0834 demonstrates the form of the final supply during the existence of the socialist Czechoslovakia. On the frame of the windshield of the WSO’s cockpit there is the trapezoidal antenna of the 62-01 Parol system and the bulky covers of the L-006 Beryozka system are already moved behind the rear cockpit. Photo: Petr Soukop
The control panel of the new radio LUN 3520 allowing continuous change of the frequency replaced the Doppler navigation system DISS and the navigational data were instead supplied by the GPS system. Photo: author
After the political changes in 1989, first upgrades to the Czechoslovak Hinds E were made. Due to the rising number of participations on Western airshows, equipment had to be added to ensure at least very basic “westernalization”. The GPS system, digital feet-calibrated altimeter and western-standard transponder were added. The GPS antenna was mounted on the frame of the windshield of the WSO’s cockpit and the white fin-shaped antennae of the APX-100 transponder were placed behind the front wheel bay and on the top of the tail boom.
Control panel of the Infrared guided-missile countermeasure system L-166V-11E „Ispanka“ was located next to the right front weaponry panel in the WSO’s cockpit. Photo: author
Control panel of the LUN 3520 radio was fitted over the left front weaponry panel in the cockpit of WSO. Photo: author
The Hind E No. 0837 was selected for the trials of the special surface finish. Rubber panels covered nearly the whole fuselage with intention to delete the radar frequency and so make the helicopter less visible on the radar screens. The new surface was also painted with an experimental camo scheme. The paint was to degrade the visibility of the helicopter through the night vision goggles. None of the measures proved efficient, the only effect, apart of the smooth surface (the riveting was hidden under the rubber panels), was the added weight which unbalanced the weight distribution of the chopper.
Left side of the WSO’s cockpit already in black color with English stenciling and the conversion table from feet to meters. Necessary, as the altimeters were calibrated in meters. Photo: author
Apart of the above-mentioned ATGMs Shturm replacing the much slower Falanga, Hind E had a much wider variety of weapons. There were unguided rocket blocks B8V20 of 80 mm caliber, gun pods GUV either with 30 mm grenade launcher 9-A-669 or with one 12,7 mm 9-A-624 four-barrel Gatling gun plus two 7,62 mm ones of the same system. Another option were cannon pods containing two-barrel UPK-23/250 cannon of 23 mm caliber, mine containers KMGU-2 or rocket launchers RM-122. More to it, up to four external fuel tanks, each of 450 liters of volume, could be fitted to the inner and outer racks. The Shturm missiles could be fitted not only to the end pylons, but also to the outer racks through special adapters, increasing the maximum number of ATGMs to eight.
Prior to the political changes at the end of 1989, one set of the exhaust gas cooling system (EVU) was supplied, but it was never used. This system was eventually tested by the Czech army in 2002 with a new set of the same type previously supplied.
The cargo compartment with two black cases for the NVG system accessory. Photo: author
The “new” generation
As a part of the debts payments by Russian Federation to Czech Republic, 17 new Hinds E were supplied to the Czech army between 2003 and 2006. Seven of them kept the older designation Mi-24V, while ten others were designated Mi-35, which was the export designation of basically the same aircraft . But some minor differences existed.
The first batch consisted of seven choppers numbered 7353 through 7358 plus 0981. They were all powered by the new engines TV3-117VMA and the flare dispensers were fitted differently to the fuselage. The cockpits were painted in black instead of the turquoise color used previously. This change was done with aim to allow use of the night vision goggles (NVG). Unfortunately, the illumination was not NVG compatible, so the effort was useless.
As there was no GPS system installed, these choppers were in fact the same as those supplied in the eighties, including the Cyrillic stenciling in the cockpits. What was missing was the system Friend-Foe, so these machines had neither the antennae of the SRO-2 Chrom, nor the 62-01 Parol. But early into use, these new choppers were fitted with APX-100 transponders and a little bit later also with LUN 3520 radio of Czech origin. The T-shaped black antenna was fitted on the tail slightly to the right side. In the WSO cockpit, the control panel was mounted on the left front panel while in the rear cockpit of the pilot-in-command it replaced the now obsolete Doppler navigation system DISS.
Next supplied were three Hinds E now designated Mi-35 as mentioned previously. These were Nos. 7360, 3361 and 3362. These choppers were already NVG compatible, the cockpit stenciling was in English. In the cargo compartment, there are two black cases hanged on the starboard side to store the NVG cabling. These choppers were equipped with the GPS antenna fitted to the tube of the DUAS system. To be honest, the solution developed by the LOK (Aviation Repair Shops in Kbely; Kbely being part of Prague) looked much better …
As a new transponder KT-76C was installed, its antenna was placed on the bottom of cover of the Shturm guiding system. This placement was rather unhappy, as the antenna was quite vulnerable when the towing shaft was to be fitted. Due to that, it was moved to the former position behind the front wheel bay like in the case of APX-100. As the KT-76C did not need the second antenna, there was none on the tail boom.
The proof the chopper number 3365 was originally (or was intended to be) Hind F. Photo: author
A nice view on the rear cockpit illuminated for the use with the NVG. Photo: David Všetíček
The very last of the Hinds E supplied either to Czechoslovakia or to Czech Republic (Slovakia only received the former Czechoslovak Hinds D and E in the process of dividing the assets of Czechoslovakia and did not buy any new Hinds) were seven examples with numbers from 3365 to 3371. They were in the same configuration as the three previously supplied and underwent the same changes regarding the transponders and radio installations. Later, four of them (3367, 3368, 3370 and 3371) got the KT-76C transponders replaced by APX-119 . It was visible by minor change of the position of the antenna behind the front wheel bay (from centerline slightly to the starboard side) and the second antenna was added again on the top of the tail boom. At the end of the Hinds E service in Czech army, the short-wave radio Jadro was deleted and with it also its wire antennae between the rear fuselage and horizontal stabilizers.
Of the 17 newly supplied Hinds E, 11 went through general overhaul in the LOM (Aviation Repair Shop Malešice; Malešice being part of Prague) company. They got the same colors (so-called NATO standard, as described in Czech army) as they were supplied from Russia in compliance with Czech requirements, but as the colors were not sprayed with the use of templates, the borders of the color shades are diffuse. The twelfth Hind E planned for the general overhaul did not make it, as it was lost in an accident (engine failure while conducting the hover check ).
Antennae of the APX-100 transponder were fitted behind the front wheel bay and on the top of the tail boom. Photo: author
Why just the Hinds E?
There might be a question why the Czech Republic opted for the already obsolete Hind E during negotiations with the Russian side and did not ask for the much more advanced Hind J or its derivatives. There was for sure the aspect of the price, as the Hind J would have been more expensive and so less of them would have been supplied. But the main reason was (according to some sources) that the army did not want to enter a new type into its inventory due to logistic reasons. And more to it, there was a quite ambitious plan for upgrades, which was to be shared by the V4 states (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary). But the plan collapsed and in effect it marked the beginning of the end of the Hinds E in the Czech army. Although a tough attack and transport helicopter, it had only the essential avionics to be allowed to fly in the modern airspace of the 21st century and would be sentenced to doom in the modern battlefield, as it lacks all the modern Defensive Avionics Systems as well as target and data acquisition systems. In fact, the request for Hinds E supply was quite a surprise for Russians because this version was already out of production for several years. But they finally fulfilled the request, although rather peculiarly. The airframes of the Hinds E supplied were not newly manufactured, which is clearly supported by the fact the serial numbers were the continuation of the line of the Hinds F supplied to Niger. The 3365 Hind E, i.e., Mi-24V, even had a Mi-35P machine data-plate. According to the author’s own experience, that he got during his 2001 stay in the Rostov factory, where the Hinds are produced, it was a common practice for a Hind E to enter the general overhaul to leave it as an Hind F.
Detail of the GPS antenna fitting developed in LOK. Photo: author
In the foreign services
Apart of the older Hinds E sold to AAL, Czech Republic donated six of these helicopters to Afghan government. In the Afghan National Army, they got new numbers 113 (originally 0836), 114 (0703),
115 (0816), 116 (0834), 117 (0838) and 118 (0812). During the general overhaul prior to being sent to Afghanistan they received the more powerful TV3-117VMA engines, while all the GPS and identification equipment was removed. VHF and UHF radios were installed and the T-shaped white antennae were placed on the top of the tail boom (for the AT-160 COM1) and on its bottom (AT-160 COM2). Probably the most visible change was the installation of the long tubular antenna of the HF radio 10-389. It ran alongside the whole tail boom on the starboard side. There were also several other minor upgrades and changes. These choppers served in Afghanistan very reliably form the end of November 2008 until their dischargement in 2016.