Skip to comments.Birmingham's Southern Museum of Flight gets Soviet helicopter
Posted on 04/13/2012 8:51:03 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
Birmingham's Southern Museum of Flight gets Soviet helicopter (slideshow, video)
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The hull of one of the most feared helicopters in history arrived at the Southern Museum of Flight Tuesday, riding on the back of a trailer 186 miles from the Fort Rucker U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence.
It was a camouflage-painted, Mi-24 Hind.
The Hind was a flying gunship that became the iconic image of the Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It was also a metaphor for the unequal struggle between an advanced technology super-power and a lightly armed guerrilla force on the ground.
This Mi-24 Hind will be restored over the next six to nine months. Visitors can watch as the flight museum attaches the copter's tail section, its massive wing stubs, and the five-bladed, 57-foot titanium rotor. The completed helicopter, with its distinctive double-bubble cockpits for gunner and pilot, will be the centerpiece of a new museum exhibit on the Cold War -- that 50-year standoff between the U.S. and its NATO allies against the communist hegemony under the Soviet Union.
The Southern Museum of Flight also received a host of spare parts and a stack of flight logbooks and manuals, some written in Russian and others in Czech. The museum has hired a translator to decipher the Russian, and would love to find a Czech-speaking volunteer to help with the rest, said museum executive director Jim Griffin.
Birmingham's Mi-24 Hind was slated to be destroyed until a confidential source alerted museum officials about 10 months ago, Griffin said, and the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions and several Army veteran groups helped persuade the government to give it to the museum instead.
This particular helicopter was flown at Fort Bliss, Texas, as a target to help improve the effectiveness of U.S. surface-to-air Stinger missiles, Griffin said. During the Soviet-Afghanistan conflict, American CIA operatives armed the Afghan Mujahideen insurgents with the heat-seeking Stingers. The heavily armored Hind was resistant to .50 caliber bullets.
Volunteers helped move the Hind. Trucker David Wild of LaGrange, Ga., drove the helicopter to Birmingham on Tuesday and also delivered a second donated Soviet-era aircraft, the Antonov An-2 Colt, on Monday.
The Antonov is thought to be the largest single-engine biplane ever built. Like the Hind, it arrived at the Southern Museum of Flight wingless.
CraneWorks donated its labor unloading the two crafts Tuesday afternoon.
Museum Curator Wayne Novy said he will restore the Hind first. Interior work will include removing the American gauges used by the Fort Bliss pilots, and replacing them with Soviet avionics.
"We want to keep it as original as possible," Novy said.
A former Soviet Mi-24D "Hind" attack helicopter is unloaded from a trailer at the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday, April 10, 2012. The helicopter and an An-2 biplane were moved from Fort Rucker where they were used in a completed Department of Defense program. The helicopter will be the centerpiece of a Cold War exhibit at the museum. (The Birmingham News/Mark Almond)
Unequal which way? Seems to me I read at the time that the Hind couldn't generate enough lift in the thin air over the peaks in A'stan, so it had to stay lowerwithin range of our donated shoulder-fired missiles. That didn't turn out well for the Soviets.
Thanks for posting. Having grown up during the Cold War, it is still an odd feeling to have such things, worth any price of blood or treasure to obtain once, now so available. I guess people who grew up in other conflicts felt the same way.
During the 1980s, Soldier of Fortune Magazine was offering a million dollars for the capture of one of these.
Seriously cool. It would be interesting if that one could be sent a couple hundred years back in time. Oh, the stories that would be given birth to due to its appearance.