Saturday, 7 January 2017


H&R 1:300th scale Mi-8 "Hip"
It's been over a year since I painted anything, but something has finally been done: a pair of Heroics & Ros 1:300th scale Mi-8s for my Czechoslovakian ground forces.

These had been sitting in one my "undercoated but awaiting further painting" trays for several years, because finishing looked a bit of a challange - camoflage would have to be applied, and they would have to be numbered, etc. As it turned out, the job wasn't too dificult.  Of course I realise that two models isn't exactly a huge dent in the proverbial lead mountain, but from small beginnings do great things grow...

The Mi-8, or "Hip" in NATO parlance, was the standard WarPac utility helicopter throughout the 1970s; an upgraded version, designated the Mi-17, was introduced into Czechoslovakia in the mid-1980s; it can be distinguished by having the tail rotor on the other side of the vehicle. 

Unit 0812 of the 51 vlrp, modelled ca. 1980.
No. 0812 belonged to the 51st Helicopter Regiment, which was part of the 4th Army, and is thus suitable for use with my usual ground formation: the 3rd Motor Rifle Division. Although a utility transport helcipter, the Mi-8 can be found armed as a makeshift gunship, usually sporting large amounts of rockets, which in MSH amounts to a very poor anti-tank attack factor, but a good anti-infantry one (factor 7).

The missiles should be extra rockets...
The Mi-8, while a "medium" transport helicopter, is nonetheless a very large vehicle, and is noticeably larger than e.g. an Mi-24 "Hind". The base size here is 90 mm square - in contrast, the H&R Hind-D, if turned somewhat askew, will just fit on to a 60 mm square base.  I base my helicopters on the ground, mostly because I've never found a way of representing moving rotors that I've been entirely happy with (the plastic disks some people use don't do much to me... )  This way, I don't have to wrestle with the problem: the unit is parked, awaiting orders, and the engine isn't even fired up! 

Deploying (half) a paratroop battalion.
In MSH a standard Hip model can transport up to 3 stands of infantry at once. This is why my bases are 90 mm square, rather than the 80 mm that the model could fit on to: it coincides with the deployment width of 3 bases of my infantry. I only have two models, and thus can't transport an entire paratrooper battalion at once, which is probably entirely realistic, because the Czechoslovakians would have really struggled to do so in any real life conflict.  In game terms, either I will have to transport a weakened battalion, with just 6 fighting stands (aided by my lone Mi-4 model taking the HQ stand), or be forced to take two trips to insert a full-strength unit.  Which, all said and done, doesn't sound any more doable on tabletop than it does on a real-life battlefield swarming with AA systems. Unfortunately, under Keith McNelly's scenario system, a half-strength battalion isn't sufficient to claim an "objective", only prevent an enemy from claiming it...

Scratch-built BzK vz. 59 in centre fore.
The Mi-8 was just large enough to take a GAZ-69 jeep equivalent through its rear doors, which is important, because this was the standard tow for the primary Czechoslovakian infantry battalion-level AT weapon system: the BzK vz. 59 RR. This was a heavy 82 mm recoiless rifle, with capabilities almost comparable to an 85 mm AT gun, but weighing considerably less (but at nearly 400 kg, still clearly far from being man-portable like the SPG-9 found in other WarPac forces). Thus, an infantry battalion's entire weapons inventory could, in theory, be helicoptered into a conflict zone. 


  1. Very nice, Luke! I have a few Hips myself for my Polish air assault battalion. I've been working on the Polish Marines this week and hope to have some complete soon.

  2. They look great! They deserve those oversize bases.

  3. Thanks. I think big bases are good because they not only give a greater scope for modelling, but also because they reduce the problems associated with distorted ground scales, This is a particular problem in MSH which I play, because fire is conducted base to base, so there is every incentive to cram your combat elemnst as close together as possible (concentration of force) and no disincentive (because, with a couple of exceptions, artilley doesn't target multiple bases at once).

  4. Looks great Luke. I based my Mi-8s on the ground as well, where such basing is ideal when used for transport missions in MSH. That said they haven't been out for a while...