Take On Helicopters – Hinds

by Jonas “Avimimus” Weselake-George

Take On Helicopters - Hinds close to the ground

Introduction

Take On Helicopters - HindsHelicopter sims are rare breeds these days. Even rarer is the Mi-24 Krokodil gunship. The question is: Why?

An informal poll by a forum user on the Eagle Dynamics forum once showed that the Mi-24 Hind was preferred by half of respondents — over seven other types of combat helicopter and getting up to 50% of the vote — the next most popular competitor only managed 16% for its support! However, this machine has only officially had one simulation — Digital Integration’s venerable 1996 release Hind. Today we rely on third-party modders to fly the Hind (particularly “arneh”, who gave it a very good cockpit for EECH).

Called the “Crocodile” in Russian, the dragonfly-like Mi-24 Hind is arguably the most distinctive helicopter ever produced. It is clearly one of the greatest multi-purpose warcraft to ever have been invented. To quote (out of context):

“And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.”  – Revelations 9:17

“And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.”  – Revelations 9:9

A mobile piece of hell, roaring engines with 1000 degree turbine inlet temperatures, similar in size and weight to the WWII He-111 bomber, but amazingly nimble, suspended by five 7-meter-long rotating wings, it carries more firepower than some turn-of-the century warships. Who can doubt that the Mi-24 is among humanity’s inventions closest to the locusts of the apocalypse? One must wonder why we’ve seen so little of it.

While many of the three thousand examples built have since entered retirement, the design itself will be around for a long time (probably into the middle of the 21st century with some powers). It has served in nearly 25 conflicts and has been flown by in excess of 65 powers. Mi-24 variants even served at the hands of both Polish and American pilots during the “War on Terror”. Objectively, it is an aging design that should have been retired years ago — but equally clearly, it is a design without a successor.

The Hind’s development was influenced by Russian observations on the development of the assault helicopter gunship in Vietnam. Beating out lighter single-engined competition, the Mi-24’s specification came out remarkably close to the Mi-8 assault / transport helicopter (itself twice the size of the Vietnam era UH-1 Huey, although serving the Russians in an identical role).

Take On Helicopters - Hinds nose on

Faster, up-armored, and with a suite of combat avionics, the Hind allowed pilots to be much more aggressive than the Mi-8 gunship pilots. In return, it lost most of its internal cargo space, being able to carry only eight soldiers.

The concept thus was fundamentally a mid-cold war design — an assault helicopter used to take out occasional hardened positions, support and escort breakthroughs. However, it wasn’t designed to operate in areas where most of the heavy air defences were intact.

This is different from the attack helicopter designs of the AH-64 Apache, Ka-50 Black Shark, and EC 665 Tiger, which rely primarily on a new generation of long range anti-tank missiles to conduct static attacks at a safer range. In comparison, the Mi-24 uses different tactics — attacking on the move, flying in pairs which snake behind each other to confuse enemy gunners, and attacking from different directions, like dolphins massacring a ball of fish. It is thus one of the most tempting rotocraft to model and market.

So what would I look for in a Mi-24 simulator?

Good gameplay value from the wide variety of unguided weapons that act as an assault helicopter’s equivalent to the anti-tank missiles carried by attack helicopters.

Insertions and transportation roles, these can be surprisingly enjoyable and meaningful — Infantry, insurgents and fixed positions to attack (rather than just tanks).

Enemies who are capable of shooting back (whether they be helicopters, infantry or vehicles).

A plausible flight model.

Overview of the Take On Helicopter Series

Before we dive into the Hind itself, lets look at Bohemia Interactive’s Take On Helicopters series.

The flight model is quite nimble and a clear improvement over Bohemia Interactive’s past sims. The inclusion of avionics, winches, and many other little features allows for a greater variety of gameplay. Generally speaking, this sim has the makings of a spiritual successor to the original Search and Rescue — one of the most enjoyable sims of all time (and arguably superior in several areas to SAR 2SAR 3, and SAR 4). I felt a little as if I’d come home again.

Performance is good on a modern PC, but it is a demanding engine which causes a noticeable increase in case temperatures compared to other titles.

The Details:

I was very impressed with the progress made in the engine’s development. Noticeably, the draw distances were increased to several kilometers (compared to the Arma engine). Trees are collideable, but not destructible — taking a middle road between DCS and Arma 2. Only one of the two default maps has destructible buildings (however, it is possible to create user maps with destructible trees and buildings).

Lighting is well done (even if the sky almost always seemed stormy) and detail is comparable to many flight sims. Volumetric clouds make for a nice addition. Weather is variable with lightning, moving clouds, and wind.

Detail of objects is noticeably reduced compared to the Arma series and I did notice some vehicles diving underwater at a location where a bridge should be and burrowing through hillsides. This is more a funny thing than a noticeable immersion killer.

Human animations were improved compared to Arma 2. One can exit and enter helicopters / vehicles (with new transitional animations). Inside the cockpit, main cyclic and collective are animated and there is some work towards a clickable cockpit — although it is largely non-functional (and most of the controls are unanimated and hidden under the pilot’s legs).

Racing along the ground in the gunner’s position gives a great sense of speed and the landscapes are very immersive at times. The elevations are based on real topomaps — something missing from the original Arma and its predecessors.

The elevation maps are quite detailed and make for fun and excitingly varied terrains to explore. This is perhaps my favorite feature. You can see other examples of the in-game graphics here.

Take On Helicopters - Hinds terrain maps

For those wanting a more comprehensive review of Take On Helicopterssee our last article on the subject. Take On Helicopters – Hindsis the first add-on to the Take On Helicopters series.

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