Lee takes a look at painting the iconic Mi-24 Hind gunship.
Earlier in the month, we looked at my work in the first few week’s of January on the Lynx attack helicopter for the British. In this article, we shall look at the second half of January’s work on another helicopter, the Mi-24 Hind.
I had eight Battlefront Hinds fully assembled and primed in lack but they had sat on my shelf since being used for a few intro games when Team Yankee was originally launched. This large period of inactivity had not been especially kind on the helicopters which were a bit dusty and a few had the Gatling guns missing and tail fins detached. I also had not assembled the tail or main rotors but thankfully had retained the sprue they were attached to for each helicopter. So, prep should be minimal right?
Well, not quite. The majority of parts for the main rotor were on one sprue. What was missing was the central shaft that the magnet attaches to. Not a minor component! A quick look on the Battlefront website confirmed it was on the sprue I had not retained. Additionally, past Lee had not been gentle squeezing the retained sprues in a jiffy bag and a few of the actuator rings were damaged. A couple more broke on removal.
Ultimately, I had planned to replace the notoriously fragile main rotors with a rotor disk in the future so this wasn’t a major setback, more of an annoyance. I built up the rotors as much as I could, then set them to tackle later.
Next I turned my thoughts to painting the Hinds. I wasn’t especially keen on the yellow and green camo used in Afghanistan but I was aware there was an alternative scheme that used a green-beige base colour that was more to my liking.
The next step to replicate this was to find the colours but I quickly found that Vallejo had a paint set for Soviet/Russian Helicopters so I ordered a copy. The confirmed the paints as below.
It was time to begin!
The Lynx had shown that the pre-shading could work, I just needed to be a little less heavy handed with the airbrush and mask both colours of the scheme. As such I did my normal trick of undercoating on Vallejo Surface Primer (VSP) “Black” and then panel shading with Vallejo Model Air (VMA) “White”
Camo – Two tone times two
With the pre-shade left overnight to dry (and thus maximize its adherence to the primer) the next stage was to apply the camo.
There were three shades to apply:
- Underside blue
- Grey Beige
- Medium Olive Green
I decided to tackle the underside first. Now, if I wasn’t trying to pre-shade this would have been really easy as I could just do it without masking but, as I needed to preserve the pre-shade, I had to mask off the topsides. Cue a night lost to masking as little of the helicopter as I thought I could get away with…
Once that was done, I sprayed on the VMA “Russian Air Force Grey Blue”.
The masking tape off with only a couple instances of the paint being pulled off so I breathed a sigh of relief, touched up the small patches where the white pre-shade had been pulled, then re-used the removed masking tape to mask the fuselage and wing undersides (thoery being that the tape was less sticky on re-use).
I applied masking putty to the areas I wanted to paint green, then sprayed on the VMA “Light Grey”. Straight away, I ran into issues getting the coverage right and the pre-shade quickly disappeared. Somewhat dejected, I decided to keep going and see if the VMA “Medium Olive” green fared better.
It did not. Additionally I noticed that the paint seemed to flow back away from the edges of the masking putty, making gaps in the coverage inevitable.
I touched up the gaps using a brush on the first Hind then decide to abandon the pre-shade on the remaining Hinds. Instead I sprayed VMC “Light Grey” all over the model, then used Vallejo Game Air “Aged White” to add some highlights to the leading edges, panel centres and top surface. I then applied masking putty to preserve the beige areas before applying the “Medium Olive”, followed by VMA “Tan Green” to the same areas as the “aged white” but on the green areas, plus some “streaks”. The “Aged White” was probably too low contrast and the “Tan Green” a touch too much contrast, but it did add some of the definition I had hope to achieve with the pre-shading. That said, a plan was forming (with tanks to Evan and Eddie) on how to really nail it…
Detail and Markings
Before I got to that stage though, I needed to get the majority of the helicopter done. First I blocked out the intakes, glazing, IR jammer and exhausts in Vallejo Model Colour “Black”.
Next I picked out the exhausts and rocket pods in Aluminium and the Spiral launch tubes in VMC “Russian Uniform”. One of the interesting observations I made whilst researching the Hind was that Soviet rocket pods and pylons seemed to be generally in a dull metal colour, rather than painted. As noted in my vehicle painting, guided missile tubes seem to be a yellow-green colour. The Spirals then had VMC “Yellow Green” layered on, followed by edge highlights of VMC “Middlestone”.
I then applied a Citadel “Nuln Oil” wash over the metal areas and pods. Whilst that dried, I picked out the glazing in VMC “Luftwaffe Uniform”.
Next up was a spot of colour. I applied four VMC Flat Red lines to the undersides of the pods (I’m guessing these are “safe lift/rest”spots on the thinned skin rockets for weapon load crews). I also picked out the tail collision light in the same red, and painted on the port (more red) and starboard (German Camo Bright Green) nav lights on the sponson wings. I gave the IR Jammer an edge highlight of London Grey.
Next, I applied a coat of Vallejo “Mecha Gloss” varnish via the airbrush then, when dry, applied the transfers and a pin wash of Citadel “Nuln Oil” to the few panel lines and doors on the model.
Then it was time to get out of my comfort zone.
Experiments in Shaders
I became aware of MIG shaders soon after their release but didn’t really pay them much attention. Independently, both Eddie and Evan (of BF sculpting fame) suggested I take a look at them as a way of adding extra defintion.
The shaders are somewhat weird to describe. They are almost an ink and you only use a few drops at a time at a relativly low pressure on the airbrush; applying them in very thin layers to get subtle shading for definition or weathering. The example video by MIG gives an idea of the process.
I bought a few shades of green and grey, plus a blue, dirt and yellow and sprayed some bases in the three camo tones to experiment.
The “dirt” Shader seemed to work on all three shades so I decided to go with that as a one stop solution rather than mask off the different camos. First I needed to apply a couple coats of Vallejo “Mecha Matt” varnish as the shaders needs a flat finish to work. Before I did this, I applied some liquid mask to the glazed areas to save having to reapply the gloss later as I had to on the Lynx.
I applied the shaders to the panel seams, the “indents” where the nose and tail meet the body, the trailing edges of the sponson wings and tail and, finally, the bottom of the hull and boon. I did this in two coats and the effect is subtle. I think a third coat may have been in order but two worked sufficiently well.
With the hulls largely done, it was time to turn to the rotors. I fixed the main rotor shaft issue using a combination of surplus Scorpion and Sherman barrels (which has the tapered look) which, whilst ugly, did work.
I sprayed the rotors VSP “Black”. I then sprayed the ends of the tail rotor VGA “Blood Red” and the tips of the main rotor VMA “Yellow”. These were then masked off ready for the next step.
Soviet tail rotors appear to be metallic in colour so I sprayed the tail rotors VMA “Aluminium”. The main rotors are dark grey in colour so they were sprayed VMA “Dk Panzer Grey”. I then picked out the mechanics of the rotor hub in “London Grey”, highlighted with “Sky Grey”.
One final step was to apply some scorch marks for the exhaust carbon depositing. I stippled on some VMC “German Camo Black Brown”, followed by VMC “Black” trying to follow examples from online photos.
That bought the Hinds to a conclusion!
Mi-24 Hind Gunship
The Hinds experienced some difficulty but the end result was worth the effort. I think the two tone pre-shading was a technique too far, but the Shaders warrant some further experimenting.
We finish January with the following completed:
- 6 Lynx AH Mk.1 HELARM – 18pts
- 8 Mi-24 Hind – 28pts
That gets 46pts and 14 monels on the scoreboard for the year. Not a bad start.
My target for February is to complete the Armybit “Soviet Infantry in KLMK camo suits” figures for the infantry component of my VDV Afghansty, with a stretch goal of six SU-25 Frogfeet. Tune in next month to see how it went!