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Mil Ladybird HU.1

The Mil Mi-2 'Hoplite' was a light utility helicopter designed in Russia but largely built in Poland. Because of the changing nature of the relationship between the New Commonwealth and the USSR a number of Mi-2s found their way into British service.

DescriptionEdit

The Mi-2 Hoplite provides transport and fire support. The MI-2 can conduct reconnaissance, resupply guerrillas and provide close air support with 57mm rockets. It can also have a smoke generator mounted to provide a wide area smoke screen in front of units, screening their movements. Additional missions include; direct air support, anti-tank, armed reconnaissance, transport, medevac, airborne command post, mine laying, and training. Although the Mi-2 Hoplite was developed by the Mil bureau in the former Soviet Union, the aircraft was produced exclusively in Poland by the PZL Swidnik aircraft factory. Several thousand of these aircraft were built and it remained in production until 1985.

DesignEdit

Mi-2 2

Soviet civil Mi-2

The three-blade main rotor is mounted on top of a large hump above the body midsection. Two turboshaft engines are mounted side-by-side on top of cabin, forming a hump, with round air intakes above the cockpit and oval exhausts on the sides of the engines. The small, bus-like fuselage with fixed landing gear features a stepped-up cockpit and rounded nose, and a tadpole-shaped body when viewed from bottom. The tapered tail boom has small, unequally tapered flats and a thin, swept-back fin with a rotor on the right.

The cabin door is hinged rather than sliding, which may limit operations. There is no armour protection for the cockpit or cabin. Ammo storage is in the aircraft cabin, so combat load varies by mission. Some Mi-2USs currently employ fuselage-mounted weapon racks rather than the 23-mm fuselage-mounted cannon which is removed. Some variants however, still employ the cannon. External stores are mounted on weapons racks on each side of the fuselage. Each rack has two hardpoints for a total of four stations.

Ladybird HU.1Edit

During the ongoing confrontation with Indonesia the New commonwealth forces, in particular the British Army which was naturally shouldering the majority of the burden, found themselves with an acute helicopter shortage. This manifested itself mainly in the observation and utility roles and a solution was urgently sort .

Ladybird HU.1A

British Ladybird HU.1 in Northern Ireland

At the Paris airshow of 1972 the Polish firm of WSK-Świdnik was showing off its new Mi-2URN Żmija ('Viper'), an armed reconnaissance version of its Mi-2. The aircraft suited the British Army's needs and was the right price, cheap.

After a short negotiation period the British Army ordered 24 of these Viper aircraft though without the S-5 unguided rocket capability and with the 23mm cannon replaced with a 20mm defa cannon.

The first aircraft was delivered in April 1975 and was deployed immediately deployed to the Indonesian theatre of operations where it acquitted itself well. It spent most of its career in the Far East but a flight of 4 aircraft are known to have operated in Northern Ireland during 79-82 and again in the aftermath of the '91 Disaster.

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