1:72 Russian Helicopters/Mil Mi-62K (NATO “Hepcat B”), aircraft “72 Red/RA-31098” of 125th OVP, Naval Aviation of the Baltic Fleet of Russia; Chkalovsk AB, 2015 (Whif/Kotobukiya kit conversion)

1:72 Russian Helicopters/Mil Mi-62K (NATO “Hepcat B”), aircraft “72 Red/RA-31098” of 125th OVP, Naval Aviation of the Baltic Fleet of Russia; Chkalovsk AB, 2015 (Whif/Kotobukiya kit conversion)

Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

Some background
After Mil Helicopters’ Mi-28 combat helicopter did not find takers, the design bureau decided in the 2000s to take a huge development step forward and question the basic helicopter layout. The result was the Mil Mi-62 (NATO reporting name: Hepcat), a single-seat attack gyrodyne/compound helicopter: a VTOL aircraft with a helicopter-like rotor system that is driven by its engine for take-off and landing but basically relies on conventional means of propulsion to provide forward thrust during cruising flight. Lift during forward flight is provided by a combination of the rotor, like an autogyro, as well as conventional wings, even though these alone would not keep the aircraft in the air.

The Mi-62 featured a tip-jet-powered rotor that burned a mixture of fuel and compressed air, bled from two wing-root-mounted jet engines. The rotor was only driven during the start/landing phase and at low speed. The air for the rotor was produced by compressors driven through a clutch off the main engines, though, which was fed through ducting up to the rotor head. Two Progress AI-222-25 turbofans, each rated at 24.52 KN (5.512 lbf), provided thrust for translational flight while the rotor autorotated, enabling VTOL and STOL start with overload. The cockpit controls included a cyclic and collective pitch lever, as in a conventional helicopter.

Each engine supplied air for a pair of opposite rotor blades. The rotor blades were a symmetrical airfoil around a load-bearing spar. The airfoil was made of carbon fiber and light alloy because of center of gravity concerns. The compressed air was channeled through three tubes within the blade to tip-jet combustion chambers, where the compressed air was mixed with fuel and burned, driving the rotor. As a torque-less rotor system, no anti-torque correction system was required. Propeller pitch was controlled by the rudder pedals for low-speed yaw control. To support handling at low speed, bleed air from the main engines was also ducted to a control vent system in the tail.

Transition from helicopter to autogiro took place at around 60 mph by extinguishing the tip-jets, and at higher speeds up to half the lift was provided by the fixed wings. At high cruising speed, the Mi-62 almost behaved like a standard aircraft. Cruising speed was to be at about 500 km/h (312 mph), coupled with a range of up to 1400 km (870 ml).

Since the speed of the advancing rotor tip is a primary limitation to the maximum speed of a helicopter, this arrangement allowed a faster maximum speed than pure helicopters such as the Mi-24/35 or the AH-64. The elimination of the tail rotor is a qualitative advantage, too, because the torque-countering tail rotor can use up to 30% of engine power. Furthermore, the vulnerable boom and rear gearbox are fairly common causes of helicopter losses in combat. The Mi-62’s entire transmission presents a comparatively small target to ground fire, and is a rather simple/rigid arrangement with much less moving parts than a standard helicopter.

The Mi-62 was designed as an alternative to Kamov’s successful Ka-50/52 program, and regarded as a heavier alternative. While the Ka-50 was designed to be small, fast and agile to improve survivability and lethality, the Mi-62 was to rely on speed, quick acceleration and decelleration as well as on good low altitude handling, coupled with sufficient protection against small caliber weapons. Since operation would be primarily at low level and using the landscape as cover, not much emphasis was put on stealth features, even though many passive protection elements like RAM were incorporated into the aircraft.

One of the program priorities was to enhance the helicopter’s survivability. With this goal in mind, the configuration and systems’ arrangement were chosen, assemblies designed, and structural materials tested, beyond the robust rotor propulsion system. The following measures to enhance pilot survivability were taken:

• Engines were placed on both sides of the airframe to prevent a single hit from destroying both engines
• The gyroplane could fly on a single engine in various modes – even with a damaged rotor a controlled landing glide was possible
• The cockpit was armored and screened with combined steel/aluminum armor and armored Plexiglas
• The hydraulic steering system compartment was armored and screened
• Vital units were screened by less important ones
• Self-sealing fuel tanks were filled with polyurethane foam
• Composites were used to preserve the helicopter’s efficiency when its load-carrying elements are damaged
• A two-contour rotor-blade spar was developed, integrating the air ducts
• Control rod diameter was increased by positioning most of them inside the armored cockpit
• The powerplant and compartments adjacent to the fuel tanks were fire-protected
• The hydraulic system is capable of operating for 30 minutes if the oil system is damaged
• The power supply systems, control circuits etc. were made redundant and placed on opposite sides of the airframe

The armor consisted of spaced-aluminum plates with a total weight of more than 300 kg. The armor is fitted into the fuselage load-bearing structure, which reduces the total weight of the helicopter. GosNIIAS tests confirmed the pilot’s protection up to 20mm caliber cannon rounds and shell fragments.

Another unique feature of the Mi-62 is the use of a rocket-parachute ejection system in case of an emergency. The helicopter emergency-escape system uses the K-37-800 ejection seat that was developed by the Zvezda Scientific Production Association (Chief Designer Guy Severin). The pilot’s safety was also ensured by the undercarriage design. The undercarriage is capable of absorbing large loads in an emergency landing, and the cockpit has a crunch zone of up to 10-15% upon impact.

Basic armament consists of a twin-barreled Sh2A42 30-mm gun. The gun is mounted in a shallow turret which can rotate full 360° near the center of fuselage. It has 460 rounds of ammunition, firing high-fragmentation, explosive incendiary rounds and armor-piercing rounds.
The cannon has a dual-feed, which allows for a cyclic rate of fire between 300 to 900 RPM. Its effective range varies from 1500 meters for ground vehicles to 2,500 meters for air targets. Stated penetration for the 3UBR8 is 25 mm of RHA at 1,500 meters.

Beyond that, the aircraft carries a substantial load of weapons in six external hardpoints under the stub wings. An total of some 2.000 kg mixed ordnance, including AAMs, AGMs, gun and unguided rocket pods which include the S-13 and S-8 rockets, can be carried. Even unguided and guided (IR, optical, laser) bombs have been successfully tested, so that the Mi-62 could eventually replace early Su-25 combat aircraft in the CAS role. The "dumb" rocket pods can be upgraded to laser guided with the proposed Ugroza system.

The main armament against moving ground targets consists of up to sixteen laser-guided Vikhr anti-tank missiles (transl. Vortex or whirlwind) with a maximum range of some 8 km. The laser guidance is reported to be virtually jam-proof and the system features automatic guidance to target, enabling evasive action immediately after missile launch.

Like the Ka-50, the Mil gyrodyne was from the outset to be operated by a single pilot only. Mil’s designers concluded after thorough research of helicopter combat in Afghanistan and other war zones that the typical attack mission phases of low-level approach, pop-up target acquisition and weapon launch would not simultaneously demand navigation, maneuvering and weapons operation of the pilot. Thus, with well-designed support automation, a single pilot was expected to carry out the entire mission alone.

During operational testing from 1995 to 1996 the workload on the pilot was found to be similar to that of a fighter-bomber pilot, and the pilot could perform both flying and navigation duties. Later flight tests of the Mi-62 prototypes proved that its handling was more like an aircraft with VTOL capabilities than a standard helicopter, so that jet pilots could master it with some training.

Initially the Mi-62 was to be have been fitted with the Merkury Low-Light TV (LLTV) system. Due to a lack of funding, the system was late and experienced reliability and capability issues. As a result, focus shifted to Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) systems, including the Shkval-N sighting system with an infrared sensor. Many versions were tried; on some the original "Shkval" was supplemented by a thermal imaging system, while others saw a complete replacement by the "Samshit" day-and-night system, which has become the final sensor standard, mounted in a chin sensor turret.

The fire control system automatically shares all target information among the four Mi-62 of a typical flight in real time, allowing one helicopter to engage a target spotted by another, and the system can also input target information from ground-based forward scouts with personnel-carried target designation gear.

The Mi-62 was, after a lengthy development and constant lack of funds, eventually adopted for service in the Russian army in 2015. It is currently manufactured by the new Russian Helicopters company that was founded in 2009 in Moscow, and built at the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant. It has been introduced to both Air Force (Mi-62 sans suffix, ‘Hepcat A’) and Naval Aviation (Mi-62K, ‘Hepcat B’) and is being used as a heavily armed attack helicopter against both ground and airborne targets.

The navalized Mi-62K derivative has been selected as the new ship-borne attack type for the Russian Naval Aviation (Aviatsiya Voenno-morskogo Flota Rossii). It will feature folding rotor blades and life-support systems for the crew, who will fly in immersion suits. The fuselage and systems will be given special anti-corrosion treatment and a new fire-control radar will be capable of operating in "Sea Mode" and of supporting anti-ship missiles. Aviatsiya Voenno-morskogo Flota Rossii will need no fewer than 20 Mi-62, which will be operated together with Ka-52Ks.

The first Mi-62K is tentatively slated to enter squadron service by late 2014 or early 2015, coinciding with the delivery of the first carrier of the new Mistral class amphibious assault ships, ordered by the Russian Defense Ministry. These small carriers will contain rotary-wing assets, formed into aviation groups, and each of these groups is planned to include eight attack and eight assault/transport helicopters.

General characteristics
Crew: One
Length (fuselage only): 13,46 m (44 ft 1 in)
Rotor diameter: 15,40 m (50 ft 5 1/2 in)
Height: 4.60 m (15 ft 1 in)
Disc area: 186.3 m² (1.998 ft²)
Empty weight: 7,700 kg (17,000 lb)
Loaded weight: 9,800 kg / 10,400 kg (21,600 lb / 22,930 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 10,800 kg (23,810 lb)
2× Progress AI-222-25 turbofans, 24.52 KN (5.512 lbf) each plus
4× rotor tip jet burning compressed air/fuel, 4.4 kN (1,000 lbf) thrust each
Never exceed speed: 550 km/h (297 knots, 342 mph) in dive
Maximum speed: 515 km/h (278 knots, 320 mph) in level flight
Cruise speed: 370 km/h (200 knots, 230 mph)
Range: 545 km (339 ml)
Combat radius: 800 km (500 ml)
Ferry range: 1400 km (870 ml) with 4 drop tanks
Service ceiling: 5,500 m (18,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 10.7 m/s (2,105 ft/min)

1× turret-mounted, wtin-barreled 30 mm Shipunov Sh2A42 cannon (460 rounds total, dual feeding AP or HE-Frag) under the fuselage
6×wing hardpoints with a capacity of 2,000 kg and provisions to carry combinations of launch pods for 80 mm S-8 rockets or 122 mm S-13 rockets, APU-6 Missile racks or up to 20× 9K121 Vikhr anti-tank missiles, 6× Vympel R-73 (NATO: AA-11 Archer) air-to-air missiles, Kh-25 semi-active laser guided tactical air-to-ground missiles, 4× 250 kg (550 lb) bombs or 2x 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombs, plus 23 mm UPK-23-250 gun pods (240 rounds each) or 500 l (130 US gal) external fuel tanks.
Two compartments in the lower fuselage with flare and chaff countermeasure dispensers, typically 4× UV-26 dispensers each (total 512 chaff/flare cartridges in each pod)

The kit and its assembly:
Another entry for the “Za Rodinu — The Anthony P Memorial Build” at whatifmodelers., and this time it’s a modern and rather exotic whif. Helicopters are rare among whiffers, so I thought I’d give that subject a chance, and I actually had the basis kit in store for some time, as I intended to build it for another GB but never got that kick to start it.

The fictional Mi-62 is a conversion of a snap-fit kit from Kotobukiya from a series of generic, roughly 1:72 scale mecha vehicles that do not belong to a specific series or movie, but they seem to be intended to go well with Gundam or Dougram. These are rather toy-like, sturdy things, but they have potential for more – especially the gyroplanes (two different types exist).

These seem to be unmanned drones/UAVs, though, and that immediately leads to the conversions I made. Most important change is a manned cockpit with a clear canopy (from a KP Su-25) and the respective, scratched interior.

Another big change was the deletion of the original, gigantic gatling gun under the fuselage, replaced by a much smaller twin cannon turret. That left a lot of ground clearance – as a late modification I decided to chop the landing gear and the respective fin/wing endplates by more than 1cm, so that the gyroplane would sit closer to the ground.

Further small cosmetics include an asymmetrical radome and a protruding pitot boom, some antenna bulges, new engine exhausts, chaff dispensers in the fuselage flanks, and free-standing main wheels.

The ordnance comes from a Dragon Soviet-Air-To-Ground-Ordnance kit, hung onto six new wing hardpoints (from a 1:144 F-4E and an ESCI Ka-34 in 1:72, IIRC).

Painting and markings:
Choosing a proper scheme was tricky. The helicopter was to look realistic, but still exotic, at least for Russian standards. I considered various options:
● An all-mid-grey livery, inspired by current Mi-35 attack helicopters. Too dull & simple!
● A trefoil-style scheme in khaki and olive drab, with blue undersides. Flashy, but IMHO rather old-school.

I finally found an original scheme on a Ka-62 prototype (shown at MAKS-2009): a wraparound scheme in olive drab, medium grey and chocolate brown. The colors are enamels, I used Olive Drab ANA 613 (ModelMaster #2050), German Uniform “Feldgrau” (ModelMaster #2014) Grey and German Armor Red Brown (Humbrol 160), later highlighted through dry-brushing with lighter shades of the basic tones and a black ink wash, standard process.

The interior was to be Russian-style, too, but instead of the eye-boggling turquoise I went for PRU Blue (Humbrol 230) inside of the cockpit. Still looks odd, but it’s not so bright.

As a twist I decided to use Russian Navy markings – and the real world introduction of Mistral Class ships was a good excuse for a naval version of this attack helicopter. The Naval Aviation used to and does employ many land-based aircraft and helicopters, incl. e. g. the Mi-24, in similar liveries to the Air Force or Army cousins.

The markings were puzzled together from various aftermarket decal sheets from Begemot , Authentic Decals and TL Modellbau, as well as from the scrap box. After some additional dry-brushing with medium grey overall, the kit was sealed with a coat of matt acrylic varnish.

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