The Vietnam War paved the way for the venerable American “Huey Cobra” helicopter in the late 1960s. A decade later, the Russian “Hind” rose to prominence after taking inspiration from the previous war, subsequently reigning the skies through the Soviet-Afghan War—and over 50 years later, it remains a beast with its newer versions as Russian leader Vladimir Putin launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine. What’s crazy here is that both the opposing forces in the recent conflict adore and continue to rely on the Soviet-era helicopter gunship, facing each other on the battlefield using identical versions in a fight between neighbors.

Many military pilots and helicopter enthusiasts revered the Mil Mi-24 for its outstanding performance during the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan from late December 1979 to mid-February 1989, to which a handful of countries continue to operate it even well into the new millennium.

Taking Notes From America

Drawing inspiration from the American experience in Vietnam with the effectiveness of its Bell UH-1 Huey Cobra, the Soviets came up with a design that could ferry troops and, at the same time, serve as an aerial gun platform. At that time, such combining functions for the US troops were usually separated, and its lead designer, General Designer Mikhail Leontyevich Mil, wanted a single chopper to do both.

Mil proceeded to build a full-scale mockup of a “flying infantry fighting vehicle” designated as the V-24 in the mid-1960s, and by 1969, the prototype made her maiden flight and took three more years before officially introduced into operational service with the Soviet armed forces. NATO gave the newest Soviet whirlybird the nickname “Hind,” but for the Soviet pilots and aircrew, they dubbed the latest addition as the “flying tank,” a moniker first coined for the iconic World War II Soviet ground attack plane Il-2 Shturmovik. Other common unofficial names include “Krokodil” (“crocodile”), “Galina,” and “drinking glass.”