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PRHSiE - Mil Mi-8 T Helicopter


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So you prepare for a GB. You identify the kit in your stash which fits the topic and start a thread on BM, just as I did with my Gripen, Maybe you even post some pictures of the sprues.

 

And then a kit is release which tells such a compelling story that fits a GB topic so exceptionally well, that you just cannot help it, but have to slot it in. This is the case here:

 

prhse

 

 

The kit itself is a repack of the well known Zvezda mould by a fairly unknown polish company called Akkura (at least I haven't heard abou them unitil a week ago or so).

 

2021-03-02_09-48-14

 

However it is the story behind the markings is well worth telling (they are made by a company called Oscar Lima Decals - the decal sheet includes additional undescribed markings for Czech and EUFOR machines).

 

2021-03-02_09-47-09

 

I would like to concentrate in this GB on the machine depicted on the box art though.

 

Gentlemen and Ladies,

I present to you the: MIL Mi-8 T "LIVE AID" (POLISH RELIEF SQUADRON ETHIOPIA 1985)

 

The great hunger

To say Ethiopia was not really blessed with luck in the 20th century would be a gross understatement.

The country, which had remained independent during the rampart colonization phase of the 18th and 19th century but was invaded and conquered by the Italians during Mussolini’s fascist reign. After regaining independence in 1941 the country struggled with similar problems as other African nations ideological changes, war and poor government policies, The most prominent crisis was particularly though the famine and drought in the mid-eighties which led to the demise of between 400,000 and 1,5 million of Etiopians.

This crisis was widely publicized in the world and sparked a lot of relief efforts, with “Live Aid” concerts being the most well-known. What was remarkable that the relief was not only orchestrate by the west but was an effort involving also countries from the communist bloc. In fact, it was the Soviets who majored in the logistic support of the operation.

While the response to the famine is regarded critically in hindsight, as it prolonged the civil war and rule of the communist regime in Ethiopia, it was a pivotal moment in terms of NGO involvement, relief and humanitarian aid.

 

Poles in Ethiopia

As mentioned, the humanitarian effort gathered support from all around the world. For Poland this became an opportunity to regain some international goodwill after lifting the martial law which was imposed in the wake of the pro-democracy protests in 1980/81. Therefore, while struggling with economic issues on it’s own, the polish government decided to send in 1985 a detachment of three MI-8 helicopters to Ethiopia, which became known as the “Polish Relief Helicopter Squadron in Ethiopia.

What might come as a surprise the Poles rejected to put their squad under Soviet command arguing that the UN, RAF and Luftwaffe requested urgent help, in scouting out locations for landing strips, and also since their Transalls and Hercules could not reach all parts of the country.

Therefore, the Ethiopian mission became one of the first instances of cooperation of Poles with it’s later NATO partners.

 

An interesting feature of the kit I am about to build are the markings. The kit shows a prominent red cross, but you may struggle to find images of this livery. The reason is, that these initial markings were vetoed by the International Red Cross, which did not want to associate itself with the communist regimes. This led to, after the first month of operations, to a replacement  with the red and white checkerboard, the traditional insignia of the Polish air force.

Edited by Anatol Pigwa
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What a great choice, a very important piece of history to cover.

I must admit that I was not aware of the Polish Mi-8's that were sent to help in the relief effort in Ethiopia but I well remember the terrible images of starvation that were on our TV every night and the sight of aircraft such as the RAF's Hercules bringing in aid. You have chosen a way to cover one of the saddest stories to come out of Africa since WWII, all credit to you.

The fact that it will be an Mi-8 makes it even better as far as I am concerned as I really like them. I have built the Zvezda kit years ago and enjoyed it, so I look forward to seeing another being built. Will your build have the large Red Cross markings?

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Thanks for your kind words.

 

Growing up in the eighties, the famine in Ethiopia is the first remembrance of news from Africa and therefore shaped in my perception of the continent.

 

The story is sad, but this helicopter is a sign of hope and relief - a nice change from the martial machines I am usually building. Therefore, yes I will build the version with the big red cross markings.

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  • Anatol Pigwa changed the title to PRHSiE - Mil Mi-8 T Helicopter

What an excellent subject Anatol! Thank you for bringing this one to the GB and telling the background story of it :speak_cool:

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How did I miss this one? What a fantastic subject. Will be following with interest,

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  • 1 month later...

playing catch up Nice choice Thanks for the historical background 

Martin H

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