Helicopters from Náměšť introduced their new tiger camouflage
After almost forty-three years of work for the Czech Army, the service of Mi-24/35 helicopters is slowly coming to an end. In 2023, these machines will be gradually replaced by the American Bell H-1. In honor of and as a thank you to these graceful helicopters, the 221st Helicopter "Tiger" Squadron of the 22nd Helicopter Air Force Base decided to embellish the machine with fuselage number 3369 with new camouflage.
Members of the 221st Helicopter Squadron came up with the idea. As the "Biscay" helicopter base in Náměšť is the bearer of the traditions of the 311th Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron of the RAF, the new camouflage refers to its history. The inspiration was last year's 80th anniversary of the founding of this squadron. The only Czechoslovak bomber squadron within the RAF was established on July 29, 1940 and was armed with Vickers Wellington and Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft. A total of 1164 members served in this unit. "Camouflage is an expression of respect and thanks to all pilots, armourers, mechanics and other aviation specialists who laid down their lives for freedom in World War II," Lt. Col. Miroslav Šajban, commander of the 221st Helicopter Squadron, said.
The camouflage was created by Vladimír Hirscher
The graphic design is signed by the Czech street art artist Vladimír Hirscher, for whom the spraying of military equipment was a great challenge and the first experience. The helicopter was sprayed by airbrush. With a total machine area of 100 m2, 50 kg of paint was used.
Images with a puzzle
The front of the helicopter depicts a tiger's head, which symbolically connects the squadron with the prestigious Association of Tiger Squadrons (NTA - NATO Tiger Association). The location of the tiger's head in front is intended to reflect the present and at the same time the expectations of new helicopters in the near future. In the middle part of the machine, Vickers Wellington and Consolidated B-24 Liberator aircraft are made in a realistic form. Speech metaphors: "As planes flew into battle at sunset during the war, so the night sky marks the end of the Mi-24/35 service in the Czech Air Force." The hidden transmitted reference is the number of stars in the night sky, which is the same as the number of fallen "three hundred and eleven" pilots. A sharp eye will find 247 of them.
Picture: The hidden transferred link is the number of stars in the night sky, which is the same as the number of fallen "three hundred and eleven" pilots. A sharp eye will find 247. | Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic
The Mi-24/35 helicopter with fuselage number 3369 was sprayed in the hangars of the LOM Praha state enterprise after a general overhaul. The machine carrying a completely new "tiger" camouflage was first lifted into the air by Jaroslav Špaček, who was at the birth of the Czech helicopter tiger squadron and since 2016 has held a prestigious position within the Association's advisory board.
Czech tigers are popular
The 221st "Tiger" Squadron wanted to build on the successes it had achieved several times during its nearly twenty-year membership with a new camouflage. Czech helicopters won the prestigious The Best Painted Aircraft Trophy three times, in 2004 with Tiger camouflage tearing the side of the helicopter, in 2005 with The Night Tiger camouflage and most recently in 2016 with The Alien camouflage in as part of the annual NATO Tiger Meet exercise.
"A new injection with a new tiger symbolism was planned on the occasion of the squadron's participation in this international exercise, but unfortunately due to coronavirus we did not have the opportunity to participate in this year's event. I hope that we will be able to demonstrate our new camouflage at the September meeting of the NATO Tiger Association, when this organization will celebrate 60 years of existence," Lt. Col. Šajban added.
NATO Tiger Squadron Association
The tradition of tiger squadrons dates back to World War II among American pilots. It is an organization uniting air units from alliance countries, which have in the emblem of a tiger or other feline beast and its official origins date back to 1961. Tiger squadrons have flown every year since their foundation to practice new ways of air combat, exchange experiences or tested their colleagues' machines. At present, the Association of Tiger Squadrons has 23 full members, including the 221st Náměšť Tiger Squadron and the 211th Čáslav Tactical Squadron. There is also a so-called honorary membership in this Association, for up to another 10 squadrons and one squadron can be invited to the so-called exam.
In addition to full membership in the Tiger Association in 2002, the Czech Helicopter Squadron won the so-called "Silver Tiger Trophy", which is awarded to a pilot in each year of the NTM, which other participants will determine as the best in the year.