Mil MI-8T HS-4 tail boom stabilizer covering began
Keskiviikko 27.9.2023 - Tuesday Club member
An example of a Mil MI-8T helicopter, used by the Defence Forces and registered as HS-4, is situated in the Karelian Aviation Museum. The tail boom stabilizers’ covering fabric is rotten and partly lacking altogether. Two thirds of the area of the stabilizers is covered with fabric and one third with sheets of aluminium. The aluminium surfaces are still in good condition, apart from a worn-out coat of paint.
Photo by Kimmo Marttinen
In the spring the Karelian Aviation Museum offered the covering work of the stabilizers to Aviation Museum Society’s Tuesday Club. We agreed, because we had earlier covered the tail boom stabilizers of HS-6, which stands at the yard of the Tuulonen shopping centre. We promised to start the work in the autumn.
For the covering a permission from The Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command (FDFLOGCOM) was needed, because the helicopter is still in their possession. Permission was granted and in such a form, that we could cover the stabilizers with fabric as they originally were, or alternatively with thin aluminium sheet.
We agreed with the Karelian Aviation Museum that the stabilizers would be covered with a weatherwise better thin aluminium sheet, instead of fabric, as we had done with the HS-6 stabilizers last year. At the same time it was decided that after the covering the stabilizers would be painted all round, ergo the upper surfaces greyish green and the undersurfaces light grey, according to HS-4.
The Museum detached the HS-4 tail boom stabilizers in April, after which they were delivered to the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa. At the beginning of the Tuesday Club’s autumn season the removal of the remaining rotten pieces of fabric was started. The last bits were removed with the tip of a knife. In the same manner we scratched off the thick layer of paint on the stabilizer’s steel reinforcements.
Before the grinding of the HS-4 tail boom stabilizers’ faded and dirty aluminium surfaces could be started, the tone of the colour of the stabilizers’ upper and under surfaces was defined. At the Vantaa branch of Pintaväri the light greyish green of the upper surfaces was defined as the Defence Forces camouflage light green paint, code AN 22. With an electronic tone gauge the stabilizer’s faded green coat of paint was defined to be the greenish tone SG010-G9OY. The light grey of the undersurface was defined as S2500-N. We also defined the tones of the stabilizers’ aluminium surface, using the colour maps at the Finnish Aviation Museum. According to them the upper surface green was RAL 6013 Reed Gray. The undersurface light grey is closest to RAL Effect 830-1. According to the camouflage scheme of the Defence Forces for Mi-8 helicopters, the tone of the stabilizer upper surface is Light bronze green, and the undersurface is Light aircraft gray. We’ll take a closer look at this tone-of-paint-puzzle before the actual painting phase of the stabilizers.
The grinding of the faded paint surfaces was done by a random orbital grinding machine, using P180 and P240 grit sanding discs. Our aim wasn’t to grind the faded coats of paint to pure aluminium. It’s sufficient when dirt and loose paint have been removed from the surfaces and the stabilizer steel reinforcements cleaned of rust. When grinding the stabilizer surfaces, darker green adhesive primer appeared. On some uneven parts pure aluminium surface appeared.
There are roundhead rivets on the stabilizer and the stabilizer’s tip, made of glass-fibre reinforced plastic, has been attached with roundhead screws with grooves. When working on the rows of rivets and screws, the random orbital grinding machine wasn’t the best tool. So we used a grinding brush fixed to a power drilling machine to clean the rivet and screw stubs, which was very suitable for the purpose. Both the HS-4 tail boom stabilizers are ready now for the actual covering.
Photos by Lassi Karivalo except if otherwise mentioned.
Translation by Matti Liuskallio.