Category Archives: helicopter

MRC 1/35 UH-I Huey

I was always fascinated by the Huey. It is the symbol of the US involvement in Vietnam, and of every horrible thing that came out of that conflict. Even the last event of the war -the fall of Saigon- is associated with the evacuation of the US Embassy using the Huey. The UH-1 was the first real combat helicopter, and it made insertion -and evacuation- of troops much faster; it made fire-support easier, and it lead to the development of the first dedicated combat helicopter, the AH-1. Its variants are still used widely all over the globe; all in all, it has proven to be a singularly successful design.

In other words: it’s a legendary vehicle in both the good and the bad meaning of the word.

I used to have an English teacher back home, who happened to be a Vietnam veteran; he was one of those guys who was dropped in jungles with these helicopters, carrying a radio and an M16. He did not really discuss his experiences in the war. He was (and is) a very good-humoured person; I think if you survive the horrors of war, you can either break, or be happy and grateful for every single day you get from life.

Anyhow, back to the model. MRC has issued a 1/35 version of this chopper with the engine added; I was very much excited to get my hands on one cheap (it was a second hand model). This was in my transition period between aircraft and armored fighting vehicles, mind you; about sixteen years ago. It’s also one of those models I got in Europe, brought to the USA to build, and then have it shipped back with the rest of my belongings…

The build, in general, went together quite well, although there was a gigantic fit issue with the fuselage; somehow the two halves just did not join up… A big problem, MRC. It took me a lot of time to fill up the gaps.

This is a retrospective post as well; I still have to find images of the completed model. (It’s in storage in my mother’s attic, along with all my builds from the US.)

 

The first steps of building the interior. So far, so good.

 

The rotor mast

 

The finished rotor looks really good; it is a very nice representation of the real thing.

The engine looks great; I’ve added some thin wiring for extra detail. Because the exhaust is corroded and darkened by the fumes, I started with a black base, and dry-brushed some brown on top.

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Work on the engine compartment; because it looked a bit empty, I added some extra cables.

Thins are falling together. The straps for the seats were made from aluminium foil.

The instrument panel – base coat…

The painted instrument panel. I have to say, there’s a lot going on for pre-painted PE instrument panels.

Finished interior looks pretty good to me, even without PE or other aftermarket parts. The box of grenades stroke me as a strange addition to the model; I’d expect a wooden box laying around unsecured would end up sliding out into the big empty.

Finished engine bay. At this point I was seriously pleased with myself -until the next step, that is.

Nope. It does not fit. It does not fit at all.

 

Masking and painting. There was a serious case of filling everything up with two-part epoxy – the stress on the fuselage halves is so big, I needed to have the filler itself is acting as an adhesive. I don’t think plastic glue alone would have been sufficient. It made sanding around the windscreen pretty hazardous, though, and unfortunately some fine details (rivets, panel lines) fell victim of the process.

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The finished model -well, almost finished. Some details were needed to be painted (I don’t have any more photos left, unfortunately…) As soon as I find some, I’ll update the post.

DML 1/72 Mil Mi-28

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This is also a very, very old build -and an even older model that I’d been dreaming about when I was 13.
As many others, I’ve started scale models with airplanes: old-school Czech, Polish and Russian models, with an occasional Airfix thrown in. (Mind you, this was in the ’80s, behind the Iron Curtain.) These models came in smallish cartboard boxes with drawings as box art (at best), and they lacked the polish, professional look of the Western (and Asian) kits.

I still remember the first Airfix model I’ve got: a Hawker Typhoon in 1/72. The model was in a bag, with the artwork printed on a cartoon to which the bag was stapled to… and it’s still in circulation.

 

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But I digress. After 1989 the first “Western” models appeared: Revell, Tamiya, Hasegawa, and the rest; beautifully printed (and very light) boxes, which forever seemed to be out of reach, as the incredible increase in price made it sure I could not afford them on my pocket money. (An “Eastern bloc” model cost about 60-130Ft; the new ones vent for 1200-2000Ft at the time. The minimal wage was 4000Ft, and my allowance was 20Ft, just to give you a context.)

This particular model, the Mil Mi-28 was a particularly attractive one due to the looks of the helicopter. Back in the days I -as every other kid my age- was all over American military hardware; the Apache, the F-15, and other aircraft were the pinnacle of all that is cool, so the attraction to this particular helicopter was out of character for sure. I remember see a box of this model was sitting on a shelf of a stationery/toy store in the neighbourhood for years…

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Fast forward to 2004, the price of this model was much more agreeable, and I promptly bought it when I was living in Boca Raton. (I have to admit I really felt guilty spending money on it, as I was still a student living under the poverty line.) Additional motivation to buy this model was the Commanche vs Hokum game, which I played a lot back then (although never in a serious, campaign mode, as I still have not mastered the whole game -or any sim game, for that matter- yet.)

I have not made photos of the build itself, unfortunately, but it went together quite well. The cockpit was very sparse (which is a shame), but most of the details would be hidden by the small, thick windows, anyhow.

I used masking tape to cover the transparent parts and the gun, which needed to be attached to the model before painting if I wanted it to be positionable. (It goes between the two fuselage halves.)  The model was sprayed using Surfacer 1000.

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The bottom of the helicopter was sprayed in the light blue/grey characteristic of Russian aircraft, and masked using tape.

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The three tone camo was applied with an airbrush and I used silly putty for masking out the different areas; the results were spectacularly nice (for my expectations).

 

 

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As usual when using masking, some areas were not perfect, and had to be retouched using a paintbrush.

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Once the camo was finished, I’ve attached and painted the small details, did some very light weathering, and considered the model to be finished. The yellow band on the rotor was also spray painted, using masking tape to get a straight line. (This was my first experience in trying to achieve an even coverage with yellow. It took lots of fine layers.)

This model is from the earlier DML offerings, but it has no major flaws (no fit issues, no warped parts), and the level of detail is very good even by today’s standards.

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