Tuesday, August 1

In-Boxed: Andrew Perren shows us his "Chopper" in his 48th scale UH-1D/H "Huey" review...

Andrew Perren was more than happy to take Kittyhawk's new "Huey" off our hands and get building it. He is already making this kit into something special, but he paused to show us what is inside the box in some detail before he shows you his build in the upcoming weeks. See what he thinks of the kit so far in today's review...

UH-1D/H "Huey"
Kittyhawk
1/48th scale
Kit Number# KH80154

Part 1. In Box Review by Andrew Perren.

The UH-I Iroquois (Huey)
For a kid growing up in my generation, there was nothing more synonymous with the word helicopter, than the familiar tadpole shape and distinctive “wokka wokka” sound of the Bell Iroquois (to quote its correct name).

Developed by the Bell Helicopter Co. to meet a U.S. Army requirement for a utility and medevac helicopter, it first flew in 1956. The original designation HU-1 led to the nickname “Huey” which has stuck with it throughout a long production & service life. More than 16,000 helicopters left the production lines and have served numerous users on every continent. Many modernised Hueys remain in service today.

The Vietnam war proved the value of helicopters on the modern battlefield and became etched into history as “the helicopter war”. Taking on the roles of troop transport, casualty evacuation, logistics support and even aerial weapons platform, the versatility of a rotary wing aircraft was demonstrated again and again. Many of these roles were performed by our subject, the Bell Huey.
The Kit
The kit is marketed as a UH-1D which was the first of the so called “long bodied” Huey’s. It could also be built as an early UH-1H because all the necessary parts are there as well. The easy way to tell was the position of the pitot tube. On the nose for a UH-1D, this was moved to the roof between the upper windows for a UH-1H. The twin FM whisker antennae on the nose of the UH-1D were also deleted for the UH-1H. The UH-1H received an uprated version of the Lycoming turbine engine. Many UH-1Ds were later upgraded to UH-1H specs anyway. You are greeted with box art which shows an evocative Vietnam war scene (ironically showing neither pitot option!).
Inside the stout top opening box, there are 3 large grey plastic sprues, individually bagged. A separate internal box protects a single clear sprue which is also bagged. A medium sized fret of photo etched brass (no colour) and two decal sheets also come in a clear plastic sleeve. A fold out instruction sheet with colour profiles round out the package contents.
For 1/48th scale modellers, the options for a long bodied Huey had been a very old ESCI kit and a slightly younger, but only slightly better Italeri kit. Both could be built and many have, but they both suffered from poor details, inaccurate shapes and outdated design & tooling philosophy.

Let’s look at the sprues on offer from Kittyhawk. Sprue A is loaded with a lot of small parts, the majority of which are elements of the weapons options and cabin doors.
Parts for two types of rocket pods. Miniguns, 50 Cal and M60 Door guns.
Forward main cabin doors (18 &19) and the overhead panel (17) between the pilot seats. Note that the overhead panel is devoid of detail even though some lovely detail is drawn in the instructions?
Close ups of the main and pilots doors showing some really finely details parts. The landing skids are a multi part affair and be careful with the cross tubes, they are both labelled (26) but are different and can only be installed one way. The mounting points clearly determine front from back.
Sprue B contains the main airframe components including separate tail boom halves and main body pieces. Some of the exterior detail may look a little heavy for some tastes but to me, it seems fine.
The exterior surfaces are rendered with a mix of raised and recessed details. Note that there are a lot of extra sprue nubs which I can only assume are there to help facilitate mould removal and prevent short shot parts. These will mean some extra time cleaning up the parts.
There are also a number of internal surfaces detailed with a convincing representation of the quilted soundproofing including the separate ceiling.
The main cabin floor looks to be a good base for building the interior onto and has a finely engraved tie down pattern on it which is well thought out. The holes on the floor are for the cabin seating supports. The cabin seating in the Huey was modular and able to be arranged in different configurations or in fact removed altogether. We’ll have to see whether the pre-drilled holes will be an aid or a hindrance later.
A separate engine deck (13) and front cowling (12) bodes well for those who will choose to open the engine compartment. The separate upper nose (11) is also a welcome change rather than the traditional left/right half style.
Sprue C is the last of the main sprues and concentrates on the rotor assemblies, engine parts and interior details including the pilots and main cabin seats.
The main rotor blades feature an accurate shape and are moulded with a droop.
The pilot seats are of the armoured type and the cabin seats have a moulded in fabric drape.
The clear sprue (GP) is bagged and boxed separately which shows an increasing level of customer awareness from Kittyhawk. I believe they are making steps in the right direction compared to their first releases.
The clear parts are really clear and sharply done. Most of the windows have positive location recesses so that makes me happy if they fit where they are supposed to go.
The single biggest "wow" moment since opening this box is the one-piece upper glass and windscreen combo. This has been a weak area of all Huey kits to date so mark a point in the win column for Kittyhawk for that one.
The last of the parts is a single fret of photo etched brass, containing amongst other things - mesh screens, seatbelts and details for the door guns.
There are two decal sheets with the larger containing markings for the 7 decal options included. Some basic stencils are included however I suspect that more stencils may need to be sourced from elsewhere. One point to note in the review kit is that my decal sheet is badly out of register This is most noticeable on the small German flags and the tail boom danger warning arrow. I have a second kit which is a little better so check yours. There is no information on the sheet to inform who the sheets are printed by but in my opinion, they are not up to the quality that is expected today.
The second smaller sheet contains some colour nose art and decals for the instrument panels.
There are four U.S Army UH-1D aircraft from the Vietnam conflict in the markings. All in the standard olive drab scheme with red elevators and black anti-glare nose panels.
Option 5 is named as UH-1H aircraft of the Taiwanese Air Force, the timeframe is not noted.
Option 6 is an attractive UH-1H in a 3 colour scheme of the Japanese Ground Self Defence Force. Again, the timeframe is not noted but this seems to be a more modern scheme.
The final choice is a UH-1D from the German Luftwaffe in another 3 colour scheme reminiscent of the 80’s at a guess.
Colour callouts are included on the profiles and although it is not specified I believe they relate to Gunze range of paints. Strangely all the profiles are the same and give no clue to help decide which kit options to use. I can’t make any assertions on the accuracy or otherwise of these marking choices but I would suggest that the modeller satisfies themselves with other reference sources.

Conclusions
Could it be true that this most quintessential of helicopter types has, at last, received its due love and respect? Has a model company taken the subject to new heights of detail and modern design ideas and combined this with today’s benchmark tooling standards?

Well yes, and no..
.
OK, I should explain myself. I love the looks of this kit. The parts count alone is a quantum leap forward over its predecessors. The detail is fine and there’s tons of it. There are options included that many modellers would previously have had to resort to the aftermarket or scratch building before. They are now included in the box. The modular design which is a bit of a Kittyhawk feature may cause some fit issues but so far my dry fitting sessions are not worrying me on that score.

My concerns are that some of the options are incomplete. Some of the parts shown in the drawings and profiles are not in the kit. Some of the parts in the kit are not shown on either the drawings or the profiles. While we are on the profiles they are a complete work of fiction as far as choosing optional parts, and the instructions would have you fit all the optional parts on the one build. There is no way for a beginner or someone not familiar with the subject to make an informed choice. If you were to just blindly follow the instructions, you would end up with a strange hybrid of features unlikely to represent any of the kit decal options or any other option for that matter.

It’s not as bad as it sounds but a careful check of references will help you decide which choices to make for your chosen subject if that is important to you. I’ll repeat I love this kit.
With such a long service history with so many operators, the subtle yet noticeable differences in equipment or antennae fit alone would make your head spin. That said the kit seems to be more aimed at a Vietnam war era aircraft so that is what I will be doing for mine. 

For the first time ever on a build I have had to resort to writing lists for myself to plan my build:
Kit parts/options to leave out completely.
Kit parts/options to include.
Kit parts to modify to improve detail and accuracy.
Missing details to add where no kit part exists.
I’ll be building the kit here so follow along with me and we’ll see where we end up.

Andrew Perren.
P.S. I’ll leave some photos of the instructions here.


Thanks to Kittyhawk for sending this Huey to Andy to build and review- The build is "inbound" as Andy already has the helicopter nearly at painting stage. Super Detailed build to follow in the next week or so. Stay tuned...