Thursday, June 15

Read n' reviewed: Aces High Issue 9: "Helicopters - Modern War Horses" Magazine

Gary loves his helicopters, and he likes modelling them just as much – perfect candidate we thought to read and review AK Interactive's new book in their "Aces High" series. See what he thought in his overview of the mag...
Read n' reviewed: Helicopters - Modern War Horses
Aces High Issue 9 - AK Interactive
Edited by Daniel Zamarbide Suarez
Published: Feb 2017
Reviewed: May 2017
Price: £8, US$10, EUR 9, AU$13

Helicopters - Modern War Horses is the ninth title in the Aces High series of aircraft modelling magazines. Aces High is a specialised magazine for scale aircraft modellers. The magazine is divided into several articles, which guide the reader step by step through the processes of building each featured model. Each issue of Aces High is devoted to a unique theme, eg Issue No. 1 dealt with German Night Fighters of WW2.

The Aces High series is published by AK Interactive, and as you would expect there is a heavy emphasis on the weathering process in many of the builds. I found the step-by-step coverage to be well laid out (not cramped like other magazines I have read) with a minimum of real estate allocated to advertising, which is a welcome change.
I think that modellers buy magazines of this style for two main reasons, 1) Inspiration, to see good quality photos of realistically finished models is inspiring and gives us something to aim for; 2) Education, to learn new techniques used by advanced modellers and to see how new products and tools can be best used.

The softcover, 80 page, A4 format, colour contents are broken down into 7 sections:
History of the Military Helicopter - 10 pages providing a brief narrative with colour profiles and photos of the development and operational use of helicopters in combat roles.
OH-58D Kiowa (AFV Club 1:35) Build - 12 pages detailed step by step showing build and weathering by Juan Villegas
AH-64E Apache (Hasegawa 1:48) Build -12 pages where Oto Drobik builds and extremely weathers the latest E variant of the Apache
MH-53J Pave Low III (Fujimi 1:72) - 8 pages where Juanjo Dominguez provides a detailed explanation of the extensive scratch building and painting of his small-scale Jolly Green Giant
UH-1H Huey (Panda Models 1:35) - 8 pages are dedicated to Matthew Waterman's build of a Vietnam era RAAF Huey with detailed photos of his construction and riveting efforts.
AH-1Z Viper (Kittyhawk 1:48) - 8 pages as Jose Araujo briefly shares his step by step work on the recent Kittyhawk kit.
H-34 (Gallery Models 1:48) - 9 pages where the final build by Rudi Meir unfolds with equal coverage for construction work, detailed painting and weathering

I have to admit as I flipped through this magazine for the first time I was drawn to the attack helicopters, they are the sharp edge of the sword and look downright mean, even as models, but as I read more of the builds I found that each one had something to teach me. In particular, the amount of building effort that has gone into the 1/72 MH-53J is just plain impressive.

If I'm honest I would have preferred to see fewer subjects covered (say 4 instead of 6) and more detail on each build. 8 pages do not really do justice to the level of effort poured into these models and to make the photos fit into the real estate available means they become smaller and harder to appreciate. On the bright side the photography is very well done, each photo properly lit and crisply in focus. I'm also glad to report that the magazine is not overwhelmed by advertising, something that often turns many people off printed material.
The first section in the book is entitled 'The History of the Military Helicopter Part 1' and provides a brief chronology of helicopter development from their beginnings to Vietnam. A second part is hinted at 'for a future article' at the end of the section so perhaps there is another Aces High Helicopters issue in the works. The coverage here is very light with two paragraphs assigned to each of several key helicopters (Wessex, Huey, Cobra etc) to give a sense of the importance of helicopters in aerial warfare.
The first build is one of the larger scale builds (1/35) and takes us thru 38 steps of the construction, painting and of course weathering. I found the coverage of the paint weathering using oils to be very informative on this particular build.
The author used a considerable amount of resin updates from Zactomodels and decals from Fireball Modelworks, which is all explained in his own words in the preamble. The build progression is laid out logically and is easy to follow and make sense of.
There is a heavy emphasis on weathering techniques on all the builds in this magazine. Where appropriate, products used are called out to make it easier for the reader to source them if desired. This particular Kiowa was operated in Iraq during 2007 and so was exposed to some pretty extreme conditions, the model finish reflects that well.
Another of the builds that caught my attention was the 1:48 Hasegawa AH-64E Guardian. This is a relatively new kit and one that interested my personally. The explanation provided at the start of this section by Oto Drobik explains that he used many harsh weathering techniques normally reserved for AFV's such as pigments. Battlefield helicopters like the Apache spend most of their time down low churning up clouds of dirt and dust so heavy weathering is perfectly appropriate.
The Apache has been adopted by many operators around the world and like most of their aircraft the Israeli Air Force AH-64D look impressive and make a welcome change from the standard olive drab finish used by other operators.
Switching now to 1:72 we move from attack to transport/rescue with a very detailed build of the Fujimi MH-53 Jolly Green Giant. Well over half of this article is dedicated the scratch building and detailing work performed. The author, Juanjo Dominguez, takes up through 42 steps in his quest to build the ultimate Pave Low III.
It really wouldn't be a proper book on combat helicopters without a UH-1 Huey somewhere inside. This one caught my eye because it was an Australian RAAF subject and also because the base model Matthew Waterman started with was the Panda kit in 1/35. Although he described the base kit as a "terrible model", Matthew took on the challenge of correcting, converting and detailing this beast. A very interesting read on scratch building techniques.
Back to 1:48 and Kitty Hawk we see Jose Araujo tackle their AH-1Z Cobra. A nice kit by all accounts (certainly one of KH's less maligned). This is more or less a straight out the box build with the major emphasis being on the painting and weathering steps, 34 in total.
To round out the builds we have, last but not least, the Gallery Models 1:48 H-34. This build used a broad range of products and techniques to enhance the base kit, including a very nice rotor fold. The author once again takes us through the assembly, painting and weathering of the model.
If you are interested in helicopters and looking for a fairly light read that both inspires and educates, then this Aces High issue delivers. At a list price of US$10, I think its great value and I'm sure you will find yourself referring back to its pages more than once. Don't buy this magazine expecting super detailed coverage of any particular model or technique, it is more of a jack of all trades. It's certainly done its job well of making me look more seriously at several helicopters kits in my stash :)

Gary Wickham

Thanks to Aces High for sending this to Gary to Read and review. This magazine is now available to purchase from the AK Interactive Website directly of from Their Distributors worldwide