Huey Kit Roundup

I haven’t done a thing on the Huey over the past few days, but I did receive kits #4 and #5 over the weekend. This is becoming a bit silly at this point, so let’s take stock of what I’ve got (all of these are in 1:72 scale):
  • Huey UH-1C Gunship (Italeri): This was the first one I ordered, before I had done much research on the subject or really talked to the person who I would ultimately end up building a Huey for. In short, this one is all wrong because this one didn’t have a "gunner" position, but it does seem to be a fairly accurate build. Also, the markings are simple but seem appropriate for the era.
  • UH-1D "Slick" (Italeri): This is what I thought was going to be my main build. As it turns out, the actual "correct" Huey was most likely a UH-1H. I may end up using the interior from this and sticking it in the UH-1H, however. Or maybe I’ll just convert this to a UH-1H. That’s probably the best bet. They’re not that different on the outside. And the differences should be easy enough to reproduce. Note that both Italeri kits (and the Hasegawa kit) have the front cargo doors molded onto the body, so removing them will require kit surgery.
  • Huey UH-1H Iroquois (Hasegawa): This is the kit that I’ve already started. By visual inspection, it also appears to be the worst of the bunch. I’m basing that solely on the amount of flash present. And there is a lot of it. The cockpit seats are not Vietnam era, so they’ll either need to be modified or replaced. It comes with no U.S. markings for the Vietnam era. There’s no cabin seating whatsoever, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that yet. In short, this is a great kit to practice on, but I hope it doesn’t become my "good" one.
  • Bell 205/UH-1N (AeroPlast): This is interesting, because the UH-1N is the twin-engined variant of the Huey. My understanding of things is that it was created as a specific requirement for Canada and the Canadian climate. I haven’t had a real good chance to go over this iteration (the AeroPlast kits were the ones that arrived this weekend), but I can tell you that one thing I really like about it is that the front cargo door is not molded to the body. That scores all kinds of points right there. The whole kit design is significantly different from the more mainstream offerings. If I can figure out some way to put a UH-1H engine on this, it may be my go-to-kit.
  • Huey UH-1N Desert Storm (AeroPlast): I haven’t even cracked the plastic shrink-wrap on this one yet, but I suspect it’s identical–in all but the decals–to the other UH-1N. I take that back–there may be some difference in the engine exhaust, too, based on the cover pictures. This was actually advertised on the website as a UH-1H, which is why I picked it up. I’m not sure how useful it’s going to be as a second UH-1N.
The funny thing is that I started the Hasegawa UH-1H Huey as a practice for doing the UH-1D as a very accurate model. After further research, the UH-1H is probably the right model for the historical reproduction. And I don’t know what I’m going to do with the UH-1D. More importantly, what am I going to do with two UH-1N’s? That wasn’t part of the plan at all. It looks like I may be more decals from Fireball Modelworks to go along with the twin-engined Hueys. At this point, all I know is that I’ve got more Hueys than I need, and I’m not quite sure what to do with ’em all.

The “New” Build

Actually, it may be a new series of builds, if things keep going the way they’re going… And yes, my new build is my first in what could be at least five 1:72 Huey helicopters. For right now, I’ve just got two planned. This particular one is the 1:72 UH-1H variant, made by Hasegawa. And, based on the amount of flash present on the kit, it must be a pretty old molding of it. My goal is to eventually make a near-perfect replica of a particular Vietnam era Huey "slick", as flown by the 335th Assault Helicopter Company. I haven’t decided if this kit is going to be the replica, or if I’m just going to use this one as a practice run towards doing the specific Huey. Regardless, I want to build this thing close as possible to that specific bird. And in order to do this, the kit is going to need some modifications. First off, did you know that the UH-1H technically had six doors? I never really thought about it, but there it is. There were the two main cockpit doors, the two (smaller) front cargo doors, and then the two (larger) rear cargo doors. Well, the cockpit doors and the front (smaller) cargo doors were molded directly to the body of the helicopter on this kit, as opposed to the very nice 1:72 Italeri UH-1D, where at least you could position the cockpit doors open. Unfortunately, I’m told that–on the helicopter I’m building–both cargo doors were removed on both sides. This meant doing some minor surgery on the kit pieces. All it worked out to was a pin vise and an Xacto knife, but I did manage to put a pretty deep gouge in one side that will need to be taken out later.
Another area that is going to require modification is the seats in the cockpit. In all the pictures I’ve found of Hueys in service in Vietnam, there were armor plates around the pilots’ seats, but they are absent on this kit. So… More modifications. I may end up scratch-building two new seats entirely. Of course, in the back, there’s the matter of scratch-building the bench seats and the gunner positions. In short, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me on this kit. We’ll see how well I do.
One thing it looks like I won’t have to worry about is the decals. I found Fireball Modelworks recently, and not only do they specialize in helicopter decals, but they also have graciously agreed to do a smaller custom sheet to meet my anticipated needs for the specific build. The nose art is going to be done by my good friend, Phil. He’s (just as graciously) agreed to put his ALPS printer to use for just that purpose. And remember: "There are no problems. Only solutions." I think I’ll have to keep telling myself that over the coming months.

A Pile of Plastic

Well, I can’t really say I’m making progress on any particular project right now. At last count, I’ve dabbled in four different builds during the last week. There’s the Junkers 88 bomber that’s been slowly building up. There’s a Maschinen Krieger build that I’ve been messing with. There’s the tiny Focke-Wulf 190–which is on hold till I (hopefully) turn up that wheel that fell on the floor or come up with a good "Plan B". And then there’s my super-cheap 1:72 Academy-brand F4F Wildcat. Right now, the Wildcat is in the lead to get finished first, so I’ll talk about it briefly.
I picked up the Wildcat probably well over a year ago. It was a $5.00 kit, and looked like it might be interesting. I got home, tore off the shrinkwrap, and found that it was interesting. The interesting part is the fundamental lack of cockpit detail. It’s not as bad as the Testors F4U-1 Corsair, but it’s not great. The cockpit consisted of a seat, a flight stick and a very under-detailed pilot. Since this was more of a painting exercise than anything else, the only change I made was cutting a styrene pipe in half to form the top of the instrument panel. That’s it. Beyond that, I’ll just take what the kit gives me and work with it.
And work with it I have. The fuselage is together, the cockpit is mounted, the rear wings are on, and the engine (what there is of it) is in. I need to straighten out the seams on the wings before I mount those. I also need to figure out exactly how to assemble it with the landing gear up. The instructions are short, sweet, and to the point–and don’t exactly make that part clear. The good news is that it comes with its own little display stand–which was the reason I’m planning on doing it with the wheels up. When I’m done, it should make a cute li’l display piece, but it won’t be going in any contest. Regardless, I’ll do the best with what I have and see what comes out of it.

Li’l Focker

No… I didn’t type that wrong. It really is a li’l Focker. Specifically, it’s a 1:144 (ultra-tiny) Focke-Wulf 190F-8 (a German WWII aircraft of considerable distinction). The kit is made by Eduard, which is a Czech company that probably makes some of the finest airplane kits around. Even so, they specialize in larger scale kits. Nothing this tiny. I mean, the whole kit is made of around seventeen pieces–but they’re all very nicely detailed. However, there’s no cockpit detail. I decided that I couldn’t live with that, so I added the top of an instrument console and the top of the pilot’s seat. If nothing else, they set it apart from a "stock" Focke-Wulf 190 in that scale.
So I thought this would be a fun li’l one-night project. Put it together, paint it, and call it "done". Things never ever work out that way. I started it on Tuesday evening, started gluing pieces together, did a little bit of sanding work, added my little cockpit pieces from styrene, and then proceeded to drop one of the wheels on the floor. One of the 1:144 scale wheels. Gray. On the gray floor. Let me phrase that a different way: A wheel that’s one hundred and forty four times smaller than its real-world counterpart and colored to match my floor was dropped… On my floor. And then I spent the next hour or two looking for it. I tried moving my modeling bench–to see if it had rolled underneath one of the support legs–thereby knocking lots of stuff over and frustrating myself to no end. The damn thing never did turn up. In the end, I looked through a half-dozen other kits, found some wheels that were close to that same size, and threw them in the box o’ Focke-Wulf parts.
At that point, it was nearly 11:00 p.m. and I called it a night. At the point your hobby stops being fun, you need to hang it up for the night. No questions. No pondering. No puttering. Go to bed so you can make a better go of it the next day.

Upcoming Build

On the heels of my Doppelganger comes a group build-off with several friends from FichtenFoo Forums. The goal? Take some aircraft kit (or "kits") and make "Propeller Pirates" out of them, a la "Crimson Skies". I’ve been quietly working on accumulating "donor kits" for this project, not really sure where I’m going with it, or when I’m going to start. So far, these three are the most likely candidates for the build:
I sure miss being able to embed photos with the text… Anyways, we have a Poplikarpov I-16 (similar to the other one I built, but from Hasegawa), a Curtiss SOC-3 Seagull, and an Antonov AN-2 "Colt". All in 1:72 scale. Of these three, my favorite is still the I-16, but the Colt is the most likely candidate for the build. Its real world counterpart is a very interesting plane. As I understand things, it began production in 1947 and is still being manufactured in China today. Because it’s a bi-plane, it has a ridiculous amount of lift–to the point where controlled flight can be performed at an air speed of 30 mph. But enough about real-world applications…
For the Doppelganger, I sacrificed an engine and part of a wing from a 1:72 B-25J. My goal is to take the armaments of that same plane and apply them to the Colt. Of course, that’s almost too easy, and no one likes an easy project. So I may have to convert this to a water-landing craft or make some other outrageous modification, in order to make things more interesting (challenging).
At any rate, I’ve got some donor kits available to start this one off.

Don’t Do This.

Take a look at the photograph there to the right. There’s a lesson to be learned here. And that lesson is that you should never take a stress ball, throw it back and forth between your left and right hand, and then miss, completely dislodging the Poplikarpov I-16 from its display stand–leaving a single wheel behind.
Yes, the idiot with the stress ball was me. And yes, my recent Poplikarpov I-16 has now been removed from display while it undergoes repairs. Those repairs being the reult of my being an idiot…
A little super glue goes a long ways. I’ve pretty well got the Poplikarpov taken care of at this point. I need to touch up the paint in a couple spots, and probably hit it with a flat coat one more time, but it’s just about ready to go back on the desk at work. That’s about all the "fresh" updates there will be for a few days, as I have "other commitments" that take priority over this hobby.
I’ve got more to write about than just my foul-ups, but that can wait for a point where I actually have time to sit down and write.

From Safonov To Krychevsky

Well, I hit a little snag with the Poplikarov I-16 project. Namely, I wrecked the Safonov marking decals (long story). Fortunately, the decal sheet carries the markings for no less than nine different I-16’s. In the end, I opted for the markings of Lt. Krychevsky’s I-16 Type 24, as flown over the Leningrad Front during 1943.
Now… The problem is that I can’t find one lick-spittle of information on this pilot. There’s one reference to him in a corrupted file on a Russian message board. Outside of that, nothing. I even managed to find a list of Soviet World War II aces on Wikipedia (here), and he’s not on the list–which is interesting as he has five kill-marks on the side of his plane.
So… I have no idea what to do. I actually emailed the model manufacturer to see if they know anything. I’ll be thrilled if I get a reply, actually, as they’re a Russian company. I’m hoping that enough emails come in–and in English–that they have someone around there who can translate and pass along the information. Most likely, the name ("Krychevsky") is mis-spelled. Hopefully, they can point me in the direction of the correct spelling and/or some information on the pilot. Regardless, I think I’m going to call this one "done". Too bad I can’t figure out who flew this particular bird.
Now… What’s next?