March 2023

Sikorsky SH-60B Sea Hawk Sikorsky UH-60A Black Hawk

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Sikorsky S-70 UH-60A Black Hawk

10th Aviation Regiment US Army, Helmand Province, Afghanistan 2007.

Revell (Italeri) 1/72

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The first member of the ubiquitous Sikorsky S-70 family, the UH-60A Black Hawk entered US Army service in 1979 as a replacement for the Bell UH-1 Iroquois (“Huey”) utility helicopter.  Named after a famous native American leader, it drew in experience from Vietnam with a twin engine, significantly better “hot and high” performance, reliability and battle survivability.  

The S-70 series are powered by twin General Electric T700 series turbines, introduced to be a standard baseline powerplant across the US rotary wing fleet.  In its baseline configuration, the aircraft can carry 11 troops, plus up to 4 crew.  When fitted with extended pylons, it can carry large auxiliary fuel tanks, or be armed with missiles and rockets.  An underslung external load of up to 3.5 Tonnes can be lifted, and the low-slung fuselage is sized to allow carriage in a C-130 with minimal preparation.

Although the design celebrated its 40th year in 2019, it has seen a renaissance of late, with a number of existing S-70 operators replacing their aircraft  with updated new builds, as well as several disenchanted HN-90 operators.  An S-70  production line has also been established in Poland by Sikorsky  subsidiary PZL Mielec, producing aircraft for international customers.

Building the Revell Black Hawk Kit:

This is my second Black Hawk build, the first having been a Hasegawa HH-60D. That was a nice model, with delicate engraved panel lines, even if it represented a variant that never existed.  

This Revell kit, which was originally an Italeri mould, has lightly raised panel lines, but seems to be a better kit overall, with more detail and many more parts. I also have a Fujimi one to build (also, bizarrely, the non-existent HH-60D), which seems a little simpler in detail, very similar to but not quite as nice as Hasegawa's.

This kit is not quite such a well engineered fit as Hasegawa or Fujimi, but nothing that can't be addressed. The clear parts, unfortunately, are a weak point. There are no lips to ensure a good fit, and I found that the cockpit door windows were slightly smaller than the gap into which they are supposed to fit, making it quite difficult to keep them in place whilst the glue set.  Conversely, the lower footwell windows are not quite the right shape and a little too large; I got them into place, but will need to sand down their upper edges to make them flush before painting. In a similar vein, the port cockpit door can be posed open; like a number of other Italeri "open cockpits", this results in them not fitting well if you want them closed and mine ended up with a tiny gap along the top edge that had to be filled with Krystal Kleer.

As with most UH-60 kits, the main undercarriage shock absorber is fitted into the cockpit before the cockpit halves are joined.  The remaining undercarriage parts are well formed and build into a good replica, but they are quite fiddly to assemble and it is difficult to determine exactly where the stub wing part should be fitted. The stub weapons pylons for the unarmed version need to be trimmed down from the full scale pylon and the resulting gap filled.  The kit comes with IR shrouds for the engine exhausts, but these are very crude with a very vague positioning drawing on the instructions and I had significant difficulty working out how they should fit.  I never did get the starboard one to fit in the same way as the port and needed a little sanding down to get a half reasonable result.

The kit includes two decal options (both Iraq, one sand and one olive green) and two arming options, (rockets/missiles or cabin machine guns).  I chose the green option without missiles, which claims to be the 10th Mountain Aviation Regiment in Iraq in 2008.  I managed to find some pictures of the aircraft in Afghanistan the year before, at which point it had the anti-missile detectors fitted on the nose and the tail, so these were scratched up from thin sprue.  The instructions suggest Revell 68 (dark green) for the overall colour, but most of those that I have seen are much more brown in colour than this, so I went for Revell 46 (NATO Olive) instead, although even then this seems to green to me.  It doesn't say in the instructions, but I believe the rocket option should come with a different interior (big electronic boxes in the forward position and less troop seats) and the windows need to be closed (it would certainly give you a shock if a Hellfire went off that close to you).  For the other option, I also believe that the front row of troop seats should only be 3 wide (for a total of 11 troops, which is correct) to allow access to the gunners' seats (Hasegawa got this partially right, but also made the 2nd row 3 wide).  A different squared off stabilator is present on the sprue, which is not needed as it is for an SH-60 naval variant (but might be useful for a Special Ops/CSAR variant!).

Unlike my very robust Hasegawa kit, the rotor attachments on this Italeri/Revell one are very fragile and one collapsed as soon as I placed it on the kit (24hr+ after attachment), with another immediately showing some weakness.  The rotor head detail is reasonably well done, although the vertical links are quite difficult to get into place and if it falls apart before the kit is even complete, it is not likely to win any new enthusiasts to helicopter building!  

The kit was finished with a coat of Klear to allow the decals to bed in without silvering, then 2 coats of Windsor & Newton matt acrylic varnish to finish.  Final assembly saw the wheels added and the rotor head permanently fixed up top, revealing two more niggles:  the kit sits too high on its undercarriage, almost as if it is in flight.  The rotor head also seems to be too high compared with the Hasegawa kit (possibly the gearbox part is too long).  Both of these issues detracted from my overall impression of this kit, which is still positive, but although its detail is finer and better it does highlight the superior mould design and engineering of the Hasegawa kit in particular.

Link to many more helicopter kit builds on my Helos pages

Part 1

Link to March 2023 Part 1 (SH-60B Seahawk) >>

March 2023 - Part 1