Revell 1/48 CH-53G/GS Kit First Look
|Date of Review||November 2006||Manufacturer||Revell/Germany|
|Kit Number||4446||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Only option for the twin-engine CH-53||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Sikorsky H-53 was designed as a heavy assault transport helicopter that entered service with the US Navy as the CH-53A, the USAF as the CH-53B/C, and the USMC as the CH-53D. The US Navy adopted their Sea Stallion to serve as a mine sweeper, towing a hydrofoil sled through the water to search for and clear mines left to disrupt maritime traffic. This first version was the RH-53D.
The German Army became the largest export user of the CH-53 series with license production of the type resulting in 112 airframes. The CH-53G production standard was virtually identical to the USMC CH-53D.
The CH-53GS was the result of a life-extension and modernization program which took the aging CH-53G and updated its avionics and key systems. While not all of the CH-53Gs were updated to the GS standard, the remaining in-service G-models will also be overhauled to extend their service lives without the addition of new systems.
With all of the positive response to Academy's beautiful 1/48 CH-53E Super Sea Stallion kit, I thought it might be useful to take a look at the other kid on the block - Revell's 1/48 twin-engine CH-53. This kit in particular contains the parts to render the CH-53G and updated CH-53GS aircraft, but as I mentioned above, the CH-53G is virtually identical to the CH-53D. This means that you don't have that much work to do to backdate the kit to an earlier version or even one of the later twin-engine variants like the Pave Low. While this kit is currently out of production at the moment, they are still available at kit swaps and even eBay, and Revell tends to reissue this kit once in a while anyway.
Molded in dark green styrene, this kit is presented on five parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. One of these trees is extra in this release to cover the GS differences, so if you find the earlier Revell 1/48 HH-53C kit (#4542), CH-53G 'Heersflieger' (#4576) or UN CH-53 (#4498), the parts should be common to what you see here except for tree above the windows in the photos to the right.
So if you're wanting to build the twin-engine CH-53 instead of the new tri-motor, what are your options? There are a number of aftermarket detail sets to help you along. Cobra Company has a Pave Low conversion and has more recently released an MH-53J/M Pave Low interior detail set for this kit.
Even with the resin detail sets, the cargo compartment is still rather barren compared to the new Academy kit. Well if you really want to know, it looks like the Academy interior will fit inside the Revell airframe. I test-fit one of the cargo compartment sidewalls inside the Revell kit and it fits nicely. There is a slight alignment difference on the windows, but a little modeling skill will fix that.
The main cabin and cargo deck is dimensionally identical between the Revell and Academy kits, so they should be interchangeable. This means that the cargo compartment roof should adapt to the Revell airframe as well, but be prepared for a little adjusting. This means that you'll have the opportunity to leave the rear cargo ramp and door open to show off the inside of your Pave Low or rescue HH-53C.
Don't misunderstand me, there are going to be some detail differences between the CH-53E interior and whatever variant of the twin-engine CH/HH/MH-53 you choose to build, but the Academy kit can be used to update and fill in many details absent in the Revell kit! Also take note of the external differences between the USAF and USMC/USN variants. One of the more notable differences is the way that the external fuel tanks are hung. Check your references for these differences. When you get into the Pave Low series, you'll have lots of other subtle differences to watch out for as well, but you'll definitely have show-stopper!
Markings are provided for three aircraft:
- CH-53GS, 84+67, HFR 32, May 2002
- CH-53G, 85+03, HFR 35, April 2002
- CH-53G, 84+57, HFR 35, April 2002
This kit is still the only option for the twin-engine H-53 and while it is older tooling than the Academy kit, it still looks good. If you're really an AMS modeler, you can bash the Academy kit with the Revell to render a very nice model indeed. While this kit is currently out of production, they are still relatively easy to find should you want one for your next project.
For Further Information:
- H-53 Sea Stallion in Action, CM Reed, Aircraft Number 174, 2000, Squadron/Signal Publications