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UH-1B

Revell 1/24 Bell Huey Gunship Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2011 Manufacturer Revell
Subject Bell Huey Gunship Scale 1/24
Kit Number 5633 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Kit has lots of AMS potential Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $39.95

 

 

First Look

UH-1B
UH-1B
UH-1B
UH-1B
UH-1B
UH-1B
UH-1B

When Bell developed the first production turbine-powered helicopter, the US Army initially designated the aircraft as HU-1 (hence the name Huey). The aircraft was quickly given its baptism of fire in operations in Vietnam, but it was a huge success in proving out the air mobility concept as well as heliborne close air support, medivac, and search and rescue (SAR) missions.

The UH-1B was the first version of the Bell Model 205 airframe which was stretched from the Model 204 that served in the Army as the HU-1A, HU-1B/UH-1B and UH-1C. This was one of the major workhorses of Army Aviation in Vietnam, working principally as a troop transport and Medevac, but also serving as command ship, fire suppression, etc.

Early in the Vietnam war, transport (slick) Hueys were coming under fire in the landing zones and an armed escort was needed. Some UH-1Bs were armed in the field for this role while the Army developed a more complete fire support package to fit on the UH-1B. These armed Hueys were nicknamed Hog or Frog, but their success in suppressing hostile fire led to the Model 209 which became a dedicated gunship - the AH-1 Cobra.

Here is a classic kit that has been reissued a few times, but not in its original configuration. You see, this is the famous Visible Huey kit though the fuselage is not molded in clear. This was a companion kit to the Phantom Mustang kit that is another popular classic, but this kit had some terrific detailing for its day and it is a shame Revell hasn't reissued this in its clear version.

This kit represents the US Army UH-1B Huey in its gunship configuration (though you can make this a slick if you'd like). The kit is molded in olive green styrene, this kit is presented on three parts trees plus one tree molded in silver styrene, one tree of chromed parts, and one tree of clear parts.

The first thing you'll notice is just how smooth and shiny the fuselage halves are - these were originally clear in the Visible Huey and they're still in great shape should Revell ever reissue this kit in its transparent form.

The kit provides some nice details:

  • Armored pilot/copilot seats
  • Structural details for cabin ceiling and top of nose
  • Equipped avionics bay in nose
  • Detailed rotor head
  • Detailed transmission/swash plate
  • Detailed engine and engine compartment
  • 4 x M60 machine guns on flex mount
  • 2 x rocket pods
  • Flexible (vinyl) ammo chutes from main cabin ammo cans to guns
  • Sliding main cabin doors
  • Two optional pilot figures

To make use of these details, there will be some work involved. As I mentioned above, all of this detail was designed for the Visible Huey, so the engine access doors don't open because you were supposed to see that detail through the clear fuselage. With some careful surgery, you can remove and reinstall the doors open to reveal the engine and transmission.

Now for some odd reason, someone actually chromed one of the trees in this kit. As a result, the engine and transmission are now chrome and you'll likely want to remove that chrome. What's more, the main rotor head is also on that tree and now it too is chrome and you'll definitely want the chrome off of that.

While the rib details in the cabin roof and in the nose look cool through the clear fuselage, they don't offer anything in this case as the ceiling of the main cabin has the same quilted sound suppression blankets on the roof as on the rear cabin bulkhead. It will be easy enough to fabricate a proper roof with the intercom boxes, first aid kits, lighting, etc., for the cabin ceiling.

While the main cabin doors slide, the pilot and copilot doors are molded closed. You may want to do some careful surgery on one or both doors to get them open. While you're at it, you might consider opening the nose access door to view the avionics bay too.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • UH-1B, 14040, 1st Air Cav Div, Vietnam, 1966, 'Have Gun Will Travel'
  • UH-1B, 10824, 114 Assault Helicopter Company, Vietnam, 1966

These decals are nicely done and even provide patches for the two pilot figures.

Some folks might be put off by a 1/24 scale helicopter, but this kit has a number of advantages:

  • First, it is larger to make it worthwhile to superdetail
  • Second, there a number of 1/24 scale Jeeps as well as car/truck kits and figures to pose with this helicopter to make a diorama or vignette easy
  • Third, there are lots of online photo references to help you through a super-detail project if you want to go that direction, or simply enjoy a nice big Hog for your shelf
  • Fourth, look again at the price - when was the last time you saw a large aircraft project for this price?

My sincere thanks to Revell for this review sample!

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