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H-19

Revell 1/48 H-19 Chickasaw Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review April 2009 Manufacturer Revell
Subject H-19 Chickasaw Scale 1/48
Kit Number H173 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Only current version of this kit in a (near) popular scale; options for either wheels or float landing gear; nice basic engine parts and options Cons 53-year-old kit shows its age
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

When I was seven I went down to Florida in 1956 to spend two weeks with my other set of grandparents in Miami Beach. While there – and since my 8th birthday was only three weeks off – my grandfather took me into a model shop and turned me loose. One of the kits I picked was that of a brand-new Revell kit of an H-19 rescue helicopter, which was given the super box art of the day and really attractive to me. I built it but then my father had to break it apart to take it home so I never did get it fully repaired. But I always remembered it fondly for all of the neat things it had.

This kit – a 1974 verbatim re-release of the original kit H-227 in the “S” series from 1956 – is one of the more long-lived ones from Revell but one currently out of the inventory. Made in both silver and olive drab versions - with at least one in sea blue as an H3SO-1 and one in orange for Antarctic service – went in and out of their catalogue for more than 20 years.

The kit is one of two near 1/48 scale kits of the S-55 airframe released in the 1950s, the other being from Aurora (also as both an H-19 and an H3SO-1). Since then it has been ill-served with a 1/100 scale kit from Starfix (a pantograph of this kit) and few others. This is a shame, for it was the first “heavy” (relatively speaking) helicopter to enter US service in the early 1950s and served with the 3rd Aerial Rescue Squadron detachments in Korea; in point of fact the kit seems to be based on the famous photo of the rescue of Joe McConnell on 12 April 1953 by a 3rd ARS H-19. Two were lost in Korea and one other was damaged by enemy AAA.

T/he kit’s good points include the fact it offers both the original wheeled landing gear and the later float gear for water operations. It comes with a cockpit interior (rare for its completeness in the 1950s!) and an engine with optional position access hatches. Markings are provided for one aircraft, 51-3893, which may have been one of the 3rd ARS aircraft (51-3853 and 51-3858 are confirmed serial numbers). The kit also includes figures of both pilots, a ground mechanic, and a pilot who is apparently based on McConnell.

The scale is apparently supposed to be 1/48, and the length is correct (42 feet 2 inches) but the rotor span is 2.5% underscale (52 feet even vice 53 feet). Still it is close enough to put with a 1/48 collection without noticeable error.

But this is a “child” of the 1950s, and as such is not what one could term a first-rank kit today. The moldings are thick with rivets (at least smaller than many others of the day) and very thick clear parts for the cockpit; also, there are no windows for the cargo bay. The interior is complete down to pilots’ sticks but the floor is riddled with ejector pin marks, the control panel has about a dozen very oversized gauges, and the noise abatement and insulation quilting comes out as diamond pattern raised hatching.

All of the hatches and sliding windows are fixed in place, so it would take a lot of work both vacuforming new parts and cutting out the old ones from the thick parts. The optional position nose hatches are quite thick and need a lot of TLC to look the part, but the engine appears to be sound enough to look right with a bit of added plumbing and wiring. Many of the parts are thick, however, and a more industrious builder may want to replace them with more to scale parts. (Remember this was 1956; rotors turn, wheels roll, etc.) Happily it does not have the “stick here” decal locations molded into the sides of the fuselage, which was all to common at the time.

This kit is better than its competing Aurora version as, while that one had sliding pilot’s windows and cargo hatch, it was blessed with oversize tracks for them to run in.

Overall, while this kit is basically a nostalgia trip or shelf–sitter, it has the basics for making a really good model if the modeler is willing to take the time and effort.

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