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CH-47A Kit

Trumpeter 1/35 CH-47A Chinook Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2006 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject CH-47A Chinook Scale 1/35
Kit Number 5104 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch, White Metal
Pros Excellent detailing inside and out. Very nice use of photo-etch for engine intake filters and grilles Cons Decals
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $149.95

First Look

CH-47A Kit
CH-47A Kit
CH-47A Kit
CH-47A Kit
CH-47A Kit
CH-47A Kit
CH-47A Kit
CH-47A Kit
CH-47A Kit
CH-47A Kit
CH-47A Kit

In June 1959, the Army issued a specification for a new Battlefield Mobility Helicopter which could carry 40 fully equipped troops or two tons of cargo internally or up to eight tons of cargo via external sling. In addition, the aircraft would have to be able to transport any component of the Pershing missile system.

While a number of designs were submitted, the Model 114 from Boeing/Vertol was selected. This aircraft bore more than a slight resemblance to the Model 107 that was being operated by the US Navy as the CH-46, but the Model 114/CH-47A was a significantly more powerful aircraft. Where the CH-46S was initially powered by a pair of 1,400 shp engines, the CH-47A started off with a pair of 2,650 shp engines.

The Model 114 made its first flight in September 1961 and entered service soon afterwards. Fairing pods on each side of the aircraft housed the non-retractable quadricycle landing gear and large portions of these pods were sealed to provide buoyancy to the aircraft while it operated from water.

I remember a marketing trip that Boeing/Vertol took to South America many years ago and the crew landed their Chinook in Lake Titicaca. What's so impressive about that? Any helicopter operating from water must be able to lift itself back out of the water as well as the weight of any water that naturally enters the aircraft. This is challenging enough at sea level, but Lake Titicaca is located high in the Andes mountains at over 12,500 feet, well above the safe hover altitude for most helicopters. The Chinook took the challenge in stride, attesting to the brute power of the aircraft.

The Chinook didn't have long to wait before its baptism of fire, the CH-47A went to war in Vietnam, proving its worth many times over.

Here is another much-anticipated release from Trumpeter - the CH-47A Chinook in 1/35 scale. As you'd imagine, the kit is rather large given that it is released in the popular scale of armor modelers.

Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on eight parts trees, plus two additional trees of clear parts. In addition, the two forward and two rear fuselage halves are packaged separately in a very impressive manner to ensure their survival through shipping. A small box inside the main kit box contains the clear nose dome part, rubber tires, and white metal landing gear struts. One package of photo-etched parts is stored with the fuselage halves. Excellent packaging job Trumpeter!

Trumpeter has also done a nice job with the parts breakdown so as to be able to render the CH-47D with a minimum of new parts required.

As I pulled each part tree out of the box for imaging, I noticed that tree J, containing the rotor blades, was slightly warped. I don't know if this is intentional or a fortunate coincidence as the 'warpage' renders near-perfect droop to the blades! I'm going to assume this is intentional and once again render congratulations!

Assembly begins with the cockpit and this is a nicely detailed affair. While I wouldn't be surprised to see a new detail set from Cobra Company for this beauty, you'll have a nice model from what is in the box! The instrument panel is molded in clear and an acetate sheet is provided with instrument faces to be mounted behind the panel. You have but to mask the instrument faces on the panel and paint the panel accordingly. I'm not sure how well the acetate instrument faces will be visible through the thickness of the panel, so I'd consider using a Waldron punch to remove the instrument faces from the acetate sheet and mount them to the front of the panel.

The center console is nicely detailed and will look great with some dry-brushing to make that detail stand out. The crew seats are also nicely done and these are complimented with photo-etched seatbelts and harnesses.

As with the CH-46, the Chinook has a pair of bulkheads that separate the cockpit from the cargo compartment. In between these bulkheads are racks for aircraft avionics and supplies. This is rendered nicely in the kit and would be enhanced with a little cabling if such detailing would be visible from outside the model.

The cargo compartment has detailing molded on the insides for the fuselage halves, and separate cargo floor and ceiling are provided to 'box in' the compartment.

For a change, the engines in this kit are not over-engineered with lots of details. What Trumpeter has done is provided just what is needed to render the powerplants with the engine nacelle covers closed. Don't worry, you'll still see engine as all of the vents and grilles are rendered in photo-etch.

The crew entry door can be positioned open or closed. The rear cargo ramp can also be positioned open or closed

There is a nice array of antenna posts mounted on the port side of the aircraft, which will require significant care in handling considering how early these are installed. I will probably wait until the very end to add these posts. What is interesting is that Trumpeter didn't provide any instructions for routing the HF antenna wire through these posts, so you'll have to hit the internet or your references to see how to properly route your antenna.

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • CH-47A, 410108, US Army Systems Command, 1966
  • CH-47A, 57887, 228 ASHB, 1st Cav Div, Lai Khe, Vietnam, 1970


I received the following email which quite nicely explains a few features of the full-scale Chinook from someone who used to keep them ready to fly:

Mr. Benolkin;

Very nicely done review on the CH-47A in today's issue of Cybermodeler. There are some very fairly informative discussions on the FSM helicopter forum that has been going on between myself and several others who have spent long hours working on and flying in these aircraft.

The kit IS very nicely designed and to most few, if any of the shortcomings will be noticed.

The warpage you speak of is found on ALL helicopter rotor blades regardless of type because they serve as the means of propulsion as well as lift. Just think of the twist in a propeller blade and you will understand.

If built according to the instructions, a modeler may be a bit confused when it comes to the ramp and hatch at the rear. On CH-46s the hatch retracted in and up into the aft cabin area, on CH-47s a different approach was used. The hatch actually retracts into the ramp when the ramp is lowered. In the instructions it seems to imply that the hatch should be glued to the fuselage while the ramp is positioned in the lowered position. If the ramp is to be depicted in the lowered position, then the hatch should be shown retracted into the ramp. (I know it sounds confusing and it easier to understand if you could see the process in action)

The standoffs for the HF antenna are a tad too long, cutting them so they are about as half as long would be more accurate. The big disappointment for me was the lack of detail on the interior of the aft pylon. On CH-46 models a person could get away with no detail because the hatch when retracted inwards blocks the aft transmission, generators, flight boost and utility pumps and associated wiring and plumbing from view, when the ramp is lowered on a CH-47 all of those components are visible. There are other problems with this kit, but happily the areas they got right were the rotor systems to include the rainshield, the pitch change links (even if they do give the wrong color to paint them) both swashplates (rotating and stationary) and the drive links. Hell, they even have the lugs for the swiveling and pivoting actuators on the stationary swashplate! It is almost as if they had multiple people researching different parts of the aircraft.

Yes it is a good kit, and yes I will get at least one more and I plan on getting two of the CH-47Ds when they are released.

Again, an very good appraisal of a good kit, I just wanted to give you a perspective from some old fart who spent a bunch of time working on and crewing these magnificent aircraft.

Jonathan Primm Youngsville, LA

Thank you Jonathan!

This is an impressive kit straight out of the box and will lend itself to some interesting displays and dioramas at the next round of IPMS contests.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!