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OH-6A Loach Kit

AMP 1/48 OH-6A Loach Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2009 Manufacturer AMP
Subject OH-6A Loach Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48001 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-etch
Pros Superbly detailed kit of the Loach Cons None noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $30.00

First Look

OH-6A Loach Kit
OH-6A Loach Kit
OH-6A Loach Kit
OH-6A Loach Kit
OH-6A Loach Kit
OH-6A Loach Kit

Hughes developed the Model 369 in response to an Army requirement for a Light Observation Helicopter. The Hughes design won out against entries from Bell and Fairchild-Hiller. First flown in 1963, this turbine powered machine would go on to set numerous world records and find a huge market with the Model 500 series that remains in production today.

In US Army service, the aircraft became the OH-6A Cayuse and filled an operational gap when the Army was directed to transfer its fixed-wing assets to the USAF. The L-19 Bird Dog had been the Army's forward air control platform in Vietnam and the OH-6 quickly and effectively filled that role after the L-19s were transferred.

In service, the OH-6 was nicknamed the 'Loach' and were used to draw enemy fire in its hunter-killer role as the hunter, and as the enemy would yield to temptation and reveal their positions in the jungles through tracer fire, the killers (usually the AH-1 Cobra or UH-1 Huey gunship) would strike. These Army scouts carried on the Army tradition with distinction despite heavy losses.

After Vietnam, the existence of the OH-6 was quickly relegated to museums and Guard units, but that was not the end of the Loach's story. Task Force 160, which would later become the 160th SOAR, adapted the OH-6 to fulfill special operations missions. The types evolved into the AH-6 gunship and MH-6 special ops 'Little Birds' which remain in service today.

Where did this beauty come from? I was pleasantly surprised to see this kit arrive in our in-box. The kit is produced by a new Ukrainian company that had previously released two submarine kits. If this is an example of what is to come in their aircraft offerings, watch out!

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on three parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts and a single fret of Eduard color photo-etch.

This isn't the first Loach kit in 1/48, I believe the Tamiya kit has that distinction, but from what I can see here, this is the very first OH-6A Vietnam scout accurately represented in any scale out of the box.

The interior is not laid out like a civilian Model 500 and adapted to an OH-6 as other offerings have done in the past. The cockpit floor and rear bulkhead have the reinforced structure molded into the surfaces.

The crew seats are armored and the seat belts and shoulder harnesses are provided as color photo-etch. The instrument cluster is shaped right and the panel is smooth - to allow for the installation of the multi-layered color photo-etch instrument panel that only Eduard can do so well.

The kit has the main windscreen, two skylights, and the starboard doors provided as clear parts. No portside doors are included as this kit is designed specifically as an armed scout. The M134 minigun is provided along with its ammunition storage can. The M134 fires the 7.62mm round - think of this as an AK-47 firing at 4,000 rounds per minute.

While the kit styrene provides lots of details, the Eduard photo-etch really takes this kit to the next level inside and out.

Markings are provided for one example and what better example than Hugh Mills' "Miss Clawd IV". If you've read Mill's book "Low Level Hell" which is a great read and provides great insight into the life and dangers of Army scouts, you wouldn't want to build any other Loach either.

If this kit builds as nice as it looks, AMP is going to have a big hit on their hands. I hope they'll tackle some of the other variants of the Loach, especially the Little Birds! This kit is available from HobbyTerra.

My sincere thanks to HobbyTerra for this review sample!