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H-25 Army Mule

Atlantis Model Company 1/48 H-25 Army Mule Kit First Look

By Mark Nickelson

Date of Review June 2019 Manufacturer Atlantis Model Company
Subject H-25 Army Mule Scale 1/48
Kit Number A502 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Good decals, and having this subject available again after 50 years Cons No clear parts for side windows
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $19.95

First Look

H-25 Army Mule
H-25 Army Mule

I was as antsy as a nine-year-old in mid-December, waiting for this kit to come out. It appeals not just to my hankering for more coverage of historical rotorheads, but also to this impulse to revisit the modelmaking scene of my childhood, back when Aurora helicopters were readily available.

So thank you, Atlantis, and congrats to Pete and Rick for tapping into the very sensitive nostalgia nerve in the plastic modeling culture.

Here’s what we get: 17 parts, one of them clear, the rest molded in OD. You’re on your own for glazing the side windows, but the window frames are deep. I expect to shoulder the openings with strip stock and install the glazing from outboard.

The nose dome is lacking its simple frame. Solution: install it before final paint and mask to create the frame. See online photos.

There are two yokes, an instrument panel, no collectives, no crew figures, no deckplate, no pedals. The seats are molded into the fuselage halves.  The wheels are crude. But this is a nostalgia trip, remember. This is how things were done, back at the actual dawn of plastic modeling. Most of what you could use but don’t get can be had cheaply by cannibalizing a Monogram Huey, itself a period piece.

The rotors are just inserted in their holes in the fuselage halves, with no retainers. See this feature in a positive light:  you can remove the rotors for shipping or storage. Rotor diameter scales out to near perfect 1/48. On both rotors, the blades are turned the same way, i.e., not contra-rotating. When I look at the finished model, I aim to pretend not to notice. Nor will I agonize over the simplicity of the rotorheads, absence of counterbalances, etc.

There’s a little scoop on the port fuselage half where the engine exhaust pipe should come out, a place where a modeler will certainly make up for Aurora’s under-representation of the shape.

Early examples of this helicopter came with an empennage that was never part of the kit. Old photos do show, however, a little platform on each side of the fin that looks like it’s there for maintenance, a simple addition with strip stock and wire.

The molding is clean and crisp. There are some rivets, but they’ve been honed down considerably from the old Aurora pieplates.

Atlantis’s decals may be this kit’s best feature. You can build an all-yellow Marine Retriever from MCAS El Toro, a USS Enterprise plane guard in dark gray and red, or one of two Army Mules in OD, with vivid mule art on the tail fin. One is the specimen in the Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Ala.

Online references will show you that an HUP-2 can also be gull gray, white over gray, or sea blue.

The box art harks back to this kit’s Aurora origin. It shows an H-25 snatching a litter patient out of a hot LZ. The Army Mule never saw action with our ground forces in Korea, and the Army didn’t keep their Mules long enough to give them an Indian name.

The Navy readily accepted all the Army Mules and designated them HUP-3. The HUP-2, the standard Navy variant, served mainly as a plane guard from 1951until 1965. A few were modified for ASW work. Canada and France bought small numbers of the total 339 Mules ever built. So although Aurora promoted this kit as the Army Mule, its history is as a Navy Retriever. During very busy stages of the Cold War, HUP-2s rescued uncounted airedales and were always seen in the coverage of carrier ops.


  • Notice: The appearance of U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Defense, or NASA imagery or art does not constitute an endorsement nor is Cybermodeler Online affiliated with these organizations.