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HH-3E Jolly Green Giant

Atlantis Model Company 1/72 HH-3E Jolly Green Giant Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2020 Manufacturer Atlantis Model Company
Subject HH-3E Jolly Green Giant Scale 1/72
Kit Number A505 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Welcome return of a classic subject Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $19.95

First Look

HH-3E Jolly Green Giant
HH-3E Jolly Green Giant
HH-3E Jolly Green Giant

During the late 1950s, Sikorsky developed the S-61 in response to a U.S. Navy requirement for an anti-submarine helicopter that could land on water and operate from ships at sea. Powered by twin GE T58 engines, the resulting design became the SH-3 Sea King and would replace another Sikorsky design, the H-34 series. About the same time, the Marines were looking for a combat transport version with a rear ramp and door that could load and unload troops quickly. While Sikorsky started working through an adaptation of the Sea King airframe to develop the S-61R, they ran into problems with power as they needed more to meet the higher weight of the loaded transport, and while the engines were up to the task, the transmission was not. The Marines adopted the Vertol CH-46 Seaknight instead, but the U.S. Air Force saw the potential of the S-61R in the airlift and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) roles. The S-61R was adopted as the CH-3C Jolly Green Giant. The HH-3E would follow which incorporated an updated transmission that could handle the power from the T58 engines and was also equipped with a boom for air refueling, hardpoints for external fuel tanks, self-sealing fuel tanks, and a rescue hoist. The CH-3Cs were updated to the HH-3E configuration as well.

The HH-3E was the first helicopter to make a transatlantic flight as two aircraft departed New York and flew across the Atlantic using nine aerial refuelings to arrive at the Paris Airshow in 1967. The HH-3s made the flight in roughly three hours less than Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight. Over Vietnam, the HH-3E was the primary rescue helicopter for downed pilots, and with its range, could go deep into hostile airspace when needed. In the early years of HH-3E rescue flights, it was normal for one or more A-1 Skyraiders (Sandys) to escort the helicopters and provide close air support. As the war went on, the A-1 was replaced by the A-7 Corsair II (SLUF). The HH-3E was phased out of service in the 1990s in favor of another Sikorsky design, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. Even so, the design of the S-61R/HH-3E was very practical and was super-sized by Sikorsky to produce the CH-53 Sea Stallion, MH-53 Sea Dragon, and MH-53 Pave Low series.

During the same year that saw the HH-3E cross the Atlantic, Aurora produced one of the first kits of the HH-3E (S-61R), with similar offerings from Revel and Starfix rounding out the options. Rendered in 1/72 scale, the kit offered some nice details for its day while doing something different - no rivets or panel lines (save the engine access doors). Some criticized the lack of external surface details, but today, the kit provides a nice canvas to add your own rivets using one of the multitude of rivet techniques out there, or keeping them off since they're not visible at the equivalent viewing distance for this scale.

The kit is molded in green styrene and presented four parts trees plus on tree of clear parts. The forward sliding door and rear ramp/door are both molded closed with no interior detail provided in the main cabin, but the kit does offer a flight deck with two crewmen that are visible through the greenhouse nose. The kit does provide a small set of decals with simple stenciling as there were few aircraft with distinctive markings. While the kit's instructions provide paint diagrams for the Southeast Asia camouflage applied to this aircraft, you can also find photos online of this aircraft in Europe One camouflage carried during its later years of service.

It is nice to see this kit back on the market as it is really the only option currently available for this famous CSAR aircraft.