DML 1/35 AH-6J Little Bird 'Night Stalkers' Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||October 2014||Manufacturer||DML|
|Subject||AH-6J Little Bird 'Night Stalkers'||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||3527||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Only kit of this subject to date||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The OH-6 Cayuse was developed by Hughes Helicopters in response to a US Army requirement for a turbine-powered scout helicopter. The 'flying egg' would become tip of the spear for Army Aviation in Vietnam as the OH-6 crews would sniff out enemy positions (usually at great peril) while lurking AH-1 Cobras would rush in to counter any enemy fire. While the OH-6 faded into the background as the OH-58 came into service, the flying egg would be reborn into the world of covert operations.
After the failed attempt to rescue the US embassy staff in Tehran, a new special operations aviation unit was established to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world they were needed. The 160th Special Operationns Aviation Regiment (SOAR) was born. One of the stars of that new unit was the OH-6 as it could be quickly packed onto a pallet and several could be airlifted to a forward operating location.
Since the OH-6A had already been armed with a minigun, rocket pods and other systems, creating the AH-6 Little Bird was relatively easy. The MH-6 Little Bird was given plank seating on either side of the aircraft to allow up to four fully equipped troops to be airlifted in stealth. As newer capabilities were introduced into the Hughes-turned-McDonnell Douglas Helicopters Model 500 series, these would likewise be adopted into the Little Birds as well. The AH/MH-6J airframes, for example, were actually MD530 airframes with the OH-6A bubble cockpits retained, but the new five-bladed main rotor and T-tail replaced the earlier V-tail and four-bladed rotor of the earlier Cayuses.
DML originally released the OH-6A kit which was a major improvement over the venerable Revell 1/32 OH-6A kit and this kit has been reissued a few times since. They followed that release up with this kit, the AH-6J Little Bird which introduces the MD530 airframe elements onto the basic OH-6 airframe. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus one tree of clear parts.
Among the features and options in this release:
- Updated five-bladed main rotor
- Early 'analog' MH-6J cockpit
- 2 x Miniguns with main cabin ammo container and feed belts
- 2 x M260 seven-shot rocket pods
- Unique antenna fit for the Little Bird
The decals in the kit are basic but the good news is that Werners Wings has produced a special set for the AH-6 series.
This kit remains the finest AH-6 kit in any scale (though I also have my 21st Century Toys 1/6 Little Bird sitting here in my office). It would be nice to see DML do some further updates to this kit to bring it up to the AH/MH-6M configuration currently being flown which includes a wider chord tail, new tail rotor, and a six-bladed main rotor. If you don't wish to wait for such an update, Black Ops Models produces a comprehensive resin conversion to bring the DML kit up-to-date. By some coincidence, Werners Wings has a decal set covering this version as well.