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FEResin 1/144 H-21 'Flying Banana' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2007 Manufacturer FEResin
Subject H-21 Shawnee/Workhorse Scale 1/144
Kit Number 144061 Primary Media Resin, Vac
Pros Excellent casting and details! Cons Brittle landing gear
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $11.60

First Look


Piasecki Helicopter Corporation was the pioneering group who developed the first series of tandem rotor helicopters. These first aircraft were by definition spacious inside the airframe compared to other helicopters simply because of the spacing needed between the two rotor masts. Piasecki took a common sense approach to the rotor design - the twin masts rotated in opposite directions to cancel out rotor torque, no lift energy was lost since both rotors were used for lift (single rotor helicopters use some energy to the anti-torque tail rotor), and the signature configration put the rear rotor mast above the forward mast, rendering a banana-shaped fuselage while trying to keep the two rotors from impacting one another.

The first two designs were delivered to the US Navy and provided carriers with rapid rescue capabilities to recover pilots down in the water.

The H-21, dubbed Workhorse by the USAF and Shawnee by the Army, entered service in the late 1950s and would see combat in Vietnam with US forces and in Algeria with the French Air Force. H-21s also served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, West German Army, US Coast Guard, and Swedish Air Force.

Piasecki would later become Vertol Helicopters, then was acquired by Boeing to become Boeing/Vertol. Further tandem helicopter designs would continue to be developed including the CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-47 Chinook that are still operational today.

FEResin has released the H-21 in 1/144 scale - in resin! This kit is hollow-cast molded in tan resin and consists of 26 parts, plus two vacuformed canopies. The casting quality is exquisite.

The fuselage is hollow-cast cowling so as not to be a heavy model. The rear cabin doesn't have an interior, but you can't see in there anyway since you'll be using white glue or Crystal Klear for the port hole windows.

The cockpit consists of a floor with crew seats and center console, plus a separate instrument panel. The panel is provided as a decal, but check out that decal sheet - they also provide the seat cushions on the sheet with seatbelts and harnesses. Interesting...

The forward glazing is provided as a vacuformed part and two are provided - just in case.

The two-piece rotor hub/swash plate should be strong enough to hold the rotor blades and withstand some handling. The part I am concerned about is the landing gear. Those struts are also resin and may be fine initially, but they'll be brittle enough that any handling will result in fractured/shattered landing gear. I'd replace the resin struts with brass wire and use the resin wheels. Notice the decals to replicate the details on the wheel hubs. Once again, interesting...

You might want to put a little ballast up in the nose as that horizontal stab and twin tail assembly might be just enough to make this kit tail-heavy. All the more reason for brass wire landing gear!

This is an impressive little kit that will go together quickly, though it should be attempted by modelers with some skills working with small resin parts and cyanoacrylate adhesives.

My sincere thanks to for this review sample!