Gallery Models 1/48 H-34 US Navy Rescue Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|H-34 US Navy Rescue
|Styrene / Photo-Etch
|Nicely detailed kit
|Disagreement between kit and box art
The H-34 was one of Sikorsky's most popular helicopters ever produced (next to the Blackhawk). The aircraft first flew in March 1954 and entered service with the US Army as the CH-34 Choctaw, the US Navy as the HSS-1 Seabat (anti-submarine version) and the HUS-1 Seahorse (utility version which was also flown by the US Marine Corps). After the Secretary of Defense McNamara's standardization of military aircraft designations in 1962, the H-34 remained CH-34 for the Army while the Seabat became the SH-34 and the Seahorse became the UH-34.
The aircraft was typically powered by a Wright R1820 radial engine of 1,525 horsepower. The aircraft was employed in a wide range of missions from passenger service, troop transport, medevac, supply, and for a short time as a gunship in Vietnam. The aircraft was rugged, versatile and adaptable for duty in a wide range of environmental and operational conditions.
The Sikorsky H-34 has been a popular subject over the years though in 1/48 scale, the only option has been the Revell kit. Revell recently reissued the kit after it had been off the market for many years and had become somewhat expensive on the collector's market. I recently had the opportunity to do a quick build of the reissued kit and while it is an easy build, it just doesn't hold up to today's standards for details. The problem was that I had just finished building the Italeri 1/48 Wessex (turbine-powered H-34) and it is far superior to the Revell kit.
Here is Gallery Models' 1/48 H-34 kit and it definitely superior to the Italeri kit. Before we get into the details, let's look at the basics. The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees plus three trees of clear parts and two frets of photo-etched details.
Among the features and options in this kit:
- Very detailed flight deck
- Pilots' seats have photo-etched harnesses
- Positionable flight deck windows
- Web seats in main cabin have photo-etched seat belts
- Nose doors are positionable to reveal engine bay
- Positionable main cabin door
- VERY detailed R1820 with cooling shrouds and exhaust ducts
- Photo-etched grilles around engine comparment
- Main cabin detailing is very nice with cabin sidewalls molded separately from fuselage halves
- Rear of main cabin open into detailed rear fuselage
- Vented rear of doghouse is incredibly molded with see-through venting
- Tail can be posed folded or flight-ready
- Main rotors molded with gravity sag
- Main and tail struts equipped with emergency flotation system
The disagreement between the kit and the box art is actually revealed in the instructions. The box art shows this aircraft equipped with M60 machine guns as part of the Temporary Kit-1 (TK-1) armament applied to some USMC aircraft. While the guns are on the sprue trees, they're not used in the instructions for these three examples below.
This kit has markings for three examples:
- HSS-1N (SH-34J), 147990, HS-7, AV/51, USN
- H-34, 4-04, Italian Navy
- HSS-1N (SH-34J), 145694, HU-1, OP/43, USN
This kit has some incredible detailing and has even more versions in store for us in the future. The landing gear in this kit is provided as a small parts tree and represents the later H-34 V-leg landing gear applied to most aircraft. It is my understanding (also revealed on the USMC box art) that the early 'bent-leg' landing gear version will be available in the near future. In addition, there is armament and armor plating provided in this kit for the USMC TK-1-equipped versions (guns and rocket pod). If you also look carefully at the second-to-last parts tree image, you see a drop tank there so we'll also be seeing either the Coast Guard or the arctic variants (or both) in the future as well.
Where the Italeri kit raised the bar over the Revell kit by a serious margin, you'll find that this Gallery Models kit has raised that bar at least that far above the Italeri kit and what else would you expect from a kit designed by Sherman Collings?
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!