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H-21C Shawnee

Italeri 1/48 H-21C Shawnee Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2017 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject H-21C Shawnee Scale 1/48
Kit Number 2733 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Best kit of this subject Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $47.99

First Look

H-21C Shawnee
H-21C Shawnee
H-21C Shawnee
H-21C Shawnee
H-21C Shawnee

While the helicopter didn't become operationally significant until after World War 2, development of vertical lift technology was well underway before the war as demonstrated by the indoor flight of an Fw 61 inside the Deutchlandhalle (Berlin) in 1938. The Fw 61 (later Fa 61) was a twin-rotor design with lateral outriggers, a concept that Mil OKB would employ with its Mi-12 heavy-lift helicopter. Bell, Sikorsky, and Mil would focus on a single main rotor along with a counter-torque rotor. While other approaches to vertical lift would also be tried, it was Piasecki that would use the tandem twin main rotor approach. Piasecki developed the HRP Rescuer which was followed by the HRP-2 transport helicopter.

The H-21 was offered to the fledgling USAF in 1949 as an evolution of the HRP that featured an all-metal fuselage and a supercharged engine rated at 1150hp. These aircraft became the H-21A Workhorse assigned to SAR duties while the H-21B powered by an uprated 1425hp engine would serve in the transport and air assault roles. The US Army would also adopt the 1425hp aircraft as the H-21C Shawnee. These aircraft served through the 1950s and the H-21C saw combat during the early years of the Vietnam war. Piasecki's tandem rotor design would continue as the company would later produce the H-46 Seaknight and H-47 Chinook. The Piasecki Helicopter company changed its name to Vertol and was later purchased by Boeing to become Boeing-Vertol.

Italeri has released their much-anticipated H-21 Workhorse / Shawnee kit in 1/48 scale. Originally intended for 2016 release, this kit is easily the best kit of this subject to date. Previous offerings have come from Aurora, FM, and Special Hobby in this scale along with a variety of releases in 1/72 and 1/144 scales. While Italeri did release this subject in 1/72, this kit does offer more details though it does share some attributes with its smaller cousin.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Detailed flight deck
  • Photo-etched seatbelts and shoulder harnesses on crew seats
  • Cyclic and collective provided for both crew stations
  • Instrument panel with decal instruments
  • Positionable flight deck windows
  • Avionics racks aft of flight deck
  • Main cabin floor
  • Fore and aft main cabin bulkheads
  • Overhead main cabin fairing covers upper fuselage seam
  • Web seating in main cabin
  • Positionable fore and aft main cabin doors
  • Detailed engine
  • Positionable engine bay doors
  • Main rotor blades have droop molded into parts
  • Photo-etched grilles provided for engine intake screen
  • Choice of vertical stabs
  • Weighted wheels
  • Optional external cargo sling arrangement

The kit provides marking options for three aircraft:

  • H-21C, 51-5051, 93 Transport Company, US Army, Da Nang, Vietnam, 1963
  • H-21B, 53-4327, MATS, USAF, NAS Turner Field, 1960
  • H-21, 18, Flottille 31F, French Navy, Algeria, 1956

As I mentioned above, while this kit does have more details than its smaller cousin, it also shares similar attributes as well:

  • One of the bugs that troubled the 1/72 scale kit was the lack of panel line alignment between fuselage halves. Dry-fitting these fuselage halves reveals a similar lack of alignment with several panel lines
  • If you look at the second image from the top, this is looking inside the fuselage halves and you'll see some ejector pin marks that will need to be cleaned up though they will be easy to mitigate. What you'll also note is that there is no internal structural details on the fuselage interior so you may wish to add strip styrene to replicate that visual detail should you pose the cabin doors open
  • The instructions show the two different vertical stabs in the kit but are not real clear on the fact that: (a) you'll need to select the right tail for your subject and this isn't indicated in the instructions; (b) you'll need to open up the right holes in the vertical stabs to mount to the horizontal stabs; and (c) all of the vertical stab vanes should deflect starboard (right). You could miss that bit of information when viewing the CAD-based instructions.
  • There are no external fuel tanks or pylons/mounts included in the kit. While not always fitted, these were used by the USAF on the H-21B and the Army on their H-21C
  • No seatbelts provided for the main cabin

Despite these attributes, this kit will build up into a nice model of the H-21 and I believe it is the best kit of the subject released to date. With a little scratchbuilding and rescribing, you have the ability to create a serious contest contender.

My sincere thanks to Italeri USA for this review sample!