Kitty Hawk Models 1/35 AH-6J/MH-6J Little Bird Nightstalkers Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Kitty Hawk Models
|AH-6J/MH-6J Little Bird Nightstalkers
|Nice details and options
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 Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) was born. One of the stars of that new unit was the OH-6 as it could be packed onto a pallet and several could be airlifted to a forward operating location and put into service quickly. The 160th SOAR provides air support for special operations around the world living up to their name - the Night Stalkers.
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.
Until now, the only option for a Little Bird in 1/35 scale was the venerable DML tooling which is their OH-6A Cayuse kit with some new parts, but not quite everything you need for an accurate AH-6J. To make matters worse, DML was having a laugh (at our expense) with the last reissue price at roughly the same price as the 'collectors' on eBay ($65 USD). Regardless of what you paid for the kit, you still needed corrections to render a proper AH-6J and conversions to have the MH-6J such as those offered by Black Ops Models.
Last year, Kitty Hawk announced a new series of helicopter kits in 1/35 scale with this AH-6J/MH-6J Little Bird coming first. This release covers the AH-6J and MH-6J, which were the versions that took part in operations over Mogadishu as well as a number of other special operations and in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This completely new-tooled kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on three parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and two frets of photo-etched parts. Among the features and options in this kit:
- Detailed Allison T63 engine and engine compartment
- Positionable engine compartment doors
- MFD-based instrument cluster with nice relief and optional decal overlays
- Armored crew seats with photo-etched crew restraints
- Detailed flight deck
- Positionable/optional flight deck doors
- Detailed crew cabin
- Choice of weapons plank with ammo containers (AH-6J) or troop planks for exterior seating (MH-6J)
- Choice of antennas, cooling scoops, and other small details to cover the AH-6J/MH-6J configurations at different time periods (check your references)
- Nicely detailed 7.62mm miniguns
- Optional ammo container and GAU-9 .50 caliber (12.7mm) gatling gun
- Photo-etched ammo chutes for above guns
- Positionable/optional crew cabin doors
- Optional repelling frames (MH-6J)
- Detailed rotor head
- Rotor blades molded with sag/droop
The kit provides the following external stores options:
- 2 x 7.62mm miniguns
- 1 x GAU-19 .50 caliber gatling gun
- 2 x M260 7-shot rocket pods
- 2 x M261 19-shot rocket pods
- 2 x twin-rail Hellfire launchers
- 4 x AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
Markings are included for five options:
- MH-6J, 95-25371, 160 SOAR, Somalia
- AH-6J, 90-25348, 160 SOAR
- AH-6J, 90-23635, 160 SOAR, Somalia
- AH-6J, 90-25362, 160 SOAR, Somalia
The parts trees hint at the next release of the Little Bird coming from Kitty Hawk - the 1/35 AH-6M/MH-6M Mission-Enhanced Little Bird (MELB). The color profiles depict the MH-6J with the MELB four-bladed tail rotor and chin-mounted FLIR turret, but these are not covered in the instructions.
If you love black ops subjects like the Little Bird, you'll also want to find a set of Werners Wings 1/35 Night Stalkers Part 1 and Night Stalkers Part 2 decals that also provide additional information useful for building an accurate Little Bird for a specific time/mission period.
For a look at this kit built-up without paint or filler, check out our quick-build review here.
My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!