Kitty Hawk Models 1/35 MH-60L Black Hawk Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Kitty Hawk Models
|MH-60L Black Hawk
|Nice details and options
The US Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (160th SOAR) is a unique entity in Army aviation. If you find a 'stock' helicopter on their flightline, it is probably a transient. These are the folks that go where sane folks fear to tread, but they carry a big stick! Many folks will remember the 160th from the movie 'Blackhawk Down' as these folks not only starred in the movie, they were also in the midst of it in Somalia. Their trademark AH-6J and MH-6J Little Birds (significantly updated OH-6 Loaches) have wreaked havoc behind enemy lines in virtually every formal US action as well as many more that we will never know about. The 160th also operate the MH-47E Chinook and the MH-60K/L Blackhawk.
The AH-60L is an armed outgrowth of the MH-60L and provides more firepower over a greater operating range than the AH-6J. The 'DAP' in its title stands for Direct Action Penetrator, which is evidently Army speak for their new bird's ability to kick the door down. Equipped with shortened External Stores Support System (ESSS) 'wings', the MH-60L can be armed with the AGM-114 Hellfire missile (up to eight per aircraft) or two 19-shot rocket pods. In addition, the aircraft is also equipped with two 7.62mm gatling guns as well as two .50 caliber machine guns, either of which are efficient at converting terrorists to martyrs.
Kitty Hawk Models released the 1/35 Killer Eggs previously in the AH/MH-6J versions (as configured in Somalia), and the much-updated AH/MH-6M versions. These kits are the best kits for the Little Birds in any scale to date, and hopefully we'll see Kitty Hawk circle around with a Vietnam-era OH-6A Loach and other variants in our future. Ever since they announced the coming series of the Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopters last year, many folks have been waiting in anticipation.
Here is their first installment in the Sikorsky H-60 family, the MH-60L Black Hawk in 1/35 scale. This kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on ten parts trees plus one tree of clear parts, and two frets of photo-etched parts. When you look inside the box, you'll quickly realize that this is not the Academy kit. Among the features and options in this kit:
- Nicely detailed flight deck
- Great main cabin details
- Options for troop carrier or one of several gunship configurations
- Lots of photo-etched seatbelts provided for the troop seats
- Optional M134 miniguns/mounts/ammo cans for side windows
- Optional M230 forward-firing guns with ammo cans in cabin and photo-etched ammo chutes
- Optional GAU-21 machine guns with mounts, ammo feeds, and ammo cans
- Nice T700 engines w/detailed IR suppressor exhaust shrouds
- Positionable engine access doors
- Nicely detailed rotor head and swash plate
- Optional chin FLIR turret
- Accurate horizontal stabilator with handholds and folding points
- Choice of RHAW antennas
- Choice of flight deck windows
- Positionable flight deck doors
- Positionable main cabin doors
- Avionics bay in nose with positionable cover
- Optional ESSS winglets/external stores hardpoints
- Seven resin crew figures (see notes)
The kit provides the following external stores options:
- 2 x M134 7.62mm miniguns
- 2 x GAU-21 .50 caliber machine guns
- 2 x M230A1 30mm chain guns
- 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 four options:
- MH-60L, 91-26324, 160 SOAR, Super 61, Somalia, 1993
- MH-60L, 91-26288, 160 SOAR, Super 68, Somalia, 1993
- MH-60L, 89-26188, 160 SOAR, Super 64, Somalia, 1993
- MH-60L, 91-26363, 160 SOAR, Super 66, Somalia, 1993
- The instructions place a question mark and 'optional' in a number of areas throughout the instruction book. Please study the instructions and determine what configuration you wish to build your model. The first option shows the no seats configuration and the second with a full compliment of seats. Depending on how many guns you plan to install inside the main cabin, you'll need a few seats, but look online for different seat configurations that go with different armament configurations.
- There have been some early complaints about the painting instructions (or lack thereof) in the instruction book, but the interior was black on the flight deck and gray in the cabin. The exterior wasn't quite black, nor is it helo green, so as Floyd Werner suggested online, mix the two colors to replicate the unique shade applied to the 160th's aircraft. If you want better detail colors/appearances, look online or grab Wings and Wheels Publications' first title, UH-60A Black Hawk in Detail. Aside from some detail differences and the different exterior color, this will give you the look and feel of the aircraft.
- While the instructions don't mention it, the kit does provide the in-flight refueling probe that the MH-60L carries, when needed. The subjects in this box are focused on aircraft from the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu that was the subject of the movie 'Blackhawk Down'. You can use other references to replicate the aircraft configuration for the time period/theater of operation.
- The only glitch in the kit is that it is missing the fuselage covers used when the ESSS wings are not installed.
- The one-piece fuselage halves are a welcome sight given some of Kitty Hawk's earlier releases being more like multi-part puzzles to assemble.
- The M230A1 gun barrels and AGM-114 rocket motors are slide-molded for hollow tips. Nice!
- My sample includes seven beautifully-cast crew figures and their weapons. I've heard from some folks at their kits did not include figures, but it is my understanding from Kitty Hawk that some importers prefer the lower retail price without figures and bring them into their countries that way. From what I've seen, the US market should see the figures in their boxes.
So how does this new-tool kit compare to the Academy kit(s)? In the images below, the Kitty Hawk parts are warm gray while the equivalent Academy parts are blue-gray. Click on the images to get larger views. You can see the surface details on the Kitty Hawk parts are sharper and more refined.
Take a look at the flight deck/main cabin deck. The upper part is Kitty Hawk and the lower is Academy. That Kitty Hawk deck provides tie-down ring details!
Here are the comparable cabin ceiling parts. The Academy ceiling (bottom) is not much more than a slab. The Kitty Hawk ceiling replicates more of the details including central access panel cover and the various recesses in the rear of the main cabin ceiling. I watched one modeler scratch-build the floors and ceiling of his H-60 and while his results are more detailed than these, the Kitty Hawk parts are a major improvement.
While Kitty Hawk provides some nice decals in the kit (bottom), the unique color of the lettering of the 160ths aircraft is lighter and the kit decals would all-but-disappear against the black-green exterior. The shade of green needed is nicely replicated by Werner's Wings (top).
If you love black ops subjects like the MH-60L, you'll want to find a set of Werner's 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.
This is easily the best kit produced by Kitty Hawk to date. It is also easily the most expensive kit as well, but at roughly 50% more than the Academy kit, the extras in this kit make that cost worth it. I'm looking forward to getting this model on the bench. Stay tuned!
My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!