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UH-1D 'Huey'

Kitty Hawk 1/48 UH-1D 'Huey' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2017 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk
Subject UH-1D 'Huey' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80154 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice kit Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $49.99

First Look

UH-1D 'Huey'
UH-1D 'Huey'
UH-1D 'Huey'

During the early 1950s, turbine engines were powering production fixed-wing aircraft around the world and in 1951, Kaman modified his K-225 airframe with a Boeing gas turbine engine to render the first turbine-powered helicopter. This development would later lead to the H-43 Huskie, but the first production turbine helicopter was the Alouette II. Bell quickly experimented with turbine power and a modified Bell 47 flew in 1954. Bell's first purpose-built turbine helicopter was the Model 204 which entered service with the US Army as the HU-1 (which was unofficially pronounced 'Huey'). The 204 airframe served as the basis for the (redesignated in 1963) UH-1A, UH-1B, and UH-1C which served as gun platforms but its small cabin had limited capacity to lift troops. The Army sought a helicopter that could lift a crew of four as well as 8-10 armed soldiers. Bell stretched the 204 by 41 inches and made corresponding updates to the engine, rotor, and tailboom. This stretched airframe became the Model 205 and well over 2,000 airframes were built for the US Army as well as allied nations.

Kitty Hawk has released their 1/48 UH-1D Iroquois (or 'Huey') and you can immediately see that this kit is more detailed than any previous UH-1D/H in this scale (or any other scale for that matter). Nevertheless, this kit is not over-engineered nor over-complicated as some past kits have appeared. The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on three parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched parts. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Detailed cabin
  • Detailed instrument panel, center and overhead consoles
  • Armored pilots seats with photo-etched restraints
  • Positionable pilot doors
  • Positionable sliding cabin doors
  • Lightweight passenger seats with photo-etched lap belts
  • Detailed engine and transmission
  • Positionable engine bay access doors
  • Positionable nose batter access door
  • Optional M60 guns and external mounts

The kit provides markings for seven subjects:

  • UH-1D, 121 AHC, US Army, Vietnam
  • UH-1D, 117 AHC, US Army, Vietnam
  • UH-1D, 170 AHC, US Army, Vietnam
  • UH-1D, 174 AHC, US Army, Vietnam
  • UH-1D, 71+32, Luftwaffe
  • UH-1H, 354, RoCAF
  • UH-1H, 41709, JGSDF

The kit itself looks nice out of the box but here are a few thoughts:

  • The instructions do not distinguish which details go with which version. For example, the kit includes the cable cutter over the main cabin which appeared later in service for the UH-1 but the instructions don't show that this feature wouldn't be used in the Vietnam War examples
  • When the UH-1 did receive cable cutters, they initially appeared over the cabin to keep cables away from the rotor mast but they were soon supplemented with one under the nose to also keep cables from getting caught up in the skid struts
  • The kit provides the external mounts for the M60s though these were not widely used in Vietnam as they'd interfere with the rapid loading and unloading of troops under fire
  • While the kit title says UH-1D, there are international UH-1H examples and some of the above parts are valid for the UH-1H after Vietnam
  • In short, check your references to see which antennas, fixtures, and mounts were used on your subject as there are nice options provided in the box but little guidance on when these should be used

With each release, Kitty Hawk is showing improvement with their design and molding processes. You won't find the over-engineered features in this kit that we've seen previously and I am looking forward to seeing how well the kit assembles.

My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!