Revell 1/48 H-34G Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||January 2006||Manufacturer||Revell|
|Kit Number||4467||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Four versions released - US H-34 Sea Horse, German H-34G, Tubine-Powered Wessex, S-58 'Sabena'||Cons||Out of production|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
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 H-34 Seabat, the US Marines as the H-34 Sea Horse and even into the US Coast Guard.
The USAF acquired only a few H-34s to serve as an interim rescue aircraft well after Sikorsky production ended, and these were only retained a few years.
In addition to US military service, the H-34 was exported to numerous military branches around the world, and its civilian version, the S-58 saw global commercial service as well. By the time production ceased in early 1970, over 1,800 examples had been built.
The aircraft was typically powered by a Wright R1820 radial engine of 1,525 horsepower, and many were later re-engined with a turbine pack rated at 1,550 shp.
The aircraft was employed in a wide range of missions from passenger service, troop transport, medevac, supply, vertep, and more. The aircraft was rugged, versatile and adaptable for duty in a wide range of environmental and operational conditions.
Revell/US and Revell released a series of kits representing different versions of the S-58/H-34 family back in the late 1980s. Through minor variations in plastic and decals, we had a typical US H-34D, German H-34G, British Wessex 'Queens Flight', British Wessex HAS.3, and a civil S-58 in Sabena airlines colors. All of these were produced in 1/48 scale, and almost all are hard to come by today. The easiest version to find is the Queens Flight turbine Wessex as this one I recall was reissued again briefly in the 1990s.
So what's the big deal? This was one of the most widely used helicopters in the world and remained in production for nearly 20 years. This one airframe can be found in a WIDE array of international military service colors as well as in civilian colors. If you wanted an important piece of aviation history, this was kit.
This release of the H-34, representing the H-34G, is presented on four parts trees. The two trees containing external airframe parts and details are molded in olive green, a third tree containing the aircraft interior is molded in light gray, while the fourth tree contains the clear transparencies. Surface detailing of the kit is a mix of scribed panel lines and raised rivets. This is one aircraft where raised versus scribed detailing would make any real difference.
Since the kit hasn't been on store shelves for quite a few years, it has never benefited from the variety of aftermarket detail sets that have been produced for more contemporary releases. In fact, the only detail set I am aware of that is currently available is Cobra Company's H-34T Turbine Pack Conversion Nose.
Out of the box, the kit is reasonably detailed and would make into a nice looking H-34. The addition of the interior for the passenger/cargo compartment is quite welcome.
For the AMS modeler, this kit is blank canvas awaiting some attention. The cockpit is rather plain and a little work with a Waldron punch, photo-etched seat belts, and other easy to acquire details will set this area off nicely.
The cargo compartment is a nice addition, but it lacks a ceiling. Observers will be looking up into the top of the fuselage. This is easily remedied. The interior walls of the cargo compartment have structural details molded inside the fuselage halves and this is a nice start. Depending on the version you're modeling, you can use Bare Metal Foil or lead foil with patterns scribed into the surface to represent the sound insulation blankets installed in many aircraft.
The big hole in this kit is under the cowl. Literally. Aside from an insert that covers the exhaust stack hole in the left cowl half, there is nothing in there. The AMS modeler will want to open up the molded air vents in the top of the cowl halves and replace this with some generic photo-etched screen. To take care of the void inside the cowl, you'll have to fabricate a motor mount and install an aftermarket R1820 radial engine. Whether you pose the cowl halves open or closed, you can have that important bit of detail visible through the various openings around the cowling.
Markings are included for three examples:
- H-34G, Heer (German Army), 80+58
- H-34G, German Navy Search & Rescue, 80+81
- H-34G, Royal Netherlands Navy, 142
This kit is long out of production, but I keep hoping to see Revell-Monogram or Revell re-release at least the piston-powered H-34 kits again. Just imagine the possibilities if Eduard and Cobra Company were to develop details and special mission variants for this kit. In the meantime, if you have one (or more) of these kits on the shelf, dust one off and check it out again.
Definitely recommended (if you can find one).
- Sikorsky H-34 - An Illustrated History, Lennart Lundh, © 1998, Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-7643-0522-0