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KIT REVIEW


Revell Bell UH-1C -- 1:35 Scale

The UH-1 Iroquois will forever be one of the legends of modern aviation and it is quite possibly the most storied rotary wing aircraft of the 20th century.  The Huey was associated with the Vietnam conflict and became something of an icon of the war itself, served in a variety of roles over the following three decades, and continues on today with a range of tasks.  Here in the Washington, D.C. area, I see the UH-1Ns of the 1st Helicopter Squadron shuttling around dignitaries and VIPs most days of the week.  In this recent release by Revell, the German kit manufacturer has reboxed the 1994-era MRC UH-1C kit.  A review copy recently arrived on our workbench, so let’s take a look at this new issue of a venerable Huey kit.                

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The American combat helicopter came of age, many would argue, in the form of the iconic Bell UH-1 Iroquois – better known as the Huey.  In 1952, the U.S. Army identified a requirement for a new helicopter to serve as a MEDEVAC platform, instrument trainer, and general utility aircraft.  Bell’s Model 204, which featured a single turboshaft engine with two-blade main and tail rotors, won the competition by beating out designs from more than 20 other contractors.  The prototype XH-40 helicopter first flew in 1957, and was designated the HU-1 when it entered service.  HU-1 soon came to be pronounced as "Huey" and even when the designation was changed to UH-1 1962, the nickname stuck.

While their performance was significantly better than the earlier generation of piston-engine helicopters, the first UH-1As and UH-1Bs were underpowered.  When fitted with external weapons and ammo, performance was further degraded.  Work on the UH-1C began in 1960 and aimed to incorporate the T53-L-11 powerplant to provide the muscle needed to accommodate the weight of additional armament systems.  Additionally, the improved rotor resulted in better maneuverability and increased speed.  The larger rotor also required a new tail boom and larger elevators for the UH-1C.  Internal fuel capacity was increased to 242 gallons.  UH-1C production started in June 1966 with a total of 766 examples produced.

In the early days of the Vietnam War, UH-1Cs functioned largely as gunships while filling in as armed transports as needed.  In this configuration, they were known as “Frogs” or “Hogs.”  The increasing intensity and sophistication of NVA air defenses by the 1966-67 timeframe made the UH-1 gunships simply too vulnerable.  While the AH-1 Cobra replaced the UH-1C in the role of the U.S. Army's front-line attack helicopter by 1968, UH-1Cs continued to serve in the Vietnam war in a range of tasks.

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Revell’s 1:35 scale UH-1C kit consists of 227 injection molded polystyrene parts on seven sprues, 14 clear parts on one sprue, and four vinyl parts.  However, on this version of the UH-1C, most of Sprue G does not get used.  The full color instruction booklet guides assembly over 72 steps.  Decals provide markings for three Charlies:

Strengths:  This kit contains the tooling from the original 1994 MRC kit that has been subsequently reboxed in multiple incarnations by MRC and Academy.  The molds have been “dormant” for a decade since its last pressing by Academy, so this issue by Revell is certainly welcome, especially for big-scale rotary wing fans. 

In 1:35 scale, the U-1C is more than 18 inches long and 16 wide with the rotor blades attached.  It’s not small, and accordingly, the original MRC molds have a lot of detail that stand up well to the test of time.  Shape, size, and proportions all appear reasonably accurate.  Panel lines are recessed and airframe rivet detail is appropriately raised (something that a few of today’s kit manufacturers could pay attention to).  The parts breakdown is rather straightforward and it should be a relatively simple, hassle-free build.

The kit provides a full interior, and it looks quite good.  The instrument panel is nicely done with raised details and dial faces.  If painting isn’t your game, some very well-printed decals can be used as alternatives.  The seats, sticks, collectives, center console, cabin fire extinguishers, and related cockpit details appear to be well represented.  Troop compartment details, from quilted bulkheads to seats, ammo containers, and even a first aid kit are also represented.  The cockpit and cabin doors can be positioned either as open or closed.  The clear parts are really nicely done and feature excellent optical quality.

There are also two primary construction options:  the Huey Hog configuration (with what I’m pretty sure is the 40mm nose-mounted "Thump Gun" grenade launcher with outboard mounted rocket racks) and the straight-up Charlie with multiple outboard rocket rack, rocket pod, and minigun configurations.  

You can also display the left engine access door open to reveal the engine itself.  There are some molded-on details on the engine, but it really does invite some extra detailing.  The rotor mast and other details also look really nicely done.  There are parts for some nice crew figures (two pilots and two door gunners) but the instruction indicates to the builder they are not to use them, though there really is no reason (as far as I can see) not to use the pilots if one were so inclined.  Since these UH-1Cs had no door guns, obviously omit the door gunners.     

The decals were designed by AirDoc to be printed by Cartograf.  They appear to be flawless, from their vibrant colors, great print quality, and highly restrained carrier film.  The markings options are also quite well chosen, from the monster shark mouth on 66-15045 and the “Rat Pack” nose art on the UH-1Cs from the 187th AHC.     

Weaknesses:  I am not a subject matter expert regarding the UH-1C, so I am sure there are some minutia that Huey experts might see that I don’t.  Speaking from a general perspective, though, watch out for ejection pin markings on the inside of the cockpit and cabin doors.  Molded-on belt details are never my favorite, and that said, I’d classify the molded-on belt details here as a little lame.  I’m also not a fan of the vinyl ammo belts for the guns.  It was kind of a novel way to fabricate such parts maybe in the 1980s, but not anymore.   

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Revell made a choice in reboxing the MRC 1:35 scale UH-1C.  It’s a good kit of the original short-bodied Huey that has aged pretty well.  The addition of the new decals only sweetens the deal.  To add yet more detail, you can also find a range of photoetched metal and resin details for the MRC/Italieri/Academy/Revell 1:35 scale UH-1C released by a variety of manufactures including those by Eduard.  This is a solid Huey kit to my eye, and especially in 1:35 scale, it is ideal for incorporation into a diorama.

Sincere thanks to Revell of Germany for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at http://www.revell.com/germany

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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