H-21 Big Ed Set
My father, a retired career pilot and Colonel in the USAF, passes along a magazine he receives each month as a member of the Air Force Association. Several years ago, an article in one issue titled “Life on the Pine Tree Line” captivated me. The article details daily activities at a remote DEW-line radar site on Resolution Island, in far North Newfoundland, back in the 50s and 60s. In particular, photos of an H-21 Shawnee or “Flying Banana” as it is more commonly referred to in Artic Red conspicuity markings, caught my eye. Other aircraft and vehicles documented in the photos included a C-123, a TWA “Connie”, various cargo trucks and vehicles, and a small WWII utility vehicle known as a “Weasel”. Visions of a winter diorama scene began to take shape.
Fast forward several years, and after researching availability of the necessary vehicles in each scale, I acquired the both the Italeri and Special Hobby 1/48 H-21 kits, along with a couple of Weasels from CMK to go with the Tamiya US 2-1/2 Ton 6X6 Cargo Truck. When the opportunity to review this Eduard Big Ed set came up, my decision on which H-21 kit to use was made.
I have completed a few kits using photo etch details, and freely admit that I am not yet a master of that particular medium. My huge fumble fingers and the tiny bits of metal have a difficult time playing well together. However, well-done photoetch details such as these are an opportunity to provide beautiful and realistic added detailing that is hard to achieve even for the best of detail painters. So, even with my ham-fisted PE skills, the results are worthwhile in my game.
Upon opening the distinctive Big Ed heavy cardboard packaging envelope, one is treated to four packages of Eduard’s PE details in plastic pouches, and one sheet of pre-cut masks for the three wheels, bug-eyed canopy and other clear parts in a separate plastic pouch. Included in each are Eduard’s clear, easy to follow pictorial instruction sheets. The included PE sets are #49819 - H-21C cockpit seatbelts, #49820 - H-21C cargo interior webbed seat backs, and #49821, the H-21C cockpit and exterior detailing set. The mask set is EX547.
Assembly is straight forward (as much as it can be for PE parts). Most of the cockpit and seatbelt assembly was cut and paste, as expected. As with most such sets, some minor bending of the seatbelts is necessary, and will test your patience and dexterity to achieve a proper drape and lay across the seat. A few parts required use of my bending jig to make the requisite avionics boxes and things. The center console will require several test fits to get the subtle angles correct before finding that there is precious little contact surface for glue. But careful fitting and patience pay off with a beautiful cockpit representation that cannot be achieved with the just plastic kit parts. It is all very visible in the finished product through the huge glass nose of this bird.
Installation of the webbed seat backs in the cargo area was also a challenge for me. There is not much in the way of surface area for the bottom of the photo etch seat backs to attach to the kit seats. I ended up using epoxy to get sufficient “sticky” to keep things in place long enough to stay. I also elected to paint the backside of the stainless steel parts with “Insignia Red” to match the interior face of the seat backs, as they are plainly visible through the cabin side windows. In the end, what you can see through the small doors, when they are opened is nice, and a realistic interpretation of the rugged interior seating in the H-21.
The exterior PE parts mostly represent various access hatches and covers scattered along the airframe, along with the engine area ventilation screens. Also included are replacement details for some exterior structural stress-point plates and attachment plates for the engine access covers. These particular parts are a significant improvement over the heavy kit detailing in those areas. My installation abilities for these details needs some practice. I have yet to master the skills needed to apply CA or whatever the adhesive of choice might be to attach these tiny bits to a smooth plastic surface, in the correct exact spot the first time, and have them stay stuck. The larger pieces are somewhat easier, simply because you can get a grip on them. Even the little gooey-ended plastic part holders stymie my efforts at placing the tiniest vents and caps. In the final analysis, though, after painting and weathering, all of these little details “pop” to the eye, and add to the realism effect that your look for from these things.
In conclusion, this is “Big Ed” set from Eduard is an excellent opportunity to enhance the Italeri H-21 “Flying Banana” at an affordable price. The PE parts and mask set allow the modeler to better finish and upgrade the existing kit parts. I may purchase another set to apply to my Special Hobby edition of the H-21, as most of the PE frets will adapt to that kit as well.
Very, very highly recommended. Order from the Eduard website (you are a Bunny Fighter Club member by now, aren’t you?) or your favorite hobby shop today. Thanks to the IPMS Reviewer Corps and Eduard for the opportunity to review these items.