The Vietnam War was a helicopter war. Many of the most lasting images are of fleets of helicopters, mostly the ubiquitous UH-1 “Huey,” filling the sky. What would newsreel footage of that war be without a sound track of the “whup-whup-whup” of chopper blades?
Among the many uses the UH-1 was put to was as an early version of the gunship, the ancestor of today’s Apache. Those Huey guns took a crew of four: a commissioned or warrant officer pilot (left seat) and copilot, and two enlisted door gunner/crew chief in back. This four figure kit represents the aviators of those gunships employed in that conflict.
Opening the box
The packaging is a poly bag stapled to cardboard display backing. Inside, you will find four torsos, at least one definitely a pilot pose as the right hand is holding a collective stick in his lap with a separate left arm grasping the collective. There is a copilot with harness straps the same as the pilot , hands resting in his lap ready to take the controls if needed. The two door gunners wear distinctive “chicken plate” armor vests and there are two sets of arms to hold the M-60 machine guns molded to them.
A variety of combinations are available to the builder in that the four provided heads (two with moustaches and two clean shaven) all fit the four APH-5 flight helmets (two with visors up and two down -- no eyes to be painted on those guys!).
It may be a result of stern lectures I received from Army aviators about fire safety, but I noticed that the pilot and copilot figures and one door gunner are cast with flight suit sleeves rolled up and all have no gloves; a safety issue! Still, these guys look fierce and will not be deterred from doing their duty.
There were no worries in the construction department. There were minimal seams to be smoothed and no pour plugs or flash on my sample. One can paint the torsos and arms either after assembly or beforehand. I recommend doing the heads before assembly; no good reason, but it made sense to me.
The aviators’ boots are correctly depicted as all leather; jungle boots were deemed hazardous in a fire situation as the nylon uppers could melt. When you paint these, resist the temptation to make the soles leather, as well. All the GI boots of the time had rubber composite soles and heels. Boom mics for the helmets must be scratch built. I found a bit of florists’ brass wire to work well. The post molded onto the left side of each helmet is the mounting position.
It may be a bit picky, but I felt that the helmets looked too big, or the heads too small, to be quite right. Then I came upon the idea of positioning the heads in the helmets and then adding a bit of putty inside on each ear to represent the noise baffling headset pieces within the helmets. I only wish I had thought of that before it was too late to act upon it.
The photos on the instruction sheet that give examples of completed figures show personalized helmets with nicknames, etc. There are no decals for these markings, so a trip to the spares box may be called for. Freehand is an option of you have a steadier paint brush than mine.
If your kit stash includes a 1/24 Huey, you may want these guys to crew it for you. This set is “recommended” by this reviewer. My thanks to Werner’s Wings for providing the kit and to IPMS for the opportunity to review it.
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