In the early 1960s, the US Army’s Howze Board recommended testing new forms of mobility to make the soldier “free from the tyranny of terrain.” The result was the 11th Air Assault Division, to be rechristened the First Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and sent to Vietnam in 1965. One of the elements of the airmobile division was the Air Cav -- 1st Squadron (Air), 9th Cavalry, whose personnel paid tribute to their heritage by wearing black Stetson cavalry hats. Instead of horses or half tracks, the squadron used helicopters to scout for and fight the enemy. This figure represents one of those aviators.
Opening the Box
There was no box, but a poly bag stapled to cardboard display backing. The value is in the contents: nicely cast cream colored resin. The body of the figure, with hand pointing or raised hand to rest on chopper or post and holding flight helmet. A separate bag holds a bare head, a head in a superbly rendered cav hat, and a holstered .45 pistol. (I initially thought this should be a .38 M10 Smith & Wesson revolver, but found that these were only issued around 1969 and after [see Winged Sabers, the Air Cavalry in Vietnam by Lawrence H. Johnson III, Stackpole Books 1990 and 2001])
Note that the accompanying photos show the figure in a vignette. The kit ONLY has the figure and items listed above.
There was no flash to mention and one could get right to putting pieces together. On the back of the instruction page, a photo shows an example of a completed figure. As for “construction,” it is a choice of head with, or without, the Stetson hat; I chose with. The pistol may be glued to the right hip on under the left arm as a shoulder holster. While the latter appealed to be as something different, the flight helmet seemed to get in the way of easy placement, so I went with more conventional hip position. One of the aspects of these fire retardant flight suits was the extra pockets for convenient access while seated in a helicopter. Using tissue and white glue, I added a pocket on the front of each thigh, the outside of the left calf and on the left upper arm. The arm pocket now has a pen in it, a bit of copper wire doing the duty.
When it came to painting the figure, the instructions call for Olive Drab, which could show an early, cotton flight suit. Later two-piece garments were the brown colored Nomex , and the SRU-21/P survival vest was Sage Green or OD. The Nomex shirt collar should have a sewed on black insignia of rank on the right tab and branch on the left. A few quick touches of a small pointed brush solved that. Patches are mentioned in write up, but not provided as decal nor sculpted for painting. I found an old decal set by Verlinden (US Army Badges WWII - 1988 Decals # 383 1:35 ) that furnished a subdued division patch for the pilot’s left shoulder and an American flag for his helmet. If the modeler wants to paint some character onto the figure’s face, there is sufficient sculpting to do that, with a dashing moustache provided.
While the instructions call for scratch built boom mic, I skipped this as helmet is held under an arm and the mic not seen.
This figure is very well made and gives the modeler choice of time periods to portray. The details are vey nice, especially the cav hat. Gotta love it! This reviewer “recommends” this figure for those needed daring air cav aviators with their models. My thanks to Werner’s Wings for providing the kit and to IPMS for the opportunity to review it.
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