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Readers’ Gallery: DHKollektr’s Tamiya 1/72 Bell UH-1B

Agape forum member DHKollektr (John Gloz) posted pics of his wonderful UH-1B back in September. How did I miss it? 🙂 Great work John!

This Bell UH-1B was my contribution to a theme-build for a low key competition that takes place in Melbourne every September, this one was for 2009.  All participating clubs are given an identical kit and one member from the club then has a few (hopefully several) weeks in which to build the model.  This kit is by Tamiya in 1/72nd scale, and the instruction sheet is totally in Japanese characters.  This wasn’t a problem except for the colours, but references to my Jap-English translation sheets soon sorted that.  All of the construction steps are very clearly illustrated and you’d have to be blind to mess it up.

This was my first ever helicopter, and before I started it I was a bit unsure about what to expect.  I needn’t have worried, it all went rather similar to any other aircraft kit with some minor fit issues.  The worst areas were the floor to fuselage joins, the main bulkhead to roof, and the windscreen (all the major visible joins).  I had to file/sand the floor and scrape inside the fuselage to get a good fit there with minimal gaps.  The top of the main bulkhead needed building up with some evergreen strip so that there wasn’t a huge gap there.  The windscreen and fuselage both needed some very careful sanding to get a good gap-free fit, it’s not perfect but you certainly can’t post a letter through it either.

Very early in the build process, I worked out that this model would be tail-heavy, so shaped a small piece of lead to fit in the instrument console.  I don’t have any small scales to weigh it, but I estimate it’s only about 1 gram, but it sure did the trick; the finished model sits firmly flat on the skids instead of balancing gingerly on the rear part.

I pondered a couple of options to get a life-like sag in the rotor blades, and in the end worked out that the plastic wasn’t at all brittle, so just bent them cold.  I held almost a 90 degree deflection for  a few minutes and I think it looks quite realistic.  I was disappointed that I couldn’t manage to re-position the blade so that it took on the static locked position with the rear blade hooked to the tail boom, but otherwise it’s good.

This is the first model that I attempted any weathering.  I used Alclad clear smoke on the exhaust nozzle, and I was very dissapointed with that, it’s very blue.  Other weathering was just subtle wearing of the olive drab paint off the skids and some very dark grey smoke staining on the top of the boom.  Somebody said to me that I also should have put some pronounced mud stains on the floor, as they would hardly have had time to clean it between sorties in ‘Nam.

I used all Tamiya acrylics for this, and gave it a coat of Future before applying the decals, which all went on very well.  I think the only silvering was on one of the a/c numbers on one of the doors, a bit of pin-pricking and Microscale Micro-Sol to the rescue.  The fin-flashes and codes were a bit large, so I had to do a bit of careful trimming before use. When they were all cured I used Testors Dull Coat over all, and here is the result.  Enjoy.