F*CKING IRENE!: Building Kitty Hawk’s 1/35 UH-60L “Super 64 – Venom”: Part 1 – The Cockpit.

Good luck boys, be careful.

All units IRENE, I say again IRENE. It’s time to get started on this long awaited project.

I’ve never built a Kitty Hawk kit, but I’ve heard lots of…things. Upon opening the substantial box, I am extremely impressed. I don’t feel a need to do sprue reviews, as others have done a far better job, but the detail is indeed very nice.

That said, I am trying to build Durant’s “Super-64” as it would have been on the morning of October 3, 1993. To do that as accurately as possible, my references indicate that there are some changes that will need to be made with the kit.

We will begin with some bullet points in the cockpit and crew areas.

  1. The most substantial accuracy issue is that, at least in Super 64, the crew chief seats are positioned with their backs to each other, behind the mini guns, and not with their backs to the pilots as is the only option in the kit. To correct this accurately will take a ceiling bracket that we have designed and had 3d printed. You could probably make the same with some scratch building skills.
  2. The ammo cans for the miniguns were 3000 round and probably positioned between the crew seats and the pilots seats. Ignore the kit directions on their locations. I am working on some confirmation of their positions and locations but it is clear that with the proper crew seat position the kits position of the ammo cans are incorrect.
  3. There were no internal fuel tanks as she was carrying 18 Rangers and needed the maximum passenger load.
  4. The fast rope bar would have been locked in the extended position with the rope attached and the running end coiled on the floor.
  5. There should be two survival bags mounted to the rear cabin wall. I am going to create this with apoxie sculpt. This too might be something we include in the aforementioned correction set if we find there is enough interest.
  6. The floor in the cargo area and around the pilots would have had 1/2″ thick rolled steel ballistic armor.

With those changes in mind, I started building the crew compartment. This is a very clever sub assembly that will be trapped in the fuselage halves once built up. The detail is superb, but there are a few problems.

First, note the way the instrument panel attaches into the combing along the top. These holes will have be filled and sanded along with the two circular holes along the top that are for parts not present in 64 (both parts F-34 should be deleted but not discarded).

Second, the instructions would have you install the rudder pedals (E-21) backwards. It’s difficult to explain how you can tell the difference, but the picture below should show what I believe to be the correct orientation based on several reference photographs of the same.

Also shown in the picture above is the re-use of parts F-34 under the instrument cowl and the location of the PE angle brackets. The instructions do very little to help install the PE brackets in a way that makes sense and that is as close as I could get them to my reference photographs (note: I’m not as confident about this orientation as I am the pedals).

Third, the ceiling, while a nicely rendered part is in desperate need of some up-detailing with wires and some plaisticard. The UH-60L ceiling could be covered with a type of soundproofing panels and Kitty Hawk has decided to have part of that covering off exposing the underlying structure. I initially tried to build this to some reference photographs I have of an aircraft with a similar configuration and I got about about halfway done with some plumbing when it was confirmed that Super 64 had all of the soundproofing panels in place. Back to the drawing board. Note also in this photograph that if you are moving the crew chief seats into their proper assault configuration as discussed above, there are holes to be filled (and holes that exist to apparently receive the bracket for the crew chief seats leading me to believe the bracket has been contemplated by Kitty Hawk but not included for some reason).

Getting to this point, I was eager to get some paint on the instrument panel and see what I could do with it. Even with that, I wanted to try out the kit instrument panel decal. By trial, and without reservation, I can say do not use it in its entirety. Instead, punch out individual dial faces, or other minor details, and use them individually. I did that and also augmented those with some aeroscale instrument decals, then painted the MFDs with transparent green, picked out a few dials and buttons per references, and gave it all some weathering to tie it together. I also added some lead wire in bundles behind the instrument panel to give a hint of the business behind there. After a coat of dullcote the lenses of the instruments were filled with Bondic, or Future for the MFDs. I’m pretty impressed with where this is headed so far.

Up next, I’m going to give the engine some detailing before I get back to the crew compartment.

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