|SUBJECT:||MH-60G “PAVE HAWK”|
|Time to Complete:||9.5 hours|
Bottom Line up front: It is hard to sum up this kit beyond stating that it was frustrating, if not difficult. I might have given this kit even less stars if the built model was not surprisingly impressive (even with all of the underlying flaws). What is even more shocking is that given the ubiquitous nature of the subject air frame, there are critically few choices in 1/48 scale, and this could possibly be the best of those. An advanced modeler with great reference material, and a penchant for scratch-building, could make a truly stunning model from this kit. A beginner modeler would likely only make a mess that roughly resembles the famous Sikorsky helicopter. For almost everyone reading this, unless you have to build in 1/48 for some reason, I would recommend choosing some of the UH-60 options/variants in 1/35 scale instead.
The Build: The instructions begin in the crew compartment with assembling the auxiliary fuel tanks, a large ammunition box, and the cockpit area. If anything the first two steps illustrates the overall Jeckyl and Hyde quality of the kit. I found that the parts for the fuel tank and ammunition box went together very well and were reasonably well detailed for the scale. Conversely, the instrument panel and center console are ridiculously spartan with the cockpit instrumentation being provided as decals on a flat surface. The cyclic, collective, and seats required a great deal of scraping to remove flash, or noticeable mold seams, but look the part after some work (except the seats, those will need some attention and extra detailing including belts).
By step 3 you are already being asked to close up the fuselage. The crew ceiling has some limited detail (one of the places where a scratch builder could make some hay), but also some ejector pin marks that will need to be cleaned up. The transmission assembly went together without issue, or much clean up, as did the tail rotor assembly (the latter having some sink marks that would have to be addressed before assembling the parts).
There are some ejector pin marks on the inside of the fuselage that might need to be addressed, as does the lack of the landing gear closet that would be behind the pilot’s outboard shoulders covering the landing gear strut. The pilot’s armor is to be attached to the fuselage halves and was surprisingly well molded and detailed. I didn’t address the closet detail, or the ejector pin marks, and within an hour and a half from cracking open the box had a Blackhawk fuselage with interior glued together. I thought the build would take about 4 hours total at this point.
At step 4, the proverbial wheels begin to come off as you, ironically, are being asked to put the wheels on. Steps 4 and 5 are the landing gear, wheels, wire cutters, steps, one door, several windows including the windscreen, greenhouse windows, and chin bubble windows. The clear parts will require some confidence working with clear parts to address. If you don’t have confidence working with clear parts, after this kit, you will.
My recommendation is to put the chin bubble windows in the fuselage halves before you close up the fuselage, using gap filling super glue to fill any gaps, or steps, then sanding/polishing those in position while you still have access to the inside in case of fogging. Next, I would recommend installing the green house windows (parts 7c and 8c) into the green house frame (part 27b), sanding and polishing those before installing that assembly above the cockpit.
This is where it gets tricky: the greenhouse assembly relies on the windscreen and one door for location. My thoughts are that this would probably all fit better if one were doing a subject with the pilot’s doors off. Even though that option requires carefully cutting the pilot’s door out of the starboard fuselage half, I believe it is likely that the fit would be better without having to rely on the tops of the doors to align the greenhouse assembly and the windscreen. If that isn’t an option for you, plan on doing a great deal of dry fitting, sanding, and using some super thin superglue as some parts will need to be installed under minor tension.
The sponsons below the pilots doors (parts 46b and 47b) are similarly as tricky. Not only is there little positive location (you have to use the installed landing gear struts, and one pin, to vertically align these parts), but the mating surfaces of those sponsons with the fuselage is a compound curve covered in flash. The fit here will require filler (I suggest perfect plastic putty and a moistened q-tip, and patience).
Moving on to steps 6-8 there are similar other issues. If possible, do a subject that does not require assembling the refueling probe (step 5G). This assembly will require a great deal of work to get aligned properly as it fits very imperfectly over the aforementioned sponsons, sponsons that are likely to be slightly misaligned anyway. After that, parts 15a and 16a, the stub wings where the External Stores Support System would otherwise go, suffer the same fate as the lading gear sponsons where the mating surface is several compound curves covered in some flash that will need to be removed thus inevitably changing the curvature of the mating surface leaving gaps.
The engine inlets (parts 25e, 45b and 24a and 44b) fit together to each other and the fuselage leaving a gap that will need to be filled with card stock. Expect some time here filling and sanding. The good news is that you don’t have to be too concerned about the detail on 45e and 44e as they will be crudely covered in steps 9 and 10 (assuming you can get those covers to fit).
As bad as some other fit has been, the absolute worst fitting part of the whole experience is the engine exhaust assemblies to the fuselage to the Hover IR Suppression System. These assemblies are made up of 9 parts exclusive of the fuselage assembly they attach to. My suggestion is to begin by attaching part 48a to the fuselage aligning those parts properly and allowing the glue to cure. Then, attach the exhaust assemblies, using 48a to align the parts properly instead of just the fuselage. Then attach the remaining bottom portion of the HIRSS covers using the exhaust for alignment. Good luck and godspeed.
One point of relief I found is that the crew doors on both sides, including the two windows in each, fit perfectly needing very little work to pose in the open position. The crew chief windows in steps 9 and 10 were surprisingly the same. The absolute bright spot in the kit are the miniguns assembled in steps 10 and 11 insofar as they needed very little clean up, fit as they should, and look pretty nice when built (note: I did not build the dual .50cal crew weapon option as I, frankly, ran out of enthusiasm after hour 9 of a supposed “quick” build).
The final point I will mention is construction of the rotor. The rotor blades are molded with sag and that is a very nice touch. And, the blades only needed little more than scraping of mold lines to clean up. The kit has an option of making the blades fold-able. And, while that is very cool, the blades cannot actually fold completely due to the lack of articulation required to overlap them that exists on the real rotor head but not in kit plastic. Also, pay close attention to step 13 and test fit often as I inadvertently installed the blades upside down and had to modify the hub to invert it so the blades would sag with the direction of gravity.
In sum, this “quick” build took me over 9 hours to complete. That duration was not due to over-engineering, but because of the time required to clean up many parts, and to try to figure out how so many of the parts actually are supposed to fit without positive location as guides. All of that said, I might actually build this kit for myself as I think I can get very close to an MH-60L as used in Mogadishu for Gothic Serpent. Broadly, this would require building the kit without the internal fuel tanks, adding some crew seats and a fast rope bar, deleting the refueling probe, relocating the weather radar, and adding a FLIR. Beyond that, it will require many hours of scratch building to up the detail level, especially on the inside, but I actually think this kit could be the best option in 1/48 for a project of that kind.