Artistic me: Punny.
Apathetic me: More like, punful. You know? Like painful, but not.
Sports Fanatic me: Fail.
Normal me: Yep. Now back to business. What have we this time?
Nerdy me: A real treat, only the second helicopter James has done in the last…long time. Third if you count the 1/72 scale AH-64 he built when he was little.
Normal me: Well, we typically don’t count those anyway.
Nerdy me: True. Well, here we go, ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy, one and all.
Nerdy me: Today’s feature is the Bell H-13 Sioux helicopter, a development of the civil Bell 47.
Artistic me: Were all US helicopters named for Native American tribes?
Nerdy me: For the most part, yes. There are a few exceptions, but that is the prevailing scheme. The H-13 is easily recognizable due to two features. First is the bubble canopy that provided exceptional visibility…
Apathetic me: …but pathetic protection in combat…
Nerdy me: …and the second is the open frame tail boom. It achieved significant popular recognition for its role in the series M*A*S*H as the primary medivac vehicle of the US forces in Korea.
Apathetic me: Nevermind the fact that the series lasted eight years (and eight Christmas episodes) longer than the war it portrayed…
Nerdy me: Yeeeeaaaahhhh. Anyway, the model kit in question is a Revell 1/35 scale H-13H. An uncommon scale, to be sure, but definitely a good idea for this particular vehicle, due to its diminutive size. We’d mention the year the kit was produced, but James isn’t at home so he can’t check.
As you can see, these are the various pieces. Not too many, but enough to cause the project to last a fair amount of time.
Step one involved assembling the main frame, skids, and tail assembly. Thankfully, the boom was a single piece as opposed to a bunch of small pieces you’d have to put together like a balsa-wood bridge or something. That would be maddening, but certainly raise the difficulty level.
Normal me: Looks like it’s half done already.
Nerdy me: Not really, there’s a lot more to be done, believe it or not. The frame may be the most identifiable part, but certainly not the most critical part. Moving on to step two, as you can see already from the above picture, the battery case and oil tanks are assembled. They were rather nondescript about the paint colour for the oil tank, so James went ahead and made it olive drab. This step caused a minor bit of consternation, actually. James’ spatial perception skills were a bit off, possibly as a result of the paint fumes, so there were some cases of “put it on, take it off, rebuild it, put it on, take it off, turn it, etc.”
Step three was where things got a bit more interesting, and frustrating. The engine assembly wasn’t the smoothest step, considering the fact that the halves of the engine block didn’t fit each other too well, and the other small pieces required fingers the size of toothpicks to manoeuvre into place. Still, task accomplished.
That steel paint took a lot longer than usual to dry. Still, better than that stupid silver. Anyway, on to step four. Here we add more parts to the engine, such as the exhaust (which also was a bugger to put in place) and the plenum, which I don’t quite know the use for on this vehicle, since James isn’t a rotorcraft specialist, his classes stick mainly to spacecraft. An educated guess would say that the plenum is used for distributing pressurized gas, though we’re not quite sure where to…
Also added in that step was the radiator. The plenum actually required nudging the battery case around a few times before it would fit. Sometimes James wishes more kits included aircraft interiors. Then he remembers this. On to step five, though. Finally time to build the cockpit. This step took longer than most, comprised of six separate subcomponents or assemblies.
Artistic me: If I may add, good sir, the pilot was significantly easier to paint in this kit, mainly due to his size. No, I mean he’s…his scale…he’s a 1/35 scale, not 1/48…oh nevermind.
Nerdy me: Well, I understand what you mean if no one else does. At any rate, here is the finished cockpit in all of its glossy clear glory.
Artistic me: In a totally unrelated note, the compilation film “That’s Entertainment” was on at the time James built this part. For any fans of musicals, check it out. It’s worth watching.
Nerdy me: Yes, well, back to the business at hand. Step six was a bit of a problem. The fuel tanks didn’t really have any good place to sit on the frame, so James had to hold them in place for an ungodly amount of time, and the upper frame and rotor shaft fit a bit too snugly for their own good and kept popping out. In the end, it all worked out, though.
Apathetic me: A bit dark, that picture, and a bit rough, those tanks.
Nerdy me: Oh buzz, buzz. Anyway, as you can see, the kit is really coming together at this point. Step seven was the armament assembly, but since James preferred to do the M*A*S*H version, he forewent that step and kept the pieces in their trays, stowed in a drawer in case he ever changes his mind. Technically, James also skipped step eight, but he came back to that one, we assure you. Instead, he plowed ahead and put on the rotors, just to see how it looked so far, without any mission-specific components.
Focus was a bit sharp in on the rotor, and I apologize for that. But you get the basic idea. The paint scheme for the helicopter itself is done by now, simply waiting on the casualty litters and decals. Which, incidentally, the litters are up next for addition. Remember how I mentioned the silver paint was awful? Yes, this is the step it was awful for.
Normal me: Best shot yet.
Nerdy me: I know, right? Anyway, there you have it. Assembly completed…though none of the paints James used on the litters were any good. Tamiya dark yellow and anyone’s silver are just God-awful. Last step, though, add the decals and put it up for some good shots.
Nerdy me: I just want to say, the red decals on the tail rotor frame were a pain to put on. James would have almost rather painted them as opposed to trying to get them to cooperate. Anyway, as with all other aircraft (excluding his ridiculously heavy B-58 Hustler), James went ahead and hung it, as you shall see here.
Artistic me: James naturally went with the M*A*S*H scheme, but he had several other options. There was the OH-13S Gunship, OH-13H Weapons Testbed, and the OH-13H Arctic/Desert/Jungle Scheme. That one would have been a particularly interesting one to look at…but it would have required that the frame be painted white, and trying to paint dark plastic white rarely ends well.
Nerdy me: Quite so. The actual directions can be found here in PDF format: http://manuals.hobbico.com/rmx/85-5313.pdf
Sports Fanatic me: Was it a fun build, though? And would you recommend it to others?
Nerdy me: Oh, definitely. It was certainly a fun one to put together, and on the whole, any problems with parts could be overcome without too much difficulty (comparatively) resulting in a quality-looking model that earns its place in the pantheon of James’ model kits.
Normal me: Hope you enjoyed this overview of that project. It’s been just over a month since this one was put together, and two others were assembled in the mean time, with several more to go. Those ones will have their own dedicated write-ups in time, so stay tuned. Ciao, all.