Hasegawa Bell 206 Jet Ranger

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $.99 on evil-bay
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Zac Yates
NOTES: Very simple kit

HISTORY

The Bell 206A was a much-redesigned version of the YOH-4, an unsuccessful contender for the US Armyís Light Observation Helicopter competition won by the Hughes YOH-6. The 206A JetRanger was launched at the Helicopter Association of Americaís convention in 1966 as a five-place light commercial helicopter for transport and cargo duties with greater cargo space than the original 206/YOH-4. The type was later modified further into the 206B with modified tail rotor and more powerful engine, with the ultimate 206B-3 JetRanger II still in widespread use today. The military OH-58 Kiowa eventually won over the Hughes OH-6 and remains operational with the US Army in its much-modified OH-58D Kiowa Warrior form.

For many years it was used as a police and newsgathering aircraft, being seen constantly on television and in films, however since the mid 1990s it has been increasingly superceded by the Aerospatiale AS350 series. The JetRanger remains one of the most produced light helicopters and is still very popular today. In New Zealand alone there are still 47 on the civil register performing all sorts of jobs from passenger charter to crop spraying.

THE KIT

I have the feeling the Hasegawa Coin Series was all of the same box size, so the kits are box-scale as a result. A site found while trying to research this kit lists it as 1/81, another states 1/87, and yet another suggests 1/92 so Iíve no clue as to whatís right. I donít have any Bell 206 plans to measure against but this certainly is smaller than my Italeri 1/72 OH-58A.

This model represents an early JetRanger with short skids, as opposed to the high/ĒutilityĒ skids more common on the type today. The outline is pretty spot-on but Iím not sure about some of the accuracy of panel lines. The exhausts are moulded on the fuselage halves and the air intakes are solid without any opening. Perhaps these are too small to be opened, but the dedicated modeller will no doubt find a way to open these.

The windscreen is the only clear part, with the side windows being left open (perhaps the modeller can use some clear plastic sheet to fill this in) and the lower nose transparencies being moulded solid as part of the fuselage halves! There are lines to delineate these transparencies from the rest of the nose, but the central framing is very, very faint. Crafty masking would help here, or the brave can cut out these parts and mould their own clear parts.

A very sparse interior is supplied, consisting of a floor with the two front seats moulded on. There are no bulkheads, rear seats or flight controls, and the instrument panel is part of the fuselage halves. There is a solid sill around the panel to allow for the panel halves to be part of the fuse, but with a bit of work one could easily make this look a bit more like the real thing.

The horizontal stabilisers are a single part which slot into the underside of the tailboom, and the vertical is a similar story (this even features the skid at the extreme bottom). The tail and main rotors are ok for this scale, but the main rotor mast is moulded oddly. The mast is moulded solid onto the left fuselage half which means that, if one builds the kit into an accurate replica, the rotor must be perpendicular to the fuselage. Normally when a JetRanger is at rest the rotor is parallel to the fuselage to take up less space, so some minor surgery is needed if the modeller wishes to replicate this. And yes....I have thought about this long and hard!

My kit didnít come with decals....or a box....but a friend of mine had given me most of a JetRanger kit and it included Los Angeles Police Department decals, which are probably too yellowed to be of use now but likely a good fit for the model.

CONCLUSIONS

This is a very simple kit, ideal for a ďspeed-buildĒ or a very small diorama if one has the patience and dedication to detail it. Despite its simplicity the outline is pretty darned close to the original helicopter, so it is hard to fault it. With a little work it can be a great little replica of a near-legendary design. Otherwise, it still looks like a JetRanger!

By the time I went to bed the night I received this kit, the airframe was complete apart from rotors and canopy. I decided to do a quick out-of-the-box build rather than detail it, as the kit can still be had on eBay fairly easily. And itís great fun! 

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_206

Zac Yates

January 2011

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