|KIT:||Dragon 1/144 UH-60L Blackhawk|
|NOTES:||Box contains two complete kits|
Even non aviation buffs are likely to recognize the Black Hawk from the 2001 movie Black Hawk Down. Development of a successor to the UH-1 Iroquois began in the mid 1970s. Sikorsky and Boeing-Vertol competed to develop the machine that would be the replacement for the legendary ‘Huey’. Sikorsky’s S-70 design was chosen as the winner, and went into production as the UH-60A for the US Army in 1978. The UH-60L version, introduced in 1989, featured improved engines and the ability to mount the ESSS (External Stores Support System) wings to the fuselage, enabling the carriage of a variety of weapons or fuel tanks.
Today, over 2000 Black Hawks of various versions have been completed. Besides US military and governmental agencies, over 20 foreign users operate versions of the Black Hawk. Current development is focused on the UH-60M variant for the US Army, which would again have improved engines and avionics, including a digital ‘glass cockpit’ to replace analog gauges. This will ensure that the Black Hawk will remain a common sight for years to come.
When Dragon (DML) entered the hobby scene in 1994, besides 1/35 armor models that no one had tackled before, they also released a fairly extensive line of 1/144 modern fighter and attack aircraft. Although releases in the 1/144 Warbird Series have slowed down in recent years, there are still occasional new releases in the line. This double kit of the UH-60L is the most recent. Curiously, the box that features nice artwork of a pair of Black Hawks serving in Kosovo only mentions once in very small type that there are in fact 2 helicopters inside! It might help sales some if Dragon had made it clearer that there were in fact 2 kits inside, so this was a little odd.
Looking inside the box, the small 4 page instruction book gives 4 construction steps. The 2 large, identical main sprues of 30 parts are bagged together, providing the basic fuselage, rotor, and detail parts for one Black Hawk apiece. The moldings exhibit nice detail, without any defects or flash to be found. A couple of engine exhaust parts are grayed out on the instructions as not for use on this variant. The interior is nicely detailed for this scale, with seats and sticks in the cockpit, and seats in the troop compartment. A minor quibble would be that the small windows between the pilot doors and sliding doors are molded solid, although they could be carefully cut out and replaced by a product like Krystal-Klear. Also, no option is given to have door gun weapons.
2 smaller sprues of 6 parts each are bagged together; they provide the parts for the ESSS mounts and tanks. As an aside, they don’t really seem appropriate to the standard troop carrying Black Hawks given as options in the kit; these are usually seen on special ops versions.
Finally, 2 separate bags contain a small clear of sprue of 3 parts and a decal sheet in each. The clear parts are composed of the side sliding doors, and a one piece nose molding that includes the cockpit glass areas. The decal sheet provides 4 options – the box art 101st Air Assault Division US Army machine in Kosovo, a more generic 101st Air Assault machine, an Israeli Defense Force Black Hawk, and a Black Hawk from an unidentified US Army unit in Somalia, 1992. The instructions recommend Gunze FS 34087 green; Testors makes the US Army Helo Drab shade FS 34031. You may want to play with your shade of green some to allow for weathering and scale effect; the Helo Drab looks really dark on a model this small. Because of the separate packaging, the decal sheets are doubled up, meaning you can do 2 of the same chopper if you wanted to.
This looks to be a nice kit that should be fun. I am looking forward to tackling it soon. The parts are small, but it looks easy enough for anyone with a couple kits under their belt to tackle. The painting might be a little tricky to mask that all clear nose, or you could just paint that area by hand perhaps. Dragon is due to release any time now the US Air Force MH-60G Pave Hawk special ops version of the Black Hawk in 1/144 also.
Squadron Aircraft in Action #133 H-60 Black Hawk
Squadron Walk Around #19 UH-60 Black Hawk
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