Italeri 1/48 UH-1H

KIT #: 849
PRICE: CAN$24.80
DECALS: two options
REVIEWER: Pablo Calcaterra
NOTES: Aerocalcas # 48022 used

HISTORY

Starting 1970, this famous helicopter was incorporated to the Argentine Army. With numbers AE-400 to AE-424, the last one was received in October 1978. Cruise speed is 204 km/h, can carry 10 soldiers and 2 machine guns in the doors, or 24 rockets in 2 rockets launchers. In the Aviation branch of the Army, there were part of the Assault Helicopters “A”, Batallon de Aviacion de Combate 601. 

On April 23, 1982 with several of the other choppers of the Batallon already in the Malvinas/Falklands Islands, four more Hueys were disassembled and were prepared to be taken by plane (Hercules belonging to the Air Force). These were AE-406, 417, 418 and 424. After a two-hour flight, they landed in the runway and immediately proceeded to push the 424 out of the Hercules TC-65. Immediately, mechanics and technicians of the Batallon proceeded to work to put them together again. The crew of AE-424 was Capt. Jorge “Picho” Svendsen, 1st Sgt Medina and 1st Corporal “Negro” San Miguel (gunner) and on April 29th the chopper was ready to fly again. Svendsen was in charge of B Flight.

The Command Post was located in Moody Brook and reserves were built in Mount Kent.

Into action:

Between May 3rd and 8th, the Hueys carried out approximately 18 transport and recce missions.

On May 15th, AE424 and AE-417 were sent to the San Carlos area to scout and look for possible British commandoes activities. The Special Forces team they were carrying found a Zodiac boat and signs of enemy activity in the area.

During a mission to carry weapons to the Argentine garrison in Darwin, two Pumas and two Hueys were ordered to land in a place different from the one they were used to. The reason: Harriers had dropped antipersonnel bombs. After refueling and under red alert with 3 contacts in the radar, the helicopter pilots decided to take off to return to their main base, following individual routes. It’s believed that the bad weather protected them from the Harriers.

May 21st, a day to remember

The Argentine dispersal area in Mount Kent was attacked by a couple of Harriers from 1 Sqn RAF (Pook and Hare) that destroyed Chinook AE-521 and Puma AE-501. AE-418 was damaged while taking off and was forced to land in emergency. Everyone with their small caliber guns was firing at the Harriers (Hare’s plane was damaged). Other helicopters in the dispersal were AE412 / 13 / 17 / 22 / 24 and were not touched. After the danger was over, they all flew back to the area of Moody Brook.

Once there, and with all the choppers dispersed in the area, Svendsen heard on the radio that an Argentine Navy Skyhawk A4-Q (3-A-312) was arriving in emergency. It was the sole survivor of the first 3-plane TABANO section that had seriously damaged HMS Ardent. Hit by the guns of a Sea Harrier and loosing fuel, Navy Lt. Jose Arca decided to try to land in the runway in Argentino/Stanley. But it was then discovered that one of the main landing gears was lost and he was therefore forced to bail out. Svendsen had helped on the radio to guide him to touch down. Arca ejected over land but the wind carried him out to the sea, where he landed approximately 800 to 1,000 meters away of the coast. Capt. Svendsen did not think it twice and took off to rescue the pilot from the freezing waters. While “Picho” was flying the helicopter, Sgt “Vinagre” Santana was controlling the gauges and 1st Corporal San Miguel was trying to get hold of Arca and get him into the chopper. As Arca had his survival jacket and could not move his arms, this approach proved to be impossible. After 15 minutes of failure, Arca removed his jacket/vest and Svendsen sunk the skis of the Huey in the sea. Standing on these, San Miguel was able to take Arca from the arms and in that position; they flew very low back to the coast, from where he was immediately taken to the Hospital. Arca later commented that what hurt him most was the pain of the hits in his face that San Miguel was giving him, to prevent him from falling asleep. But San Miguel was following the orders to keep Arca awake, given by Svendsen.

For his action on this date, Svendsen and San Miguel were decorated with the medal issued by the Argentine Congress to Bravery in Combat.

On May 26th AE-412 / 13 / 22 and 24, led by Svendsen in 424 took off to the Douglas Paddock area (20 km. away from San Carlos) to retrieve the Combat Team Guemes, who had been walking for 3 days after trying to fight off the landings in San Carlos on the 21st. This team had managed to defend themselves by shooting down two helicopters and damaged another one that had the mission to capture them. 1st Corporal San Miguel saw the movement of people beneath them, after they had flown the area without finding anyone. The team led by 1st Lt. Carlos Esteban thought originally that they were British helicopters looking for them and were hiding.

May 28th: with the British paratroopers closing in on Darwin-Goose Green, a mission to reinforce the Argentine troops was ordered. One Puma (AE-508), Two Augustas (AE-334-331), six UH (AE-424 /22 / 18 / 17 /13 / 12) and one Chinook (H-93 Argentine Air Force) took the troops. These were forced to land a little bit away from their original destination due to the intensive enemy fire. Once in flight and returning to Argentino/Stanley, they received a request to take some injured soldiers back with them. So Svendsen (with Moreira and San Miguel), supported by Augusta AE-334 (Lt Florio and 1st Corporal Cravero) went back. Under fire again, they were able to rescue a NCO and four soldiers. For this rescue, Svendsen’s crew received again the same medal from the Congress (Bravery in combat)

May 29th: AE-424 with Svendsen took commandos to Mount Simmons. In the afternoon, they retrieved commandos from the area of Big Mountain, flying along with AE-424 (Lt Fernandez). As soon as they landed, they were warned about the presence of enemy helicopters. As it was almost night, both Hueys took off and after passing Mount Kent, with the lights of the town already in sight, Fernandez shouted on the radio: “To the ground, Picho!” Svendsen made such a violent maneuver that the commandos hit themselves with the roof of the chopper and San Miguel lost his machine gun (nicknamed Clotilde), which fell from the support. Flying very low a British helicopter passed by firing his guns. Fernandez was also chased for some minutes but as they got close to the town, the British left them alone.

June 5th: A nocturne mission to make the British believe that they were taking troops to some hills. At 21:15 Svendsen took off in AE-424 with 1st Lt. Perez Cometto and Corporal San Miguel. They saw some enemy helicopters in the Mount Kent area. While Perez was watching some enemy vehicles using his night vision goggles, they were ordered to return immediately as some enemy choppers had been detected flying from the North in their direction. 

On June 6th, AE-424 / 18 and 22 took commandos behind the enemy lines in the Murrell Bridge area. Under fire, they were able to rescue some Argentine Navy Marines that had repelled an attack of the SAS.

Between June 8th and the 9th the Hueys repositioned several troops in hills and the coastline.

On June 11th, a second machine gun was installed on the other door of AE-424.

June 13th: AE-424 flew between 3.00 and 3.40 am to coordinate the fire of the Argentine guns, but at that moment the British ceased firing so the crew was unable to pinpoint the location of the enemy guns (west side of Mount Challenger).

After the cease-fire on the 14th, the six surviving Hueys were taken to the racetrack; among those, UH-424. Svendsen took injured soldiers to the Argentine Hospital Ship Irizar.

On June 15th, Svendsen now flying for the first time AE-409, was authorized by the British to look for stranded and injured soldiers. But the bad weather conditions prevented them from completing their mission.

AE-424 was one of the Hueys captured in flying condition by the British troops. “Picho” Svendsen retired from the Argentine Army with the grade of Lt. Colonel.

THE KIT

 This is the first helicopter I have ever built (and I don’t think I will ever again. It’s not that they don’t look nice and are easy to build…it’s just that I am not very interested in the subject!)

 The Italieri kit has parts for several alternative configurations. Using pictures from several websites and the Argentine references (see below), I was able to put together AE-424 as accurate as I was able to do.

CONSTRUCTION

 Cockpit:

The interior of the cockpit goes together very well. The only considerations are that the armrests are too wide and therefore I had to cut out some plastic of the already painted seats. The locating pins don’t fit either.

The Italieri instructions state that the cockpit is all light gray FR35237 but later on I found that the all the frontal side (pilot doors, for instance) are black. Too late for my kit 

Another difference is that, looking at a picture and video I found in Internet, the seats for the troops face forward instead of backwards (per Italieri instructions). At least, this is the configuration for the Argentine Hueys. 

Red was used here and there to highlight some details, along with dry brushed silver and Future for the dials. 

Fuselage:

Some putty and sanding are required in some unions (not very good, in fact, in the area around the engine) but nothing critical.

The sliding doors were put in place with big blobs of BluTac. This I did for them to protect the interior while painting, and it was easy to remove the doors after this operation was finished.

COLORS & MARKINGS

With all the windows masked, I sprayed the kit with MM Acryl 4728. Then the yellow ID band applied to all Argentine flying machines in the Theater was painted on.

Decals:

The ones from Aerocalcas give you all what you need for the Argentine Hueys. The only detail is that I found a picture of Svendsen along a Huey and the badge on the door of the pilot was painted in colors, instead of being a black outline as supplied by Aerocalcas.  

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

Some rust pastel was applied to the engine exhaust.

 I added the rotating blades, painted the position lights and with fishing thread (painted in aluminum) I painted the wires on the right side of the tail to finish this famous Huey.

CONCLUSIONS

The Italieri kit shows its years but it’s fun to build. It took me one month to finish this very important subject in the History of the Argentine Military Aviation.

REFERENCES

Angeles sobre la Turba (Antonio Falcon)

Falklands Air War (Hobson)

A4-Q (Nunez Padin)

Pablo Calcaterra

January 2010

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