|PRICE:||around $9-10.00 second hand|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The MD Helicopters MH-6 Little Bird (nicknamed the Killer Egg), and its attack variant AH-6, are light helicopters used for special operations in the United States Army. Originally based on a modified OH-6A, it was later based on the MD 500E, with a single five-bladed main rotor. The newest version, the MH-6M, is based on the MD 530F and has a single, six-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor.
The OH-6 was started in 1960, when the U.S. Army issued Technical Specification 153 for a Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) that could perform personnel transport, escort and attack missions, casualty evacuation, and observation. Twelve companies took part in the competition and Hughes Tool Company's Aircraft Division submitted the Model 369. Two designs, those submitted by Fairchild-Hiller and Bell, were selected as finalists by the Army-Navy design competition board, but the Army later included the helicopter from Hughes as well.
The first Model 369 prototype flew on 27 February 1963. Originally designated the YHO-6A under the army's designation system, the aircraft was redesignated the YOH-6A under the Department of Defense's new joint system in 1962. Five prototypes were built, each fitted with a 252 shp (188 kW) Allison T63-A-5A engine, and delivered to the U.S. Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama to compete against the other 10 prototype aircraft submitted by Bell and Fairchild-Hiller. In the end, Hughes won the competition and the Army awarded a contract for production in May 1965. The initial order was for 714 aircraft, but that was later increased to 1,300 with an option to buy another 114. Seventy helicopters were built in the first month.
This agile, unarmed helicopter is outfitted with outboard "benches" designed to ferry up to three commandos on each side. There is also a gunship variant, the AH-6. Some are painted black for nighttime operations, this small aircraft can conduct rapid insertions and extractions of special operations forces into areas its larger brother, the MH-60 Black Hawk, cannot.
Academy has done other variants of this helicopter, all of them the later T tail variant. I looked at a lot of photos to see if I could find an MH-6 outfitted like the one on the box art and could not find a single image with the rocket launchers as shown. Nor could I find one with the type of nose mounted sensor that is provided in this kit. In addition, the rocket pod is unlike any in the images. Now I'm not saying that this configuration never existed, but I'm thinking prototype or manufacturer's initial concept. This suspicion is further enhanced by no markings save the instrument panel decal.
Fortunately you can build the model without these bits. The kit comes with a pretty complete cockpit with cyclic and foot pedals, but like so many older helo kits has no collective. Two crew members are included to help fill the cockpit In the cabin there are no seats, just what looks like an additional fuel cell. There is not much room for weight , but you should be able to squeeze sufficient under the floor to keep it on its skids.
The clear bits are tinted amber, with some fitting from the inside and some from the outside. Both the main and tail rotor assemblies look pretty good for this scale. After all, even in 1/48, it isn't a large aircraft. the main skids are the tall ones. There are some antennas that attach to the underside of the boom and Academy provides drawings for the proper placement of these.
Instructions are well done and provide your color information in generic terms. As mentioned, the lone decal is for the main instrument panel.
This kit is obviously the result of producing a kit prior to the definitive version being out or using what you have and hoping no one will notice. As such, you cannot really do a proper MH-6. However, these helos are widely used by other nations and one would think that there would be aftermarket decals available.
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