|DECALS:||One option per kit|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Two complete kits with photo-etch|
The JMSDF chose SH-60B Seahawk as the successor of the Mitsubishi HSS-2A/B Sea King. The Japan Defense Agency acquired a S-70B-2 from Sikorsky for study in 1985. The Defense Agency was going to develop LAMPS Mk III for Japan, but it was declined by the United States, and most avionics sets were developed in the Technical Research and Development Institute. The Defense Agency ordered two XSH-60Js from Sikorsky for $27 million. Their first flight was in 31 August and October 1987. They were fitted with Japanese avionics systems and tested by the JMSDF.
The SH-60J is built in Japan under license from Sikorsky. It began deliveries in August 1991 and entered service thereafter. Based on a concept of the JMSDF, HQS-103 Dipping Sonar, HPS-104 Search Radar, and HLR-108 ESM System equipment of the avionics of SH-60B be different. It is a hybrid of SH-60B and SH-60F, except for avionics. The crew includes a pilot, copilot and sensor operator. The copilot can concentrate on the role of Tactical Coordinator with the help of the Automatic Flight Management System and Inertial Navigation system.
UH-60J is the utility/SAR version produced by Mitsubishi based on UH-60L Black Hawk. 35 built. Japan plans to order 70 of the improved UH-60JA Black Hawks. Several of these aircraft are used as shore based SAR helicopters under the designation UH-60J(SP) and are painted in two rather dark shades of blue.
This is the first time I've seen a Platz kit molded almost entirely of clear plastic. I can understand doing this for the fuselage, but am not sure why this was carried out to nearly all the rest of the kit. Anyway, once one is over the initial surprise of finding the kit in this 'color', it is very much like the rest of the Platz line of kits; superbly molded. Of course, you do get two full kits, which is what we have all come to expect from our 1/144 military aircraft buys. I found it interesting that these parts are provided in compartmentalized poly bags, something one almost never sees for an injected styrene kit. This is most often seen in resin kits. I'm sure it is done to prevent the clear plastic from being scratched and that is appreciated. There is a smaller sprue that contains flare dispensers and other small bits in standard plastic. There is also a small photo etch fret that includes mostly antennas and windscreen wipers.
This is a very well thought out helo kit. The nose section is separate from the rest of the fuselage and that allows the seam line to be on a normal panel line. There is a very fundamental cockpit that is basically seat backs on a floor/instrument panel part. Face it, in 1/144 it is not necessary to have a full blown cockpit as little will be seen. The prominent fuel tanks and pylons are some of the more prominent parts with very positive locators, as are all the other major parts.
The kit instructions are very well done and unfortunately for some of us, entirely in Japanese. They provide color references in Gunze, Tamiya and Model Master paints. There are also several notes about which I've no idea what they are referring. The main construct is an exploded view of the parts with a four view showing where some of the smaller photo etch bits are located. This latter set of drawings is very helpful. There are markings for two helos, the only difference being the serial number. Both are in a dark and medium blue scheme that is popular with the maritime crowd. The decals are very nicely printed and the placement guide is duplicated on the back of the box in full color. The sheet also includes the walk areas and the black surround to the nose section.
Those of you who like small scale military models will certainly be interested in this one, and it is a beauty.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. You can find this at your local shop or on-line retailer.
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