Academy 1/48 HH-46D Sea Knight
KIT #: ?
PRICE:  £35.99 MSRP
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard


The CH-46 Sea Knight is a USN, USMC carrier borne helicopter having  tandem contrarotating rotors powered by two GE T58 turboshaft engines. The engines are mounted on each side of the rear rotor pedestal with a driveshaft to the forward rotor. The engines are coupled so either could power both rotors in an emergency. The rotors feature three blades and can be folded for on-ship operations.

The CH-46 has a cargo bay with a rear loading ramp that could be removed or left open in flight for extended cargo or for parachute drops. An internal winch is mounted in the forward cabin and can be used to pull external cargo on pallets into the aircraft via the ramp and rollers. A belly sling hook (cargo hook) which is usually rated at 10,000 lb (4,500 kg). could be attached for carrying external cargo. Although the hook is rated at 10,000 lb (4,500 kg)., the limited power produced by the engines preclude the lifting of such weight. It usually has a crew of three, but can accommodate a larger crew depending on mission specifics. For example, a Search and Rescue variant will usually carry a crew of five (Pilot, Co-Pilot, Crew Chief, Swimmer, and Medic) to facilitate all aspects of such a mission. A pintle-mounted 0.50 in (12.7 mm) Browning machine gun is mounted on each side of the helicopter for self-defense. Service in southeast Asia resulted in the addition of armor with the guns.

The CH-46 has fixed tricycle landing gear, with twin wheels on all three units. The gear configuration causes a nose-up stance to facilitate cargo loading and unloading. The main gear are fitted in rear sponsons that also contain fuel tanks with a total capacity of 350 US gallons (1,438 L).

Operational History


Known colloquially as the "Phrog", and used in all Marine combat and peacetime environments since its introduction. Still regularly flown by the Marine Corps, its longevity as a reliable airframe has led to such mantras as "phrogs phorever" and "never trust a helicopter under 30".

CH-46E Sea Knights were used by the USMC during its 2003 invasion if Iraq. CH-46Es transported personnel, brought supplies to forward arming and refueling points (FARP), carried ammunition and various tasks. Marine CH-46Es and CH-53Es carried US Army Rangers and Special Operations troops in a mission to extract captured Army Private Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi hospital on 1 April 2003.

 While the United States Navy retired the airframe on September 24, 2004, replacing it with the MH 60S Nighthawks the Marine Corps plans to maintain its fleet until the MV-22 is fully fielded. In March 2006 Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263 (HMM-263) was deactivated and redesignated VMM-263 to serve as the first MV-22 squadron. The replacement process is expected to continue through the other medium helicopter squadrons into 2014.



Academyís CH/HH-46D kit consists of accurately moulded parts with a precisely fitted interior forming the cabin walls. The latter was integrally moulded rib structure and is complete with the equipment fitted at various localities against the fuselage walls. The instructions come in as an A4 Booklet of 12 pages of detail steps, which are easy to follow. Construction is well illustrated and detail colouring, decal positioning and suggestions for alternative parts are clearly marked.. The kit represents a complicated helicopter of impressive size and much engineering work has gone into it to ensure a perfect fit so that there is little, if any, need for filler. The kit has five sprues of grey plastic and one in clear plastic, all neatly packed in separate plastic bags. Two large decal sheets are similarly packed.     



Construction is carried in a number of steps. Step 1 starts with the assembly of the rotor heads with all the intricate parts they contain. Step 2 to 7 then involve the cabin interior and a quantity of tiny decal positioning. Unfortunately, the interior is only partially visible, even when the starboard door and ramp are left open. Step 8 covers the cockpit, including the positioning of the three instrument panels. Having had the opportunity to study Sea Knights on several occasions during visits on Kearsarge, Wasp and Iwo Jima,, I can only say that the kitís cockpit really does depict  that of a Seaknight in miniature. Step 10 is devoted to the exterior of the helicopter and contains several close-up photographs of the real aircraft. In both steps 8 and 11 there are details and illustrations of four open and closed ramp variations, complete with close-up photographs of the engine exhausts, loud speakers (HH version) and undercarriage detail.

 I made the following observations during construction. In step 7 the colour of the floor is indicated as 317 (grey FS 36231) and in step 3 the inner walls are also in 317. However, my observations indicate that the walls are lighter shade of grey, in fact in step 7 includes two photographs that show a colour contrast between the two areas. In step 9 the engine exhaust part is labelled B2; it should read B25.

 If the cabin side seats are fitted in the down position one should make sure that the protruding rectangular pegs at the back of the fuselage side panels are filed flush so that they do not foul the fuselage side. Seat belts and straps are added, as was window netting. The kit includes detail roof panelling complete cross ribbing. This runs from the rear of the cockpit to a point just above the ramp hinge. It leaves the rear part of the roof partially incomplete so that the joint in the fuselage halves beneath the vertical tail unit is visible in the event that the ramp is left in the open position. I therefore continued the ceiling piece with a ribbed plastic card. The small exhaust, B16, fitted to the side of the front fuselage upper panel. The exhausts at the very rear of the fuselage were drilled out to a larger bore in order to give a more realistic thin annular section.

 Photographs show the large searchlight fitted under the fuselage in front of the ĎUí shaped antenna, as opposed to the position indicated in stage 10 on the instructions. A cable was also added to the rear of the light. Plumbing detail was added to the upper part of the bracket holding the winch using stretched sprue, while a small square panel was fitted at the base of the same bracket. The hook and weigh were also missing. The hook was made from a shaped metal pin while the flanged weight fitted on top of the hook was made from a round, thin section of sprue. A 0.4 mm diameter hole was drilled at the base of the winch, H18, and the hook and weight inserted to appear as shown in the box art and photographs.

 The rotor assembly is highly detailed yet by reference to the box art and close-up photographs that I took, additional detail can be added to the rotor head. This was made out of crossed over stretched sprue. A rectangular air intake was added to the port fuselage side. This was made from plastic cut to shape.

The final pages of instructions describe decal placement in great detail. One cannot rush through the decaling stage since it is easy to miss several decals out and there are only one or two items that I could not locate on the instructions.





Decals are provided for a three-tone grey CH-46, which carries a US, flag decal draped around its forward fuselage. This scheme is depicted in the box art and represents the armed CH-46D. The kit includes detailed door guns for this version, although their barrels need to be drilled. The guns are mounted on a base, which allows them to swing in any direction when placed on the model. There are markings for two colourful HH-46s in an engine grey and bright red/orange colour scheme. These are shore based at Kaneohe Bay and Point Mugu. I chose to model the latter. Finally, there are decals for an overall engine grey CH-46D. I went a step further with my model and added side floatation bags that I have noted on the greater majority of HH-46Ds Iíve seen. I presumed that Navy HH-46Ds operated from shore bases were similarly equipped, as, in fact, Iíve seen in photographs.


For the exterior finish of the model I used model Master Fluorescent Red-Orange (SG) No 28914 and Blue Gray RAL 7021 No 1522, with black for engine exhaust area. The model was finished with a coat of Humbrol satin varnish. Note that at the time I was short of ĎJohnsonís Klearí and the silvering on some of the decals can be evident.





The kit builds into an impressive Sea Knight model and shows just what can be achieved from a superbly engineered tooling. The parts fit perfectly and the result is a true scale replica. It is highly recommended to those interested in current military helicopters or US Navy types.



Carmel J. Attard

January 2011

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