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**FINISHED** Marines UH-34D Spacecraft recovery heli

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    In my latest biz trip I found a nice hobby shop in El Paso Texas of all places and this followed me home.

Revell UH-34D helicopter in 1/48.   This model dates back from the '60s and it is a bit crude by today's standards but it is going to be a fun build. 

I will build it as the Liberty Bell 7 recovery helicopter piloted by Jim Lewis.  The famous spacecraft that sank in the Atlantic in July 1961 after taking the second american and third person in history (Gus Grissom) to space.   The hatch exploded prematurely and the capsule filled with sea water. The helicopter lost the battle trying to recover it.  Grissom was rescued by another helicopter.


After careful consideration, I'd attempt to build the interior after the fuselage is glued so seams can be addressed.

Started working the seams.  Still not done but progressing.


After the seams are worked I'll start working the extremely shallow panel lines.



Edited by ismaelg
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Good start!  That Revell H-34 kit disappeared for many years, and turned into Unobtainium before they finally reissued it a few years ago.

If you have the urge to do another H-34, or if anyone else would like a newer version...not too long ago, a new company named Gallery Models issued H-34 kits in several different versions.  I think the "Gallery" name is already gone and MRC is releasing them now.

Some of the kits have different options, like early/late landing gear. I picked up the "Operation Deep Freeze" version, which even has 2 different fuselages in the same box. 

Here's a Cybermodeler review and a pic.  One thing Gallery Models sure knew how to do: great box art!




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Mike, that looks good!

OK,  I may be on to something here:
Paint sourcing is a pain for me. Nothing available locally. Last hobby shop closed over a decade ago. I have to buy everything by mail. Paint is particularly tricky to air mail. Not to mention expensive. So I can end up paying about $10 and wait a month for a little bottle of paint to arrive.
For this project it occurred to me: What about the paint dept. at Home Depot? Long story short, I spent about an hour with the paint guy and he was very enthusiastic and curious about this. We went thru the color samples and compared to online pictures. Yes, we were aware of screen differences. We decided that LANCO 4K3-8 SPLIT PEA green was the closest to the olive drab I was looking for. So he prepared me a quart of rust fighting enamel (cheapest alternative to Rust-oleum) so it can be thinned and airbrushed.
The quart was $8
This will be enough for a whole army of probably hundreds of models as I'll be using maybe an ounce or so. Before you ask, I'd love to mail some to you but the post office will not let me.  But feel free to drop by and take some!


So I did this little test.

It airbrushed beautifully and since it is somewhat glossy, decals should work well and dullcoat on top would take it to the finish line.

Here I did another experiment: This damaged car body was sprayed with aluminum paint from a spray can and then airbrushed the green on top.


Yep!  I think I'm on to something here... and the model will not rust :)


Edited by ismaelg
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What part of "A simple build" I didn't understand?  Round is supposed to be round. Injection molding is not. Brass rod IS.


The rotor is a helicopter's signature. Adding blade pitch links made of wire. At the end, the rotor itself will be a 16 piece sub-assembly! Of course it needs additional painting.
This is tiny even for a "bigger" scale like 1/48



Added material to the sides to force the fuselage out a few mm or so

Added bracing to the top cowls to help panel alignment The metal tape will help conceal the huge gap. Will eventually add rivet details to disguise it.


and added material to the rotor base for a tighter fit.


Seems to be moving along!



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Nice chopper! I may be wrong, but does the helicopter come with an engine in the nose, and isn't it a Pratt&Whitney radial? As I mentioned elsewhere, my Dad used to sell Pratt engine parts, and I think this aircraft used one of Pratt's radials. Really like this build . Looks Fun.

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Thank you Spike!

The model is a "curbside" and only has the exhaust.  These helicopters used the 9 cylinder Wright R-1820 Cyclone radial engine putting out 1525 HP.  I believe this was the last piston engined chopper to be in military service.


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  You didn't think for a moment that I was going to trust my tail rotor to some wimpy unbalanced plastic shaft, did you?

Brass shaft. Added a sleeve inside the housing so the shaft can be installed AFTER both housing parts are glued together.





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And we have COLOR!
First coat of color.  However, this paint will take a long time to dry.  I airbrushed it over 4 hours ago and it is still very tacky, almost wet. But it looks good so far.  Almost complete coverage but it still needs more paint.

This pic reminds me of a bass  :)




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Regardless of subject or type of paint, airbrushing is such an enjoyable experience for me! It is my therapy. Love it!
 Will let it dry for a few days before inspecting and deciding if more is still needed.  I hope this is the last coat of paint.



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  • 2 weeks later...

A long time ago I was a crew chief on a UH-34D . It was a great helo and was known for its overall reliability and an ability to take a lot of punishment in combat and still fly you home.On most models of this bird I have noticed the tail rotor blades are backwards.See below for correct position.UH-34D_of_HMM-362_in_Vietnam_c1968.JPG

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Happy Easter everybody!

Thanks guys!  There has been significant progress in this build. I need to update this thread as I've been updating it elsewhere.   

That's a great picture of the bird.  Is that the Ugly Angels Marines squadron?  Vietnam: 65-69?

and yes, the instructions are misleading and just plain incorrect in many ways.  


**EDIT**   You can see the up to date progress in this thread:



Edited by ismaelg
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  • 2 weeks later...


  Sorry I didn't update this thread frequently.   But it is officially FINISHED!

A little background history: (This is what the scale 4 ft sign says)

July 21 1961

Mercury Redstone 4

Gus Grissom became the second American and third human in space. The capsule, Liberty Bell 7 could not be recovered due to premature hatch explosion, flooding the capsule. Pilot Jim Lewis fought to save it but the flooded capsule weighted too much for his overloaded UH-34D helicopter. The capsule sank to the bottom of the ocean while astronaut Grissom was rescued by another helicopter. The capsule was recovered in 1999 and Lewis was part of that expedition.

My story:
I bought airframe #148765 and restored it to how it looked on that day.  I fly it frequently so that's why it is in different positions in the pictures as these were taken over the course of many days.  This hangar is behind the wall where I keep the cars.  The 4ft (scale) tall  plaque is a print of one of the famous pictures of this incident with a brief description.

The model:  1/48 Revell kit.  I was pleasantly surprised for a mold that is over 50 years old. Instructions are misleading and incorrect in some areas, some of the gaps are big and the glass is very thick, but overall it was a pleasant kit.  Of course I did plenty of modifications, the winch been my favorite. I have to say this is my best helicopter effort to date.  There are 3 big issues with this model that drive me nuts and stick out like sore thumbs.  I did my best to hide those flaws in the pictures.  Other than that, there are some minor "accuracy" issues but in the grand scheme of things I am very happy.  After all this model will never leave my house anyways.  When you are willing to show pictures of your models at bigger than 1:1 magnification, you are happy with it.

I hope you like it.
















What do you think?


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  • 1 month later...
On 3/19/2020 at 8:28 PM, ismaelg said:

What part of "A simple build" I didn't understand?  

Quote of the year right there. Time and again I yank out a kit for a "simple" build and before I know it there is a list of modifications that need doing to bring the model up to my expectations.

Terrific work on the helo. It looks very authentic and would get a lot of attention on any contest table.

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