For years I have had the desire to build a U.S. Coast Guard MH-60J, but just couldn’t convince myself to buy all of the resin conversion parts needed or, God forbid, do some real modeling and do some scratch building. A very good friend of mine, Dave Riley, was a rescue swimmer for the Coast Guard at the Coast Guard Aviation Center in Mobile, before a mysterious bacterial infection turned him into a quad amputee. He took me through the aviation facility and I got to crawl all over the MH-60’s with my camera blazing away. I now knew I had to model one of these unique helicopters with its bright blue interior and red bags and baskets filling every bit of the interior. Along comes Skunk Model Workshop with an HH-60J. The fact that it is a re-boxed Italeri HH-60 with some new trees thrown in makes no difference; it’s all there. Well, almost.
The end opening box has a picture of an actual HH-60J, and the reverse side is a four-view detailed painting guide that also includes the main rotor blades and tail rotor blades. Inside the box are the three gray plastic trees and one clear tree that make up the original Italeri kit, plus a clear tree that includes both pilot doors, two auxiliary fuel tanks and a new stub wing for mounting the tanks. There’s a small, light gray tree that contains the radome and new aft cabin top. Two photo etch sheets made by Eduard, one in color and one plain, give you all you need to detail the cockpit area and make the recovery basket and an avionics console on the left cargo compartment wall. The decal sheet, which allows you to model one aircraft from San Diego, CA, One from Kodiak, AK, and two different aircraft from Clearwater, FL, is printed by Cartograf. They are in perfect register, with crisp, dense colors and almost no clear edge film. The instruction sheet for the kit has Skunkmodels Workshop on the top of the first two pages and is followed by six pages that are directly from the old Italeri kit and one page that shows some of the interior photo etch installation detail. The exact same pictures are included on the photo etch instructions that are labeled as Kinetic Model Kits. A nice bonus is a heavy card helipad that can be put in a picture frame or be glue to a wooden base that can be used for a display platform.
The painting guides throughout the kit instruction sheet are confusing, because the paint listing gives the numbers for Gunze Sanyo Mr. Color enamel and aqueous paints, but the instruction sheet shows alphabetic color listings left over from Italeri’s style of listing for Model Master paints. So, you have to use your references throughout to get things right, or have an old Italeri instruction sheet. And, you really need to have pictures of the interiors and rotor blades of the particular aircraft you are modeling, due to some non-standard color combinations. As I stated in the introduction, Mobile’s aircraft cabin walls are a bright blue, with a light gray floor and an all black cockpit.
The new clear tree allows you to open both crew doors, and if you choose this option, you must make a repair to the right side pilot’s floor. For some reason, it does not come all the way to the cabin side, so a small piece of plastic sheet needs to be inserted before joining the fuselage halves, or you will be looking all the way down inside the floor of the aircraft nose.
The cabin of a Coast Guard helicopter, as I stated, is very busy. The configurations vary, but there are at least two crew seats in the rear and several vertical racks to store all of the various cables, flashlights, kits, etc. that are carried on the aircraft. I took the other seats that are in the kit and modified them for the aft cabin.
I know we are supposed to build model kits as they come from the manufacturer, but I just couldn’t make myself do it. I would have to do some scratch building to make the cabin look correct, but it would be nothing major.
More to follow.