UH-60L Blackhawk

Published: February 14th, 2012     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Tom Pope, IPMS# 47261
Scale: 1/144
Company: Dragon Models
Price: $9.95
Product / Stock #: DRA 4578

Introduction

Many of us grew up building the many versions and scales of the utility helicopter of the time - the Bell UH-1 Iroquois of the "Huey" family.  Those first flew in 1956 and over 16,000 of them were produced starting in 1960.  "Utility" was the key word.  They've been used for everything from search and rescue and medical evac to gunships and forward air control to fire fighting and much, much, more.  A real workhorse!

Any replacement was going to have some big shoes to fill.  So along came Sikorsky's H-60 with all its "utility" combinations, and many of the H-1's were able to retire to their well-deserved place in history, with no loss in capability to the many who counted on them for the last half century.

Dragon has produced several varieties of the H-60 in 1/144th scale over the last few years and the latest issue is the UH-60L, which has served so valiantly over the past several years from the mountains of Bosnia and Afghanistan to the sands of Somalia and Iraq, in service to the United States and many of her allies.

In the Box

This kit comes in Dragon's typical 1/144th scale aircraft package, which means 2 complete kits in the box.  For each helicopter, there are 29 parts (including 2 you won't use) molded in gray on one sprue, 3 clear parts (the nose section and doors (all the windows), and 6 gray external tank parts on a separate sprue.

A complete, full color instruction sheet is provided for assembly, painting, and marking placement.  The instructions are presented in typical Dragon pictographic format and are simple and fairly clear.

A comprehensive (but small) decal sheet is provided for each ship, with markings for the US Army 101st Airborne Air Assault division in Bosnia in 2001 and operations in 1990s Somalia, plus markings for Israeli Defense Force (IDF) circa 1999.  The decals are of the usual high quality and detail.

The Kit

Dragon is still one of the front runners when it comes to detail at small scale.  There are a few crisp service panels and skin panel joints molded into the fuselage and engine cowlings.  The recessed panel lines are a little large and deep but it's about the right amount for this size kit so that, after painting, they look good to the eye.  The molding on the gray parts is clean, with only a little residual flash around some of the edges, and the parts generally line up and fit together well.

Construction/Finishing

This kit goes together fairly fast, with very little trouble at all.  With care taken to release the parts from the sprues and clean them up, there was no need for putty and only a bottle of Thin Instant Cement was needed.  There are some small gaps between the top of the fuselage and the engine housing that sits on top.  These parts are all fairly small and tricky for someone with meaty fingers, but there is even a really tiny cable cutter included, and that thing is small.  Lots of care and patience is required in a few places.  The fuselage halves lined up nicely.  Use the thin liquid cement carefully and sparingly and the reward is a very clean and detailed outer surface.

The tricky part of finishing is masking the windows for paint.  I suppose, due to the different molding techniques required, the detailing on the clear parts is not as crisp.  I started masking the windows with tape, but the detail around the windshield wipers and the curved window edges made it too difficult without a clean edge to run a sharp new # 11 blade alongside.  I was able to tape a few windows but switched to a liquid mask that could be brushed or dabbed on with a toothpick, then peeled off after painting.  If you plan to build your Blackhawk with the back doors closed, I'd recommend masking the windows in the door, then go ahead and install the doors before you assemble the fuselage halves in step 1.  The doors have tabs to accommodate this installation.  You can trim off these tabs if you want your doors open but the interior parts are a little thick and will require some re-work to make it look right.

The UH-60L version has twin General Electric T700-GE-701Cs engines, which give it 1000 lb more cargo capacity, and the exhausts of these engines are covered by redesigned shrouds that reduce the heat signature.  There are 2 parts to each shroud and the instructions are a little unclear here as to how they go together and fit on the fuselage - it took some trial and error and research here to get them installed correctly.

At this point, all that's left is the landing gear, wings, external tanks (optional), and rotors.  No problems with any of them - all mating parts match up well.

The color guide is accurate for all three possible configurations and the decals are excellent but (recurring theme here) really small.  These are good quality decals but they dry out quickly, so use a little setting solution to position them and then they'll sit right down.

Conclusions

Dragon's UH-60L Blackhawk Helicopter 2-ship set is a fine kit and I recommend it for just about any modeler with a couple models behind them.   It goes together and finishes fast - build, paint and decals - and makes a great weekend project if you're stuck in the house.

Dragon has been making great small scale kits for years with great detail and accuracy.  They are among the best at it.

My thanks go out to Dragon Models USA for providing this kit and to IPMS/USA for the chance to review it.

  • Outside instructions
    Outside instructions
  • Inside instructions
    Inside instructions
  • Clear parts tree
    Clear parts tree
  • Nose shell
    Nose shell
  • Molding detail
    Molding detail
  • Completed kit
    Completed kit

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