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Dragon 1/35 UH-1D Huey

Subscriber-only early access review
Kit: 3538
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Dragon Models USA, 626-668-0322 www.dragonmodelsusa.
Price: $37.95
Comments: Injection- (158 photoetched),
Pros: Only D model scale; crew and photoetched-metal parts improve
Cons: Exaggerated problems; only included
Dragon's UH-1D kit is a mixed bag. The erstwhile Panda kit is bolstered by two new sets of photoetched-metal detail (one precolored) and Dragon's helicopter crew.

The heavy, medium gray plastic molding makes a sturdy model, but fine details (like antennas) are overscale and beg replacement with wire or stretched sprue. Surface detail, a combination of recessed panel lines and raised rivets, is overdone.

The weapons from the crew figure set include M23 flex mount for an M60 machine gun, with a second M60 handheld by a crew member. However, Vietnam War Hueys carried two door guns, either on straps hung from the ceiling (early years) or on the M23 mount (later). Too bad you get only one of each.

The photoetched-metal parts are nice. The prepainted set includes a two-part instrument panel, other control panels, and seat belts for the flight crew and 12 passengers. The brass fret features engine, rotor-head, and weapon details.

Decals provide markings for six UH-1Ds:five Vietnam veterans and the world-record-setting bird at the 1962 Paris Air Show.

This kit requires experience with small photoetched-metal pieces; Steps 1 through 4 use most of the 158 metal parts. It took as long to cut, trim, assemble, and install the seat belts as it did to assemble and paint my Huey. But the results are worth it to dress up the drab plastic seats.

The instructions specify light gull grey for the interior. But my reference said dark gull gray, which is almost a perfect match for the gray on the photoetched-metal instrument panels.

The fuselage closed around the interior with some rubber-band encouragement. I filled a gap on the seam with Mr. Surfacer 500 and super glue. Large gaps around other assemblies (like the engine housing) needed additional filling.

Delicate photoetched-brass engine parts enhance the tailpipe. The attachment edges of the horizontal tail surfaces are squared in spite of the boom's taper; I filed until I could attach them at 90 degrees from the centerline.

I left the clear parts off until after painting; the side and top cockpit windows fit through the windshield hole. Several sinkers in the nose prevent the model from rocking back.

There are numerous optional parts, but the instructions give no guidance on which options go with which version. I referenced the box-top art to model The Good Widow Mrs. Jones. Afterwards, I found the real bird had a different configuration.

The rotor-head detail is simplified but assembles well. The rotor blades appear to be UH-1N blades, not Ds, but this can be corrected by removing the trailing-edge extensions.

I sanded down the overstated rivets, then painted with Model Master Acryl olive drab. I masked off the nose and tail planes and painted them flat black and red, respectively.

Decals, applied over a gloss coat, are thin, opaque, and respond well to Micro Sol. The nose art lacks a white legend, and the figure itself looks less like a woman than a white blob, so I touched it up with artist oils. The Unites States Army lettering on the boom appears squashed.

After a coat of Polly Scale flat, I installed the windows. The top windows were sprayed with Tamiya clear green, then dipped in Future floor polish. The doors are designed to be movable, but they don't go back far enough; I trimmed the attachment points, glued the doors open, and mounted the gun on the port side.

The model scales out almost perfectly in length and rotor diameter. Most of the 28 hours I spent building were for photoetched-metal details.

Dragon's additions to Panda's basic kit create a better UH-1D; i recommend it for anyone experienced with photoetched-metal parts. But there's still room for improvement. If i build another, I'll scratchbuild a second gun mount and further refine the overall detail.

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