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Kitty Hawk AH-6J/MH-6J Little Bird

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/35 scale plastic model helicopter kit
Kit:No. KH50003 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$54.99
Kitty Hawk
Fine rivets; detailed cockpit and engine with engine with posable doors
Confusing instructions with errors; brittle plastic; stencils wrong color decal options
Injection-molded, 287 parts (9 PE), decals
Watching AH-6s in Black Hawk Down piqued my interest in Kitty Hawk’s Little Bird.

The kit consists of 278 gray plastic parts and a small photo-etched (PE) fret. Clear parts were separately bagged and scratch-free. Parts are included to build either the MH-6 transport (troop benches and fast ropes) or AH-6 gunship (M134 miniguns, LAU-68 rocket pods, and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles).

The 23-page instructions have clear illustrations but don’t specify which parts are unique to each version. In the middle of the booklet is a decal placement guide that has nice colored renderings of the birds. Four decal options are included in the kit (three AH and one MH).

Fine moldings highlight the kit, including sharp rivets on the body. Unfortunately, flash and ejector-pin marks mar some parts, and the plastic is brittle, making it difficult to cleanly remove small parts from the trees. Many of the minigun barrels were broken in my kit.

The build starts with the pretty complete and nicely detailed Allison turboshaft engine. Swap parts B70 and B71; they are mislabeled in the instructions. The engine doors can be posed open or closed.

All the glass puts the cockpit in full view; Kitty Hawk provides plenty of detail, including PE harnesses for the pilots, MP5 submachine guns for the crew (a nice touch), controls, and decals for the instrument panel.

Steps 6 and 7 are optional, depending on which of the versions you are building. Choose Step 6 — ammunition boxes and weapon pylons — for the AH-6, which I built. Step 7 provides the side benches for the MH-6.

Step 9 is a bit tricky: In order to fit the windscreen, placement of the main interior assembly must be spot on or the control panel will prevent the windscreen from meeting the bottom of the fuselage. Dry-fit the fuselage halves over the interior and tape the windscreen in place to ensure everything fits before gluing the fuselage together.

The M134s assemble from individual barrels, and most of them in my kit were either broken on the sprue or broke during removal. Assembly of the miniguns also was frustrating because the parts are tiny and the instructions lack detail. (Online references proved invaluable.) If I build another kit, I will replace the M134s with aftermarket parts. The instructions show the ammo belts running over the armament mounts, but they should run under.

In Step 15, the directions have you attach the fast-rope bars, but they are only appropriate for the MH-6; leave them off if you are building the gunship.

I used a little filler on the fuselage seam and where the tail meets the body. Be careful to not sand away any of the finely molded rivets.

The final additions were the different antennas and sensors; check references for the correct parts on the bird you are building.
I painted my model using Tamiya NATO black for a faded finish.

Although printed with a flat finish, the decals went on without issues or silvering and reacted well to setting solutions. However, the stencils should be green, not gray — the color wasn’t changed until the 2000s, and all of the marking options are from the early 1990s. Note also that the color diagrams show some later equipment not used in this kit, including the nose FLIR pod, six-blade main rotor, and four-blade tail rotor.

I spent about 40 hours on Kitty Hawk’s Little Bird, more than I was expecting based on the relatively low parts count. The complexity of the instructions added many hours to the build. Overall, though, I am pleased with how the model turned out. Experienced builders will enjoy building it.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2018 issue.


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