UH-72A build-up

September 28, 2008

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Dasphule's 1/32 UH-72A build-up ~ Eurocopter EC-145 REGA converted to UH-72A Lakota

This is a recent (last couple of years anyway) release of Revell's 1/32 EC-145 kit. It comes in several boxings, but I used the REGA for this conversion. After also getting the ADAC boxing of it, I found that the kits are identical except for the decals and painting instructions, as well as the plastic color. Both kits are an amalgamation of old and new kit parts. Some newer, better molded and detailed parts have been added to the kit, but the old parts are still included. Good thing Revell added the new bits as the old parts are really bad, namely the totally inaccurate seats.

                   


I guess I'll start at step one in the instructions and go from there. The first step deal with drilling out the locator holes for the seats and cabin equipment to be installed later. Simple enough, but because I was making a Lakota, not a REGA, some of the holes I drilled weren't needed and had to be filled.

Moving on, steps 2-7 deal with the cockpit area, adding the dash, control sticks, seats, etc. As with most of the kit's parts, there is some flash on the very delicate parts. Nothing drastic, but enough that you'll be nervous when trimming it off the thin pieces. Checking references, all of the bits are accurate in their general shapes, but some minor details are missing, most notably there's no switches on the control handles where there should be. For building the US Army UH-72A Lakota, all of the parts will work, but some of the colors are different. Check your references if building a Lakota. I added a pilot and copilot figure, as well as tape seatbelts with buckles carved out of extra casted seats.

Steps 8-18 deal with gluing the rescue equipment and seats to the flooring. Here's where I deviated from the instructions. The Lakotas (at least the ones in my references) don't have the EMS equipment cabinets and wall racks in them. As far as I can tell, the Lakotas only have seats in them, so that's what I modeled. The rear three place seat is close enough to stand in for the real deal, but some styrene strip should be added to replicate the big X braces on the backside of the seat. Now, to add more seats, and have them match the front seats, you have to either buy another kit, or copy them in resin as I did. The kit only comes with two of the updated seats, you're expected to use the old and inaccurate seats for the rear cabin. Screw that, I copied one of the new ones in silicone and casted as many as I'll ever need for future kits. Glue them into the holes we drilled earlier and proceed to paint everything. Once the interior is in the hull, reaching any specific area from outside is nigh impossible.

Steps 19-24 deal with installing the interior walls and ceiling, window "glass" and interior door molding detail. This is all straight forward, painting as you go. I left off the interior roof/walls assembly until the very last minute to allow access to the cabin area for last minute painting. I also painted the vent doors in the front side windows; figured to get it done now before I install and mask them. One by one I installed the windows, once done they were set aside overnight to dry hard for masking the next day. After all masking was done, I painted the hull halves both inside and out. Next time I'll just paint the interior before assembly, as paint on the outside of the hull caused fingerprints in the paint as I struggled with gluing the hull halves later.

Step 24 is where patience is a virtue, and the kit gets it's first middle finger from me. The hull halves have guide pins and tabs for the centering of the cabin parts, but the cabin is too narrow for the interior assemblies. Pay attention to the door molding details on the cockpit doors as they will interfere with the roof parts on the cabin assembly. I had to trim my molding down, but I guess the same thing could be done by trimming the roofline back. Anyway, after much struggling, clamping, rubber banding, and finesse on loan from all dead modelers everywhere, I finally got the halves to mesh up. Not well, mind you, but enough to glue them hard. Seams will need to be filled, especially under the nose and at the rear of the hull. In the end, I still must have missed trimming something somewhere as the cabin components still sit crooked in the hull. A little off center to the right and kinda cockeyed to the right when viewed from the front. Not really noticeable after the front "glass" is added and painted, so I ain't worrying about it. It's together, it's glued, it ain't coming apart!

Step 25 is painless, but leave it until later in the build as the landing legs will be in your way and could get broken off while working. The part fits pretty well, so it's no big deal. Mine required no filler as most of the seams are at natural seam lines.

Step 26 is where I deviated big time from the instructions. I had to build a solid mount for the main rotor. I really worry about it breaking on every chopper I build, so I try and reinforce the main shaft each time I build one. This kit gives you parts and instructions for assembling the main rotor head in two different ways, but both are weak and will snap off in time. Instead of using the styrene rod they supply for the main shaft, I used a piece of brass rod cut 3 times as long as the styrene rod. I JB Welded it into the rotor head to ensure a good glue joint, then set it aside to prepare the engine housing.

Step 27 and 28 are the assembly of the engine housing. I assembled it as the instructions say to, but I glued a 1/4" X 1/4" X 1" block of styrene under the shaft connection point, allowed it to dry, then drilled a hole for the shaft. Once done, the mount was solid and in no danger of breaking later. Step 29 has you installing the intakes for the engines. The shape of the intakes is correct, but there's no mesh detail. I roughly scribed this in with a X-Acto as I had no mesh tight enough to simulate it. I doubt such a product exists as the mesh is very fine on the real thing, resembling car speaker covers.

Step 30 has you mating the engine housing and the hull, as well as gluing the tail boom. The parts fit well along natural seams, but the tail mount is incorrect. I chose not to bother with it, but the real heli has it's tail in a recessed hole at the back of the hull. The has it flush mounting. Simple fix that chose not to bother with. Yes, I was lazy. Steps 31 and 32 have you gluing the windows and molding to the rear doors.

Step 33 is another deviation for me from the instructions. The end cap for the engine cover contours is supposed to slide up into the hole left after hull assembly. Well, until physics change, it wasn't going to go into that hole. So, I cut off the part that was supposed to go into the hole and flush glued it. The seam is a natural seam anyway, so no sanding is required if you're careful. In the same step they have you glue the windshield to the hull. Simple enough as it fits very well with minor coaxing as you glue. There are some points that will need filler, mainly at the top where the instrument panel juts out. And while we're here, don't forget to apply the decal to the roof or you won't have your upper instrument panel!! The instructions have you putting it in through the lower windows in Step 36 AFTER the main windshield is installed. TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE!! Do it now, before the windshield is in. Once the front glass is on the chopper, you're done doing anything to the cockpit area! I should have scratched out a 3d replacement for the decal, but it's not visible when the kit is done so I didn't bother. Yep, lazy again.

Steps 34 and 35 are the horizontal stabs and their wings. I glued the wings to the stabs and left them to dry. I later installed them right before painting so they won't be in the way while working. Step 36 has you installing the lower front windows and attempting the impossible feat of installing a decal to the ceiling through these windows. Someone slap the instructions' author, please.

Steps 37 is gluing the side doors on, but don't bother until the whole model is painted unless you're doing it closed up. Steps 38-39 has you installing some mystery box to the rear door and gluing in the window "glass". The Lakota doesn't have this box, so I deleted it. None of my EC-145 refs show it either; I have no clue what it's supposed to be. Gas tank maybe? Anyway, the Lakota doesn't have rear windows. The real deal appears to have panels of aluminum or plastic installed instead. The interior of the real thing has a sill around where the window should be, but the outside is smooth as if there's no window at all. I replicated this, as well as scratching out a stretchy net basket that's located on the rear left door. Again, I left off the doors until final assembly.

Step 40 is gluing in the exhaust pipes. I painted mine separately and left them off until final assembly. Step 41 has you gluing the steps to the skids. Delete the fins at the rear of the skids for the Lakota. Skip Step 42 entirely for a Lakota. Instead make two little box antennas and glue them to the same area on the boom. A fin antenna should also be added in the same area. Check your references for where and how big. Step 43 is more boom work. Delete the downward pointing antenna for a Lakota and fill the hole. Remove the plastic nub at the top of the tail and replace it with some clear styrene; it's a light, not an antenna. The tail skid should be made entirely of tubing, so either drill out the ovoid shaped "pad" or cut it off and remake it with styrene tubing. This is another item I left off until last.

Step 44 is the tail rotor assembly. It's all accurate, but some of the tiny details are missing. There's some balancer thingies that look like big head drum sticks that are missing from the blade mounts that should be added with styrene rod. Check your references to see what I mean. This step also has you adding two tube shaped pieces to the sides of the tail under the top light. The Lakota doesn't have these, so delete them and fill the locator holes with styrene "mushrooms" or "rivets" made from stretched sprue. Step 45 is fine as is for a Lakota, no changes.

Step 46: delete the light on the landing skids, everything else stays the same for the Lakota. The light in step 47 stays for Lakota also. Delete Step 48 for Lakota, but Step 49 is fine as is in the instructions. In Step 50, delete the handle that's directly over the door on the right side only. The winch locates here on the Lakota, opposite of what the instructions later have you do. Steps 51 and 52 remain as in the instructions, but entirely delete Steps 53-55 for Lakota. Step 56 stays as well for Lakota, but be careful gluing the wire shield next to the wiper arm.

Steps 57-59 should be done as in the instructions, but on the opposite side of the hull. Move and assemble everything in these steps on the right side for a Lakota. And finally, Steps 60 and 61 can be done as in the instructions.

As for painting, I followed the instruction's suggestions, but deferred to my interpretations based on pics of the real aircraft. All colors were Testors MM enamels. The outer hull of my Lakota is painted in Helo Drab, with shading done by lightening this color with white. I'm waiting for it to dry at this point in the game (see in-progress pictures here). Next step will involve the few custom decals. After floating the decals on with Future, a final coat of Future will be sprayed all over in preparation for the wash. A wash of black oils will be applied, then the whole thing will be flat coated. Finally, a simple base will be made for showing off my Lakota, the newest heli in the US Army's arsenal.

Look for this finished kit soon to be in my gallery here on the site.

Erin
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