1/35 UH-1D "Huey" (Modern AFV Series)
Kit Number: 3538
Reviewed by  Rick Bellanger, IPMS# 35220

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MSRP: $41.50

When I was offered this kit for review I was much exited about the prospect of building a "D" model of the Huey, and since it was coming from DML/ Dragon it should be a highly detailed kit and one to enjoy. Well, not quite…it is the Panda kit reboxed with some very nice artwork, plus an Eduard pre painted photo-etch set, a second PE set, and some figures that came from their OH-6 series of Helicopters. Sigh….

Don't get me wrong, the Panda kit built up to be a very nice looking model as does this one. Still, I was a little disappointed that Dragon couldn't do their own kit. With the highly super detailed kits Dragon has been producing over that last few years you would expect the same with this one. Enough bantering lets get to the kit and build.

Opening the kit you get 6 frets of grey plastic, 1 of clear, 2 of photo etch, a decal sheet for 4 subject aircraft -- each packaged separately to protect them in shipping, which is a very nice feature.

The pre-painted photo-etch is very nice. You get an instrument panel, center and upper consoles and a lot of seat belts with buckles. They look good and enhance the model nicely. The other fret of photo-etch is nice too. It includes windshield wipers and engine exhaust and a lot of other little bits that go here and there.

The clear parts are another story. They are cast so thick that they are not very clear, and appear wavy when you look through it. A coat of Future made them a little clearer, but the distortion is still there. The front windshield scales out to about 4 inches thick. The door glass is about the same and comes in a single piece (3 different windows) and will not look right if the doors are made to be opened. The rest of the clear parts are still too thick but once installed you can't tell.

The solid plastic parts were cast very nicely with very little flash and seam line cleanup required. The major distractions are the large raised rivets and panel lines. I guess you can sand them down fill the panel lines and rescribe the whole model if you choose to do.

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Assembly is pretty straightforward. You start with the cockpit and seats. There is very little detail in both these areas, but with the doors closed you can't see much of it anyway. You have to scrape off the molded in seatbelts and replace them with the color photo-etch ones. Next is the cabin area. Again the seats and supporting stanchions are way too thick and have no fabric detail. The seat supports, which in real life are 3/4-inch pipe, scale out to around 4 inches thick. The pre-painted seat belts are a nice touch, good looking buckles, but do not lay down very realistically, way too stiff.

[review image] Step 5 is the rotor assembly. It consists of 4 parts. To me, this is a major detail item for a helicopter and one that should reflect the same. Not on this model. I left the small washer looking piece C15 off so the rotor assembly can be removed for travel and painting. The blades were attached to the head and there is no flex to them at all. They should be slightly bent down when sitting still.

All the interior has to be detailed, prepainted and weathered before joining the fuselage halve together…standard helicopter model building procedures. You will also have to install the clear parts in the doors, lower front and skylights too.

The fuselage goes together quite well. I was surprised to find that when you sandwich the interior in and join the 2 halves together everything matched up and after drying, very little sanding and seam filling was required.

In step 9 you assemble the door gun. This is a very nice little sub assembly and is up to the current Dragon standards for detail. I would suggest not attaching it at this point; due to subsequent painting it would just get into the way and damaged.

Put all the doors on with windows inserted, and they pretty well mask the interior for you for painting. The 2 sliding doors just slip on and are made to slide forward and backwards. I left them off the final model after painting, because they didn't look right. Again, way too thick, about 4 scale inches. The other half doors were left in place. I used drafting tape to mask all clear parts.

I painted the aircraft as per instructions for the "Wasp" Platoon, 116th AHC, Chu Lai, 1971. The reason behind this was I liked the Wasp decal for the front. I glued on the extra stuff and goodies and door gun at this time. Weathering was accomplished with oils. A little dry brushing and touch up and the model was done.

I left the figures for last for a reason. They are very nice, of the quality one expects from DML/ Dragon plastic figures. Nicely cast and detailed. The problem is they do not fit in the model. The 2 pilots don't fit the cockpit and with doors closed…no way, Jose. The gunners too, just don't fit. They worked great for the OH-6 but not for the Huey.

In conclusion, I'm sorry to say "nice try, Dragon". The model does make into a nice "D" model Huey, but for the fans; it is not up to par with other helicopter models out there. Compared to the 1/32nd Revell or other Panda kits, it is an improvement. It would be nice to see a "D" model Huey designed and manufactured to the same quality as the Academy, Trumpeter and other DML/ Dragon kits. A good note is Cobra Models offers a resin detail set for this model. It offers doors that can be opened, plus cockpit detail. If I was to build another I would definitely purchase one. Eduard offers some additional photo-etch sets for the Academy UH-1C that can also be used on this kit.

Thanks to IPMS/ USA and Dragon USA for the review kit. Again, my comments are my personal opinions and in no way reflects the opinion of others.

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