by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ ]
Originally published on:
This is a build review of Kitty Hawk's 1/35 HH-60G. I will build it mostly out of the box with a few extras added here and there to add some details to it. The kit is pretty complete and full of details as-is, but there is always room for more details and improvements.
The USAF Pave Hawk is a highly modified version of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. It features an upgraded communications and navigation suite that includes an integrated inertial navigation/global positioning/Doppler navigation systems, satellite communications, secure voice, and Have Quick communications. The term PAVE stands for Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment.
In 1981, the U.S. Air Force chose the UH-60A Black Hawk to replace its HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopters. After acquiring some UH-60s, the Air Force began upgrading each with an air refueling probe and additional fuel tanks in the cabin. The machine guns were changed from 7.62 mm M60s to .50 caliber XM218s. These helicopters were referred to as "Credible Hawks" and entered service in 1987.
Afterwards, the Credible Hawks and new UH-60As were upgraded and designated MH-60G Pave Hawk. These upgrades were to be done in a two-step process. However, funding allowed only 16 Credible Hawks to receive the second step equipment. These helicopters were allocated to special operations use. The remaining 82 Credible Hawks received the first step upgrade equipment and were used for combat search and rescue (CSAR). These search and rescue Pave Hawks were designated HH-60Gs. In 1991, all MH-60Gs were subsequently divested by Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). These MH-60Gs were redesignated as HH-60Gs and transferred to Air Combat Command (ACC). The HH-60Gs have continued to be upgraded through the years and have served in every US conflict since Operation Desert Storm in 1990 to the present in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The kit comes on eight grey sprues, two fuselage halves, one clear sprue, a large PE fret, a small decal sheet with the instrument panel markings, and a large decal sheet with two aircraft marking options. One option is a modern HH-60G in overall AFSOC Gray and the other a slightly older (around 2003-ish) HH-60G in Euro-1 camo. The clear sprue is placed inside a smaller cardboard box to protect it from scratching and damage. The box is rounded out with a glossy 8 1/2 x 11 inch, 32 page instruction booklet that looks detailed and very complete.
I plan on building mine as an early 2000s HH-60G in Euro-1 camo from the 210 Rescue Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard using Werner's Wings Pave Hawk Combat Rescue decals (WW35-07) and H-60 Skis set (WW35-14) on it.
After initially looking at the parts on the sprues, I have identified a few shortfalls. One is on the cabin ceiling part. There are three small structural spars on each side of the ceiling in the cabin. Kitty Hawk missed one side of these. They are easy to add though using a few strips of 0.040 sheet styrene.
I have also found a few issues with the instructions as I worked through them. I will list these as I go through the build steps.
Step 1 builds the gunners’ seats. The seat back for the gunners' seats are misnumbered though. They are listed as E8, but that is the seat back for the troop seats in the rear. They should be G37, which are the correct gunners' seats with head rests.
Step 2 would have you build an additional seat for the middle between the gunners' seats facing forward. This seat is very infrequently carried, especially facing forward. If anything, it faces rearward. If facing forward, there is no way for anyone to get into the seat as it is blocked by the two gunners' seats on either side. I decided to leave this off.
Step 3 starts on the ceiling. There are two corrections needed here. First is the H-Bar seat support that the gunners' seats attach to. The kit part is more of a "U" bar and turned 180 degrees from where it should be. I turned it around and added the forward leg making it an H-bar, which is shaped like a lower case "h". Second, there should be a small slot cut into the side of the ceiling where part D56 attaches. There is a recessed spot on the backside of the ceiling there, it just needs to be cut open. To the ceiling, I added the H-bar rapel/fast rope rig (G46). I also added a drain tube coming from the transmission drip pan.
Steps 4 and 5 build the gunners' side bulkheads. There is one small correction here. On both side bulkheads, there are raised strips that are to mount the hoist control box and a guard for it. The issue is that only the starboard side one should have these mounts as the hoist and its associated controls are only on the starboard side. I shaved the port side mounts off with a sharp xacto knife. I also added the release handle and cable for the sliding armor plates (C50, C55) along the pilots' seats. On the starboard gunner's side bulkheads, I also added the wiring and a joystick for the hoist controller (D8). Lastly, I cut the tabs off the bottoms of the side walls as I have heard the cabin is slightly too wide for the fuselage. I plan to attach the side walls to the fuselage insides and not the cabin structure to hopefully correct this issue. I had no real issues with all the parts and they went together well.
Step 6 builds the instrument panel and went together with no issues. You will need to add a bit of filler putty to the two tabs on the top of the glare shield (B30) though as there should be no depressions or rectangles on top of it. It is a one-piece, smooth part in reality.
Step 7 builds the pilots’ seat. Here is another minor issue. The seat supports (E9, E10) are reversed in the picture in the instructions. Swap them around and you will be fine. Most H-60 seats have added padding and/or sheepskin covers to make them more comfortable. I used the fabric from a cloth Band-Aid to replicate the sheepskin seat covers and the seat belt retractors were added to the rear of the seats with a piece of 0.040 styrene rod. The seats went together well and detailed up nicely. Of note, there are no seat belts for the gunners' seats in the kit. I had an extra set from an Eduard PE set for the Academy Black Hawks that I used on the pilots' seats. On the gunners' seats, I used the kit belts and I added the side belt retractors. Also of note, there are no decals for the seat tilt-back warning decals. I used a couple left over Academy ones here as well.
Step 8 starts bringing the interior parts together. There were no issues here, but I did add a bit of details missing from the kit. I added electronic boxes into the open ceiling structures and under the pilots' seats. To make these, I cut up the pieces for the front electronics compartment in the nose (B18 and forward part of cockpit floor) since I was not leaving it open. Most of the above electronic boxes come from it and a few I had left over from resin sets.
A note on the IP decals. In steps 6 and 8, you add the decals for the instrument panel and center console. The parts they lay over have a lot of relief representing the various instruments and knobs, etc. I almost didn't use the decals for fear of them not snugging down over all the relief and looking horrible. I am glad that I did. The decals went on perfectly and snugged down over the relief excellently. I did use a bit of decal solvent and a couple coats of decal set to help them out, but there were no issues. They turned out looking awesome. I wish there was a decal for the overhead panel though.
Step 9 builds the Aux fuel tanks in the rear. They went together without issue. Their straps are nicely done in PE with ratcheting mechanisms to secure them in plastic (F8). There is one more minor correction here as well. There is no hole in the crossover tubing (C29) to attach the fuel hose (C41) to. Drill a hole in C29 to fix this.
Steps 10 and 11 build the gunners’ ECM control stacks. They go together well. Disregard the smaller inset image in step 11 though. It is a repeat from step 10 and doesn’t belong here.
Step 12 adds the aux tanks and ECM control stacks to the interior.
Step 13 adds the internals for the front electronics compartment, rear side walls, and rear wall. The rear wall needs a hole drilled in it for the fuel line at the top center where there is an inset on the rear side. I also sanded all the rivet details off the rear side walls (B28, B29) as they should be cloth covered, not metal. You also add the gunner’s side walls and ceiling here to complete the internal cockpit/cabin structure. I did not do this so I could assemble it differently by gluing the side walls to the fuselage side in hope of reducing the seams on the top and bottom since I had heard of fit issues from others who have built Kitty Hawk’s earlier MH-60L kit.
To complete my interior, I added some gear bags, assault packs, first aid pouches, water jugs, and a back board from the spares bin. I also used a metal stokes litter basket that a fellow modeler made and sent me a few of many years ago. It is a really nice piece. I added the straps to the Robinson Aux tanks. They were not that difficult and the provided ratchet strap pieces (F8) are really nice. I used extra PE straps to secure the stokes litter to the ceiling and string to secure the back board. I also decided to use the GUA-2 (M134) miniguns with internal ammo cans. Even though not shown on the instructions, the internal ammo cans and GAU-2s are in the kit on sprue F. I used the KH MH-60L instructions (found at Hobby Search) for the ammo cans and GAU-2s. The ammo cans are parts F30, F38, and F50. I also added a couple left over parts from the bodies of Academy's GAU-2s for the ammo can feed motors. The guns will be built as per the instructions. I tried using the PE for the ammo chutes, but was unsuccessful. I was able to fold them into their square shape, but could not get them to bend and flex into position without kinking. As an alternative, I had some vinyl/rubber(?) flexible ammo chutes from Cobra Company that worked perfectly.
Steps 14 through 16 build the engines. I ran into another minor problem in step 14. I will not be installing the engines as I will close the engine bays, but built one to see how it goes together. There is an issue with part F58 not fitting properly. Either the part is too log, or one hose is too short. Either way, you are left with a floating hose and the part resting on the engine support. The rest of the engines go together well and they fit in the bays fine. Note that the mounts need to be reversed for each side as the instructions only show one side being built. I did mount the turbine faces (F65) to the bulkheads (C12, C13) since these will be needed to attach the prop shafts to later.
Step 17 builds the structure above the roofline. It all goes together well with no issues. There is an issue to be aware of in the next step that should be corrected before assembling this step though.
Step 18 has you add the forward gear boxes to the turbine fans, there is an issue. The cowl (C66) has a couple of support pieces that interfere with the gear boxes and will not allow them to be installed. To fix it, cut the supports and remove them; they won't be seen anyways. They will then allow clearance for the gear boxes. Kitty Hawk also left the part number out for the transmission here. It is part C44. I also glued the transmission to the roof first, before attaching the gear boxes and cowling (C66).
Step 19 continues the roof/transmission/engine parts and they went together without any issues.
Step 20 starts building the main rotor assembly. There is an omission here as well. Part C48 is the vibration damper for the main rotor shaft. In the instructions, it shows pins on the end of it. However, there are no pins molded on the part. Without the pins, the part floats above the swash plate (C45). I added 2mm pins from 0.030 styrene rods to both ends.
Step 21 has you add the rotors to the roof section using a cap (C42) on the bottom of the rotor shaft. I did not do this as I always leave my rotors removable to make transporting the model easier.
Step 22 has you open a bunch of holes from inside the fuselage before you close it up in step 23. They missed a couple though. There are two slots on the sides of the tail for a couple of antennas (E47) that are added later. These should be opened up as well.
Step 23 has you sandwich the internal cabin/cockpit between the two fuselage halves and close it all up. As I said earlier, I had heard of issues with the internal cabin structure being too wide if built as per the kit instructions. To (hopefully) remedy this, I cut the tabs off the bottoms of the gunners' bulkheads (parts D30 & D31). I then glued the bulkheads into the fuselage sides. This is the same manner that Academy had you build their H-60 kits. I also scraped a bit of plastic from the openings for the side bulkheads on the roof to allow them some more freedom to slide in easier. So far, I have found pretty much every slot and locating hole really tight on the kit and opened up most of them to make everything fit better once painted. It seems to have worked pretty well. The fuselage closed up pretty tightly with just a small gap along the topside and underside. I was able to fill each gap with a strip of 0.015 sheet on the underside and 0.020 sheet on the top (which looks wider since it is a piece of "L" shaped stock). All the topside engine panels still fit perfectly upon dryfitting as well.
Step 24 builds the rear stabilator, which went together without issues.
In step 25, you add details to the fuselage. Here, again, a couple parts are mislabeled. An antenna is labeled as G2, but should be D2, and the landing light should be GP10 (clear part), not G10. They also would have you add the APR-39 Radar Warning Receivers (E28) in two places on the tail, at the rear tip and on the upper tail. They should only be on the upper part. If you add them to both parts, you will not have two for the nose since there are only four, not six of them.
Step 26 adds details to the nose section that makes up the cover for the electronics compartment. It went together without issues.
Steps 27 and 28 build the pilots’ doors. Here is another area that needs attention. Whether you use the older style with the small sliding window or the newer one-piece windows, both need to have part of their flanges removed so they sit properly in the door frames. You will need to remove the bottom piece of flange and about 1/3 of the way up both sides. Once these flange pieces are removed, the window will fit properly into the frame. Here, the inner door detail is awesome. The pockets are even open, so I place a map in one side. There is an issue here with no inner door decals for the pilots' door though. Again, I had some left-over Academy ones that I used.
Steps 29 and 30 build the sliding cabin side doors. The kit does provide the inner cabin door decals, but I liked the Academy ones better and used them again.
Step 31 builds the tail rotor, with no issues.
Step 32 adds two flare and chaff boxes to the starboard tailboom, the nose electronics compartment cover, tail rotor and a few other details. Of note, the HF antenna on the tail is not labeled. It is part D61. You also add the front windscreen (GP15) here. The front windscreen is really nice and fits onto the fuselage without any issues. It fit perfectly and needed no filler putty, sanding, or coercion to fall into place. I was really impressed.
Step 33 adds more details and previously built sub-assemblies like the pilots and side cabin doors, more chaff/flare buckets, the rescue hoist, and weather radar on the nose.
Steps 34 and 35 build the side sponsons and main landing gear struts. I had to deviate a bit here to represent a helo with the internal gun mounts. To do this, I had to swap out the kit parts for the side sponsons. The kit ones come molded with the parts for the external gun mounts and ammo cans and cannot be built without them out of the box. I had some left over sponsons from an Academy MH-60S that I used on the port side. On the starboard side, I used the outside piece from an Academy MH-60G sponson. You can see both of these in the darker gray plastic in the pics. Also, step 35 has a couple of corrections. The top of the sponson is labeled as part D41, but is actually D39. Also the PE surround for the position light is not numbered. It should be PE 43.
In step 36, I only added the ESS cover (G24) and the flare/chaff buckets since I am using the internal ammo cans.
Step 37 builds the .50 cal MGs. I skipped it since I am not using them.
Step 38 is the same as step 36, but for the other side. You also add a few antennas.
Step 39 adds the external gun mounts and .50 cal MGs. I skipped this one as well.
Step 40 adds the roof/transmission/engine/rotor assembly. It went on with no issues.
Step 41 is the final step which builds and installs the sliding front roof section cover. There is one issue here with a misnumbered forward wire cutter. It is labeled as C31, but is actually D37. At this point, construction is complete.
Even though the kit is well-detailed, you can always add some more. I added the wiring to the main and tail rotors, the wiring for the flare/chaff buckets, and the brake lines on the main gear struts. I also added the hose for the refueling probe.
Disregard pages 31 and 32. This shows building of two GAU-21 .50 cal naval mounts. They are not used by the USAF on any of their aircraft, especially not HH-60Gs. I don’t know why they are included at all. They are also incorrectly included in Kitty Hawk’s US Army MH-60L, which doesn’t use them either. Also, if you built the model with the external gun mounts and .50 cals as per the instructions, you don’t have the .50 cals for the GAU-21s anyways.
Painting & Decal Application
Next up was finishing the aircraft. I painted it in the '80-'90s European 1 Camo scheme using Testors Model Master enamel paints. I used Euro Dark Green (FS34092), Euro 1 Gray (FS36081), and Medium Green (FS34102). I used my trusty Paasche H-model airbrush and did the camo freehand.
I used the kit decals for all the stencils and common markings. They all went on really well and snugged down nicely with a bit of decal set to assist. The only issue was that there are quite a few decals that are on the decal sheet, but not shown nor called out in the decal placement diagram. Pretty much all the decals that go forward of the pillar between the cabin doors and gunners’ windows are not listed. The most noticeable are the handle position decals on the pilots’ doors (decals 15 & 20). Also, the step lines (A32), tie-down and jack-point markings (A42), and other placards that go under the gunners’ windows are not mentioned, but all are on the decal sheet. There are other general placard stencils left over that can be added around the fuselage. Both the Werner's Wings decals mentioned below and the older Academy decal placement instructions show the positions for all the left-over decals. One other issue with the kit decals is the stencils for the main rotor blades (A48) and tail rotor blades (A63, A64) are printed in black. This will not work as the blades are also black. They just disappear. I replaced them with a set of rotor blade stencils in white left over from an Academy H-60, which gives you two sets in each kit; one white, one yellow.
The rest of the helo-specific decals came from the Warner's Wings Pave Hawks Combat Rescue decal sheet. It is marked as an HH-60G from the 210th Rescue Squadron of the Alaska Air National Guard around 2002. The "Let’s Roll" decal on the cargo door was added after Sep 11, 2001 and came from a sheet made by a fellow modeler, Grant Little, I think. I had no issues with any of these decals.
I weathered it lightly with a black and brown wash since most of these HH-60Gs are pretty clean and well kept.
I also used the Werner's Wings skis and their "Jolly Green Giant" feet decals, which trace their lineage back to the "Jolly Green Giant" HH-3s from Vietnam. These were easy to work with and look great, in my opinion. I really like the look of the skis.
This has been a really fun build. The Kitty Hawk kit is very nice. It has a few issues that were easy to deal with; nothing that was insurmountable. It is light-years ahead of the Academy kit in details, but there are issues with missing decals and some that are unusable. Overall, it is a really nice kit, I highly recommend it.