by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ ]
History The H-34 helicopter series was one of Sikorsky's most popular helicopters ever produced (next to the Blackhawk). The aircraft first flew in March 1954 and entered service with the US Army as the CH-34 Choctaw, the US Navy as the HSS-1 Seabat (anti-submarine version) and the HUS-1 Seahorse (utility version which was also flown by the US Marine Corps).
After Secretary of Defense McNamara's standardization of military aircraft designations in 1962, the H-34 remained CH-34 Choctaw in the US Army, while it became the SH-34 Seabat and the UH-34 Seahorse in the US Navy and Marine Corps.
The aircraft was typically powered by a Wright R1820 radial engine of 1,525 horsepower. The aircraft was employed in a wide range of missions from passenger service, troop transport, medevac, supply, and for a short time as a gunship in Vietnam. It was rugged, versatile and adaptable for duty in a wide range of environmental and operational conditions. Many are still flying today as civilian heavy lifters under the civil designation of S-58.
The Kit Gallery Models gives us another very nice variant of the Sikorsky H-34; this time a US Navy LH-34D Seahorse as it was outfitted for Operation Deep Freeze in the Antarctic in 1956-57.
This box is very full as it has all the parts that will allow you to build any version of H-34 in it. It contains parts for both types of landing gear (early bent leg, and later straight leg), two complete fuselages (one for each type of landing gear), and two types of exhaust manifolds in the box. It is molded in light grey plastic with no short shots or flash evident anywhere. The molding is crisp and full of fine details. There are no issues with the moldings that I can see.
The kit includes eleven grey sprues, two sprues of clear parts, one separate clear part for the canopy, two PE frets, a large decal sheet, and a nicely printed instruction booklet with 18 steps for construction.
The finer parts are wrapped in foam to protect them and the canopy and other small sprues are packed in a separate box within the main box to protect them as well.
The kit features many very nice details. These include separate, very detailed inner wall, ceiling and floor panels for the rear cabin. There are also two options for seats in the rear; cloth webbed seats, or solid cloth seats.
There are also PE seatbelts for both the pilots’ seats and the crew seats in the rear cabin. The PE also includes fine screens for around the engine compartment and other screens on the fuselage and tail. Also included is a very detailed Wright R1820 radial engine with cooling shrouds, and other pieces to detail the engine compartment. There are two types of exhaust manifolds with their corresponding nose cowling doors that can be positioned opened to show off the engine.
The pilots’ windows and crew door are also positionable to show off interior details. The tail can be built folded or in the operational configuration. The main rotors have the blade sag molded into them. There is also a rescue hoist for above the cabin door and optional drop fuel tank and landing bags for the arctic version.
DecalsThe decals contain markings for three aircraft; the boxtop US Navy HUS-1L, 657, VX-6, Antarctica, 'King Pin II' in overall hi-vis orange; a US Navy UH-34D, 150208, VC-1, NAS Barber's Point in overall grey w/blue stripe; and a JMSDF (Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force) HSS-1N, 8569, Japan in dark blue/orange.
ConclusionThere is one omission that I have noted. There are no parts for the collective control levers that should be on the left side of both pilots’ seats. These are not only present on every H-34, but on all helicopters. You can’t fly one without them as they control the pitch of the rotor blades and the vertical (up/down) axis of the helicopter. This is a glaring misstep from Gallery Models. You will either have to scratch the collectives yourself or source them from some other kit.
As mentioned, the kit contains all the parts you would need to build any H-34 variant. On the sprues are many pieces that are labeled as “not used”. These include an M2 .50 cal MG, an M60 7.62mm MG, and an M200 rocket pod for a gunship or Vietnam USMC version. With the two fuselages, two types of landing gear, and two types of exhausts, you can pretty much build two aircraft; one complete, and one as a wreck or left over aircraft rotting away. All you need to do is some research on the version you want and you can build it with what is in the box. The kit is quite a value.
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