Helicopters (Great and Small)
Aerospatiale SA.319 Alouette III – Mil Mi-6 (Hook) – Hughes OH-6A

It took many years and a World War to bring the helicopter from a technical idea to a working machine. They have been with us now for about eighty years and in that time they have evolved into many shapes and sizes. They fill many roles in our modern world, ranging from terrifying war machines to aircraft that find people who have been lost and convey them to medical care, and everything in between. The sound of their rotor blades is unmistakable and heard all over the world. What I like about the three we are going to look at today is that they show how big and small helicopters can be.

Aerospatiale SA.319 Alouette III in 1/72 by Heller
This helicopter began entering service in 1960 and over 2,000 had been manufactured by the time production concluded in 1985. It was a development of the earlier and smaller Alouette II which was the first production helicopter to be powered by a gas turbine. The Alouette III was a very popular helicopter and used for almost every imaginable role ranging from being armed with missiles, torpedoes and guns to air-sea rescue, casualty evacuation, crop-spraying and carrying passengers. By the beginning of the 21st Century they were starting to be replaced by more modern aircraft.

This model was made using the Heller kit and you can read my Workbench Notes about it.  The kit was first published in 1980 and has appeared in a large number of boxings since and also under the Whirlybird and Kovozávody Prostějov labels. Fortunately this kit was created during Heller’s Golden Age so it remains an excellent kit, so much so that nobody is likely to publish a competing kit. It also comes with engine options so you can model either the SA.16 or SA.19 versions of the Alouette III from it. There are also plenty of detail, conversion and decal sets that you can use to adorn this model, A cruise through the Scalemates website will show you how much can be done with this delightful little kit.

Mil Mi-6 (Hook) in 1/72 by Amodel
In its day this helicopter was by far the largest, being eclipsed only by another Mil helicopter, the Mi-26 in the 1980s. The Mi-6 was designed to fill a number of military and civil roles that included assisting in the exploration and development of eastern and central Russia. The first one flew in 1957 and 926 were manufactured up until 1980. They set many records including the top speed for a helicopter of 300 km/h and carrying five tonnes over 1,000kilometers at 284 km/hr in 1962. They were withdrawn from service in Russia in 2002 after a serious crashed.

I can’t say that I enjoyed making this model and my Workbench Note on it goes into some of the problems. However, if you want to make a model of this mighty big helicopter your only option is the Amodel kit that was first published in 2005. I could find a couple of in-box reviews of this kit on the interweb but no construction reviews, so clearly nobody else is foolish enough to have a go at this one. Be warned, this kit is hard work, but perhaps it’s worth it.

Hughes OH-6A in 1/72 by Italeri
This little helicopter was designed to meet a requirement of the United States Army for a light observation and utility helicopter. The first one flew in February 1963, they entered service in 1966 and were used extensively during the Vietnam war where they often flew as bait to draw enemy fire and mark targets for attack by other aircraft such as the AH-1. A total of 1,422 were produced for the Army but they remain in production into the 2020s for service with military and civil users around the world.

Steve Pulbrook made this model and he seems to have been happy with it. I have a copy of this kit and it looks very nice, which is always a good (but sometimes deceptive) start. The kit was first published by Italeri in 1992 and has since been boxed by Tamiya and Bilek. There is also a OH-6 kit published in 2010 by Azmodel which comes in several boxes with parts for different versions. My experience is that Azmodek kits usually build into decent looking models but can be challenging at times, so you take your pick. A review of the two kits on ARC Forum comes down on the side of the Azmodel kit, but not, it seems, by much.