Italeri 1/48 UH-34G/UH-34J Review

The Sikorsky H-34  was a piston engined helicopter developed by Sikorsky in the early 1950s. It entered service with the US Navy in 1954 and has served with 25 countries with over 2000 being produced. Sikorsky ended production in 1970. It was one of the last piston engined helicopters ever produced and in fact Westland helicopters in the UK swapped out the piston engine for a turbine and produced the Westland Wessex. West Germany bought 110 H-34Gs and one of the 2 variants in this kit is a West German navy SAR H-34G helicopter. The other variant in the kit is the UH-34J, which was a SH-34J with the ASW equipment removed and used as a utility and training helicopter by the US Navy.

The kit arrives in a sturdy top opening box. This is a new kit from Italeri and on the box top it says “fully upgraded moulds”. This kit is based on Italeris’ 2012 Westland Wessex kit, with updated sprues to reflect the differences between a Wessex and a H-34. All the sprues are slightly different from the ones in the 2012 and subsequent re-releases. The quality of the sprues is very good.

The kit contains:

  • 2 large sprues bagged individually
  • 2 identical medium sized sprues bagged together
  • 1 small clear parts sprue bagged separately
  • 1 small PE fret in a separate bag with card backing
  • 1 plastic mesh in the same bag as the PE
  • 1 decal sheet
  • 1 instruction manual of 12 mostly black and white pages.

The parts list is:

  • 110 plastic parts
  • 8 clear parts
  • 24 PE parts

So, let’s get the ball rolling and have a look at the sprues and see what we initially notice.

Looking at sprue A we have lots of nice details with fine panel lines on the fuselage halves. The gearbox rear cover (A22) has see through grills. The interior of the fuselage halves has a couple of ejector pin marks that might be visible if someone was really looking for them; I’m probably being a bit picky there.

Sprue C is the clear parts and they look very nice. The cockpit side windows have the correct bulge to them.

Sprue B is another large one, but isn’t packed with parts. In my box one of the nose engine doors had come loose, but was undamaged as it was still held inside the sprue packing bag. The cabin seats have nice fabric-like details.

Sprue D, both of them, have a nice droop to the main rotor blades and good undercarriage wheel detail.

The photo etch fret looks nicely detailed and we’ll see how it behaves when we build the kit.

Now let’s have a look at the instructions and see what the 12 pages, 11 steps and 2 decal options can tell us.

The front cover is the usual stuff. It tells us the scale, kit number and the 2 variants of the H-34 we can build. Then there’s a little bit info about the helicopter in 6 languages, English, Italian, German, French, Spanish and Russian.

Page 2 shows you the layout of sprues A and C and the painting references for the 8 colours that could be used on the kit. The colours are referenced in federal standard numbers and Italeri paints. There are two parts on sprue A that will not be used, probably left overs from earlier variants of this kit.

Page 3 gives the layout for the remaining sprues and the small photo etch fret.

On page 4 we start actually building the kit and this page is completely taken up with step one. At the top and bottom of the page are two identical steps, making the pilot and co-pilot’s seat’s. Each seat is pretty simple and straightforward with three pieces of plastic and four pieces of photo etch. In the centre of the page these are brought together along with the flying controls, the nicely detailed cockpit floor and centre console, and rear bulkhead to form the bulk of the cockpit.

Step two is at the top of page 5 and builds the passenger cabin with eight passenger seats that have some nice fabric detail on them. A lot of this will be in the dark recesses of the cabin though.

Step three starts by putting together a rudimentary gearbox area which also forms the roof of the passenger cabin. The fact it’s a rudimentary gearbox is not an issue since this area will hardly be visible when the kit is complete. If you want to open up the panels and add your own details then you have a good base to start with. Then this assembly, along with the cockpit and cabin assemblies are combined to form the bulk of the interior of the helicopter.

Step four takes the whole of page 6 and starts with drilling some holes that will get used towards the end of the build, and putting some windows in the two cockpit halves. The hub for the tail rotor is attached to the port side of the fuselage before the cockpit and cabin assembly is trapped between the two cockpit hearts.

Step five adds the bottom of the aircraft along with the undercarriage legs. There’s also a couple of aerials added at this point, but I’ll probably save those until the end of the build. Note that this bottom piece needs to be predrilled before you put it in place or else the undercarriage legs won’t fit. Some detail at the front of this panel will be covered over by a piece of photo etch, so there’s not much point in spending any time painting it.

Step six finally sees the instrument panel put together with a photo etch panel on top of a decal. This fits inside the two nose pieces. There’s the rudimentary representation of the top of the engine, which is nice since you might see it through the 3 grills. There’s no bottom of the engine though, although this would be completely invisible. Aries do make a resin Cyclone 1820 engine with photo etch details if you wanted to build the kit with the engine bay doors open. Remember there’s supposed to be a panel line down the nose where these 2 nose doors join. There’s three photo etch grills fitted to the nose, the largest of which will need some careful bending. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Step seven puts the nose on the aircraft and the cover on top at the rear gearbox.

In step eight we start adding some smaller external details. The main canopy goes in place with an overhead instrument panel fitted inside it. I’m sure some of the smaller pieces will wait to the end of the build so as not to be knocked off as the model is handled.

Step 9 adds the sliding door in either the open or closed position along with the winch.

Step 10 adds the port and starboard cockpit windows, again these can be fitted in the open or closed positions.

Step 11 adds the main and tail rotors and a few more small final details. The mesh cover on top of the main gearbox can be done with either a piece of photo etch or via some careful cutting of the supplied plastic mesh.

The next two pages cover the two decal options in this kit. Interestingly both aircraft use gloss orange (FS12197) but on the images used in the two sheets the colour varies quite significantly. Caracal decals did the UH-34J scheme for the same aircraft on the same base in the same year (1968) in 2013. Interestingly they called it a UH-34D and had the stars and bars under the fuselage in a slightly different position. I suspect Italeri is correct here though since the UH-34D was built for the US Marines, not the US Navy and the underside stars & bars look like they’re supposed to line up with the ones on top of the fuselage in other photographs online. The decals are by Cartograf and are, as always, very nicely done.

Conclusion

This is a nicely detailed kit with a couple of good bright decal options. It should be a pretty simple kit to build with no real problems apparent from looking in the box. The kit should cost around $35.50, depending where you live.

Wacth out for the build review coming as soon as I can get it done!

Many thanks to Italeri for the review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International
Scifiantasy

Categories: MBI REVIEWS

Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.

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