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Academy 1/48 scale CH-46E "Bull Frog"

Kit: No. 2226
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Academy, imported by Model Rectifier Corp., 80 Newfield Ave., P.O. Box 6312, Edison, NJ 08837, 732-225-2100, www.modelrectifier.com
Price: $49.50
Comments: Injection-molded, 215 parts, decals
Pros: Good fit, excellent interior detail, lots of "bolt-on" extras including armor, ECM, guns, and flotation bags
Cons: Recessed panel detail a bit heavy for the scale, cabin seat arrangement tricky, rotor heads are basic
The Boeing CH-46E "Bull Frog" (I've always heard it called "Battle Frog" - the proper name is Sea Knight) is the latest version of the Marine Corps mainstay transport helicopter for the last 40 years. Academy has provided all the updates including ECM antennas, engine armor panels chaff/flare dispensers, missile jammers ("disco lights") and the enlarged sponsons with greater fuel capacity. Panel lines are recessed, although a bit wide and deep. The 20 parts marked "not for use" lead me to believe that there's another version coming.

The rotor heads are simple five-part assemblies, but they have basic details. You might want to add some wiring and hoses. The rotor blades are marked B39 and B40 (three each), but they're actually the same. Just make sure you install them correctly. The front unit rotates counter-clockwise, when viewed from above, and the back rotates clockwise. Data decals for the rotor blades are shown going on top and bottom, but with only six provided, I placed them on the top surfaces.

One of the highlights of the kit is the cabin interior. Cabin walls are separate pieces, and molded-in detail and several decals enhance the inside. Even with the ramp down and the right-side cabin door open, you can't see many of the smaller items. You get folding canvas seats and litters that mount to the walls, but determining which holes to drill out in the walls to mount the seats is tricky. Also, the seat legs should go in drilled holes in the floor, but you don't have a chance to check them until you bring the fuselage together.

You also have to drill through flashed-over holes for the ECM antennas, armor plating, and float bags, so study the diagrams and remember which version you are working on. The "Marine One" Presidential/VIP transport doesn't carry many of the extras.

The cockpit is fairly straightforward, with raised details on the panels and consoles. Optional panel decals are provided. The seats come with side armor but no seat belts.

Be careful in step 10 when assembling the machine gun mounts. The holes in parts H29 are offset, and if you put them in upside down, the guns won't fit right.

The instructions show a little surgery to the rear ramp depending on whether you want it open or closed. All the interior pieces fit perfectly when I closed the fuselage halves. The clear windscreen and door pieces sat proud of the fuselage, but they were consistent all the way around.

The rest of the project went smoothly. I chose the markings for Marine Squadron 261 "Raging Bulls." The decals were well printed but stuck quickly. Other options are Squadron 162 "Golden Eagles," and Squadron 1 "Nighthawks" with "Marine One" markings. I used only two-thirds of the abundant stencil decals.

The finished model looks the part, especially with the appliquÈ armor, flotation bags, and machine guns sticking out. If I were to make another, I'd put more time into detailing the rotor heads and not fussing with the seat mounts. I spent 18 hours on my "frog," and look forward to more versions to come.

- Larry Schramm

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