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Italeri 1/48 scale SH-60B Seahawk

Kit: No. 2620
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Italeri, imported by Testor, 440 Blackhawk Park Ave., Rockford, IL 61104-5158, 815-962-6654, www.testors.com
Price: $20
Comments: Injection-molded, 147 parts, decals
Pros: Good exterior detail, lots of lumps and bumps, optional folded rotors, good cabin detail
Cons: Basic cockpit detail, decal instrument panels, poor fit in places, inaccurate color recommendations
Although similar to the venerable HH-60 Blackhawk, the SH-60B is an altered airframe strengthened for ship-borne use. Loaded with the latest in sonar, radar, and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) gear, the Seahawk is festooned with myriad bumps and bulges that differentiate it from the Army version.

Italeri's SH-60B is molded in three sprues of light-gray plastic and one sprue of clear parts. They reveal finely engraved panel lines with some raised rivet detail. The main rotor blades are molded with built-in sag - a nice touch. Two torpedoes and the MAD drogue "bird" are included. As is common with Italeri, several tiny parts are molded separately and appear fragile.

The left cockpit and right cabin doors can be posed open or closed, and the rotor blades can be either extended for flight or folded for storage. Two decal options are provided, one U.S. Navy and one Japanese Air Self Defense Force.

Cockpit detail is mediocre. Although tail-rotor pedals, cyclic sticks, and collectives are supplied, the front seats have only a simple representation of harnesses. The weakest part of the cockpit is that decals are provided for the instrument panel, console, and overhead panels. In 1/72 scale, decal panels are OK, but they're too featureless for 1/48 scale.

The detail in the aft cabin is good, but the seats lack belts and, again, decals are provided for the MAD gear operator's station. The detail on the sonobuoy dispenser is excellent, however, and looks nice through the open door when finished.

Assembly of the fuselage halves is tricky, as there are no positive locators (pins or shelves) for the cockpit and cabin floors. The fuselage halves don't fit along the long bottom seam, perhaps because I misplaced the cabin floor. Also, the opening for the door on the right side allows the fuselage to flex too much, complicating the fit of adjoining parts. I spent a lot of time fitting the windscreen.

Most small parts fit well, except for the engine intakes, which needed a lot of sanding and filing for a decent fit. The long seams in the curved exhaust nozzles are hard to fix. Most of the small antenna bulges and bumps fit well with little or no filler needed, though. I had to use filler between the weapons pylons and the fuselage. I left the steps, mirrors, wheels, and pitot tubes off until after painting.

Italeri's recommended camouflage colors don't match references. I used the correct grays, FS 36495 (bottom), FS 36375 (sides), and FS 36320 (top). The decals were a little thick, but went on nicely and responded well to Micro-Sol.

The last steps were adding all the small parts and the windows. The clear parts are well molded, but fitting them into their openings took some additional scraping and filing. The main windscreen framing is lightly engraved, and it's difficult to pick out when masking for painting. The open door to the cockpit lacks interior detail. I like the folded rotor option, and it works well. It also saves space on my display shelf!

Italeri's SH-60B captures the insect-like appearance of the real chopper. All of the bumps and bulges make it look seriously functional.

I would recommend this model only to modelers with experience handling fit problems. My 30 hours on the project produced a fine-looking replica of the Navy's workhorse helicopter. Just like an A-10 Warthog, the Seahawk looks so ugly it's almost cute.

- Randy Dieck

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