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Italeri H-21 Shawnee

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/48 scale plastic model aircraft kit

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Early in the Vietnam War, the Piasecki H-21 lived up to its U.S. Air Force sobriquet, Workhorse, lifting and transporting just about anything — supplies, vehicles, downed aircraft, troops; you name it, it hauled it.

The box labels the aircraft as an H-21C Shawnee, the U.S. Army designation, but the decals include markings for USAF and French H-21Bs.

I’ve built 1/48 scale H-21s from Fonderie Miniatures and Special Hobby, and I can say that, despite a few problems, Italeri’s Flying Banana is the best of the bunch.

Features include crisp panel lines, a nice cockpit, and detailed rotor hubs.

The cockpit and cargo compartment went together fine, with a single-part floor for both sections. Photo-etched (PE) seat belts dress up the pilot seats, but there are none for the troop seating.

The engine compartment doors can be posed open to reveal a decently detailed Wright Cyclone; you don’t see much, but it’s a nice touch. I left one open. The access-door hinges and lockdowns were a bit over-scale, which made for some tricky decal work.

Instructions show the interior being installed in the starboard fuselage half, but the location was unclear. Glue the rear bulkhead forward of the rib.

Optional early or late rudders are provided. I used the late, broader version which was more common.

I shimmed the opening for the lower main-gear struts (Part 35B) and light fairings (parts 7A and 8A) on the belly for a snug fit. After gluing .010-inch strip styrene around the edges, I sanded until the parts fit perfectly.

I struggled with the fit of the main cockpit glass. I dipped it in Pledge FloorCare Multi-Surface Finish for shine and to protect the part from the copious super glue used to attach and fill gaps. I spliced in .020-inch styrene to fill a gap between the part and the top of the fuselage. To correct a mismatch along the same seam, I attached a strip of .020- x .060-inch styrene and blended it with the fuselage.

Underneath, the glass was too wide. So, I cracked the bottom seam on the fuselage and inserted a hobby knife blade to spread the halves to better match the parts. Then I pinched the glass to meet the body and ran super glue into the seam. After it dried, I filled gaps with more super glue, sanded the area smooth, and polished the plastic in preparation for metallic paint.

Assembly of the jewel-like rotor hubs was pretty easy. Be careful: The rotors differ, with the front rotating counterclockwise and the rear clockwise.

I spent 32 hours on Italeri’s Shawnee, much of it fixing the cockpit glass. That alone makes the kit better suited to builders with a little experience.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2017 issue.
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