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Clear Prop! UH-2A/B Seasprite

Build review of the 1/72 scale helicopter kit with realistically fine exterior details
The Ukrainian outfit Clear Prop! is a relative newcomer, but its efforts are on a level with some of the best plastic kit manufacturers. The quality of the plastic parts in this kit was extremely good, with fine recessed panel and rivet detail and petite small parts. The bonus of dozens of photo-etched (PE) copper details and well-printed decals, makes this little Seasprite quite a package.

That said, putting it all together is a task. Normally, I avoid using PE parts if they are optional for plastic, but some of the PE details in this kit are not optional, rather being crucial to assembly.

The color instruction pamphlet has 22 digestible steps and multi-view diagrams for painting and decaling. Starting with the interior, the kit offers a detailed cockpit with seats, collective and cyclic controls, instrument panel and consoles, and a passenger cabin with webbing seats. The cockpit seat frames are PE and must be folded and wrapped around the plastic seats. I painted my cushions orange following photos. The instructions don’t mention the choice of flat or relief-detail instrument panel and consoles. I chose the flat ones and applied the decal details.

Step 10 shows assembly of the engine compartment. This early single-engine Seasprite had a scoop intake on the right side of the compartment. The kit parts include the compressor fan, exhaust structure, and curved ducts for the intake. Very little of this is visible once the model is assembled.

Moving to the landing gear, you’re instructed to cut off the extra wheel axle on each main strut. Early Seasprites had one wheel on each main strut, while the later, twin-engined choppers had two wheels. And there are four wheels in the kit, so it’s likely Clear Prop! is planning later Seasprite kits.

The positioning of the landing gear parts isn’t clear in the diagrams of Step 12. I recommend careful examination, dry-fitting, and tacking parts in place to ease adjustment. Complicating matters are the part number callouts for both right and left strut assembly shown together in one view.

My sample windscreen had some small flaws molded into the clear plastic. I like that the three doors are molded in clear plastic; masking the windows and painting the doors works better than fitting tiny clear parts after painting.

On the outside, there are some 20-odd tiny PE details such as tie-down rings, antennas, and grilles.

The real chore was assembling the main rotor. The hub consists of four plastic parts, and there are four plastic blades. In between, though, are six PE parts that must be folded to shape and one more plastic part — for each blade! The diagrams do not adequately show how to fold the fragile, thin copper PE parts. The copper is so soft, that it will fold only once — go too far or try to bend it back and it will tear. Also, the parts are really tiny, difficult to handle, and one of them slipped from my tweezers and disappeared while I was folding it. There are no plastic alternatives for the PE parts that hold the main rotors, and no spares. There is another, tiny, folded, spidery PE part for the torque rotor hub, and it has 12 folds in it! Fortunately, they provide three of those; I lost one, successfully installed the second, and have a third just in case.

After final assembly, I painted the model overall engine gray. The well-printed decals went on trouble free! I chose to do the plane-guard chopper from the USS Oriskany from 1968. A separate decal sheet provides dozens of tiny stencils, but I chose to bypass that opportunity.

I spent 41 hours on this little chopper. That’s a lot of work for me for a model this size. I applaud Clear Prop! for a beautifully detailed kit, and hope they consider that complexity is not necessarily appreciated by the average builder.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2020 issue.
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