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Piasecki’s “Flying Banana”

September 11, 2014 in Aviation

The Piasecki H-21 Workhorse / Shawnee / Flying Banana was the US Army’s first principal helicopter in Vietnam. Deployed to Vietnam as early as December 1961, the US Army’s 8th. and 57th. Transportation Companies utilised the H-21 to haul ARVN soldiers into combat against the VC. Some H-21’s were also used in the gunship role.
The H-21 was a twin rotor design built around ONE 1425-hp Wright R-1820-103 radial piston engine. Max speed was 211 km/h. Climb rate was 329 m/min.
This is Italeri’s 1/72 scale H-21 from the 57th. Transportation Company. The model was built OOB and only cables/wires hanging below the fuselage were added. Weathering was kept at a minimum. Humbrol enamels were used to give this old bird some colour.

20 additional images. Click to enlarge

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33 responses to Piasecki’s “Flying Banana”

  1. A good job on this one, Morne….could you add a photo containing a “common object” in order we gauge the actual size of the model?

  2. Nice looking Morne, the soft edging of the camo looks great.
    Thanks for posting mate.

  3. Thanks Simon! She sure is an odd looking helicopter. The crews flying them in Vietnam must have had guts! I am sure those Army pilots recited their version of the Air Force prayer every time they flew into a hot LZ. Any pilot would have felt very exposed in that cockpit that provided minimum protection.

  4. I read the book Operation Chickenhawk by Robert Mason and that gave some graphic insights on landing in an hot zone.

  5. Strangest heli I’ve ever seen! Some great detail on a small model there! Cool build!

    • Hi Richard. It is a small model but Italeri did a good job. Even the engine is provided. Albeit, once encased in the aft fuselage one can only see a fraction of it.

      • It does look like a complex kit. If you don’t mind me asking, what is your preferred technique for bending the plastic? I am working on an Apache right now and I want to get that realistic weighted look to the rotors that you have achieved here. I’ve heard that a candle works, and also a microwave would work, but I’m no expert.

        • Italeri took care of that for me. Be VERY careful. Open flames and a microwave is something I would rather skip. On a 1/48 scale Apache I will bend the rotors with my fingers whilst holding it over a hot stove. The softness of the plastic sometimes allows you to bend it without using any heat that potentially could damge the plastic.

  6. Something a little different from you Morne. Still very nice. That part is not different. Looks like all that cockpit glass fit pretty well.

    • Thanks Al. Fortunately it came as one piece. Imagine if each panel had to be glued in place. I don’t normally build helicopters. Only ever built the Shawnee and a 1/35 scale Huey gunship.

  7. Looks great Morne, very cool subject. Do Italeri supply the mesh for the various intakes?

  8. Hello Morne. Very nice! I am catching up and have been taking a look at your albums. I am fairly new and found them very inspiring. I have the Academy Hellcat in 1/72 with the same markings so you have given me something to aim for. I enjoyed the photos. Thanks.

  9. Ohhh! I like Morne. Very well done.
    California Steve

  10. Morane,
    You did an outstanding job on this. I like everything you did with it.

  11. At first glance I thought it was a ‘what if’, but it isn’t, it’s true. What a weird looking thing that is just crying out to be modelled by an expert, and you’ve, predictably, done a superb job. Thank you for posting this, Morne.

  12. Ausgezeichnet ! Hi Morne a great looking helicopter, i like it a lot. A perfect masking job and, as common, a great love to the detail !
    Stunning, a good inspiration to start a helicopter.

  13. Hi Morne, a twenty second dip in boiling hot water and a little gentle persuasion seems to have worked very well. Not a minute in an industrial pressure steamer as was first tested as that will almost melt the plastic, but I had the sense to test it on the sprues first!

  14. You had me there for a second Morne, I wasn’t buying the camo on a US Army helicopter, but you had the proof right there in the photo’s, so I learned something new today. 🙂
    Another great looking build, as well.

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