Huey Hog gunship
This build was inspired by a scene from the movie WE WERE SOLDIERS, where Huey gunships fly in low to unleash rockets at the advancing NVA. The kit is the Academy/MRC 1/35 scale Huey Hog in the colours of the 114th Assault Helicopter Company based at Vinh Long Air Field, South Vietnam from May 1963 - Feb. 1972. During 9 years in Vietnam, the 114th participated in 16 combat campaigns and was subsequently presented with 8 unit citations:
Presidential unit Citation, for action 27/08/65 - 28/08/65.
Valorous Unit Award, for action 26/06/64.
Valorous Unit Award, for action 04/04/65 - 06/04/65.
Meritorious Unit Citation, for action 01/07/63 - 30/06/64.
Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, for action 05/05/63 - 30/06/64.
Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, for action 01/03/64 - 26/03/67.
Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, for action 27/03/67 - 18/05/68.
Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, for action 15/1269 - 10/10/70.
My model depicts 'Cobra Lead' as she appeared in action on 18/12/69. The 114th was a very dedicated and highly motivated outfit and the graffiti that adorned Cobra Lead, for the purpose of morale, attest to that. The graffiti "VC for lunch club" and "VC for lunch bunch" seems to have been a favourite since it adorned many of their Huey's. The graffiti on the plexiglass windows, simulated with a white paint marker, was also common practise at the time. A condom was also placed as a precautionary measure over the barrel of the grenade launcher in the ball turret to protect against debris and dirt entering the barrel. In lieu of this the crew applied the graffiti "VC birth control." I replicated the condom with Parafilm M.
A lot of scratch-building went into this build and seriously prolonged the build. The following improvements were made: The engine was suitably detailed from reference photos using a mixture of copper wire, plastic parts from the spares box and Evergreen Styrene. The mesh on the Engine bay doors were replicated with suitable pieces cut from the veil of my wife's wedding dress. 🙂
The FM communications aerial next to the tail rotor assembly was made from copper wire. The antenna strung along the tail boom was made from fine fishing line and was glued onto sewing needles and attached to the tail boom. The ball turret for the XM-5 grenade launcher received some bristles from an old brush to simulate the bristles that had to keep dirt and debris from entering the opening between the barrel and the turret. The main rotor stabilising bars were replicated with sewing needles as the kit parts were too thick.
The cabin roof was suitably festooned with the coiled wires from the crew's communication gear. This was replicated with fine copper wire. The microphones attached to the crew's helmets were fashioned out of bits of Evergreen styrene and copper wire. The biggest challenge was hooking the crew's communication gear up to the roof after the cabin was closed up! The seat harnesses were made out of newspaper cut to size and fitted with copper wire buckles. The perforated blast shields in front of the sliding doors were made out of Evergreen styrene.
I wanted the crew of 'Cobra Lead' to exhibit the gung ho, can do attitude of the 114th AHC. Therefore, they had to have moustaches replicated with an HB pencil. The door gunner did not adhere to regulations and subsequently traded some Tiger Stripe trousers from a Special Forces soldier. The standing figure with his 'pig' in hand advertises himself as a 'hired gun.' The latter was applied using a fine tipped permanent black marker. Operating in a dusty and humid environment meant suitable weathering was called for. Various shades of olive drab and faded olive drab from Modelmaster was used to replicate a well used appearance. Doc O' Brien's weathering powder was used to simulate the red Vietnamese dust and mud.
Seeing that the 114th was heavily committed to combat operations, their Huey's received their fair share of combat damage. The pilot's door has received some attention from a VC armed with an AK 47. Fortunately the ground crew has added some armour plating to the inside of the pilot and co-pilot's doors. Needless to say those bullets DID dent the armour on the inside of the door. The bullet holes were fashioned with a scalpel and the dents on the armour plating inside of the door was made with a hot needle.
'Cobra Lead' is armed with the impressive XM-3 system which consisted of 48 folding fin rockets in four six-tube banks each side of the helicopter. They could be fired by the pilot and co-pilot through a Mk. VIII reticle sight. The XM-5 grenade launcher mounted in a ball turret fired 40 mm grenades that were chute-fed from a drum and chute system in the rear cabin. It contained a total of 150 rounds, 75 in the chute and 75 in the drum.