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The SFC Rudy Ortiz Project

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On 11/27/77, my brother Rudy left to report for boot camp. At 18, he had joined the Army and was preparing to head out to Ft. Knox for basic training. At the time I was only 3 and I don't remember him leaving.

Here's his graduation photo and a few pix of him at the ceremony, circa 1978:




After Ft. Knox, Rudy was stationed in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, and training to become a helicopter mech. I remember that when my mom and I were together and a helicopter would fly over, my mom would say, "There goes Rudy. Wave and say hi to Rudy." And I would. I'd wave and say "Hi Rudy!" However, the truth was I didn't really know what a "brother" or a "Rudy" was. As a matter of fact, I thought a brother was a whirling, noisy machine in the sky. For the longest time I thought my brother was a helicopter.

I remember how confused I was when I first found out that my brother was a person and not a machine.

Here are two from around '79. One of him and some buddies in Germany (He's in the upper right with the 'stache), and one with mom and dad:



Late one evening, I had been sleeping and I don't remember why I had woken up, but I remember walking out of the bedroom and through the hallway, only to stop and stare at a stranger standing in one of the bathrooms. At about the same time, my mom came into the hall and said, "Say hi to Rudy." That's when my brother turned around and picked me up. I don't remember what happened after that, but I know that was the first time I remember seeing my brother, and my first memory of him.

So, for him, I'll be building a Blackhawk.


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Actually, I started building it back on the first, when the GB started. I've been making progress, so I thought I'd show some pictures of what I've done.

The Minicraft kit is very basic. It has very little detail, so I thought I'd add just a few pieces here and there to help bring the build to life. I decided to build the cabin empty, and started with the cabin and cockpit. I added some pieces of plastic rod to give the pilots' seats some life:


Along with the seat supports, I added some very basic armor to the seat sides:


The area under the cabin floor near the chin windows was boxed in to avoid being able to "look through" the cabin:





I also boxed in the the pillars in front of the sliding doors, hiding the landing gear struts that are basically glued to the cabin walls:


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To give the cabin some "depth", I decided to use some painted kitchen foil to represent some of the soundproofing. It's not accurate, but it does give a sense of fabric and texture:



Speaking of texture, I used some Band-Aids to make some headrests and cushions for the pilots' seats:


To further dress up the interior I made some "packs" out of blobs of white Miliput to be glued to the seats, and some extinguishers for the cabin:



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I need to get the windows glued into place before I can close up the fuse. I also need to flat coat the interior, but as of now, here's what it looks like:



While the fuse halves are still not joined, I'm gonna do some exterior work too. I've done my best to replicate a countermeasures rack that's installed on the port side of the boom. It's not perfect, but it'll pass. Here's a picture of it dryfitted in place:



(For comparison, here's the real-deal:)



Anyway, that's where I'm at with this build. Thanks for lookin', and feel free to share your two cents.



(EDIT: Sorry for the size of the pix in the first post, and for the rotated pix in the last. Stupid Photobucket!)

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I'm fascinated by the amount of detail you've scratch-built. I gave away a tactical helo kit last year because I was afraid of all the fiddly bits that exist in and around the cabin. Good on you to not shy away from the challenge. I can tell this is a labour of love.

Neat story about your brother, especially the part where you were taught to associate a helicopter with him. I still remember my wife telling me about my 3 year-old son seeing a CF-18 fly by overhead, pointing up and saying "papa"... very touching.


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My brother’s training got him started turning wrenches on OH-58 Kiowas. After the Kiowas, he got trained on Hueys when he rotated back stateside. He told me that he’s worked on UH-1Ds and -Ms, but spent most of his career working on Army -Hs at Los Alamitos Army Airfield in Southern California.

Here’s a pic of my brother (on the right) while he was out in the field with his unit:


As for me, school has started so I haven't had as much time to model as I would like. Still, I'm following everyone's great progress, and taking small forward steps on my projects as time allows.

The fit of the windows on the Blackhawk’s rear doors, and the rear doors themselves, was terrible. I had to use superglue to fair them into the door. Also, I had to add some strip stock to the forward part of the door to keep it from falling into the cabin through the door opening.


Actually, the fit of ALL the clear parts is terrible. Unfortunately, I’ve had to use superglue to install them all and it marred or fogged the transparencies. I’ve had to do some serious sanding to get a decent fit. The only benefit to using CA is that it filled all the gaps. (Looks like I have some polishing in my future…)



But before I close up the fuse, I figured I’d start on the prominent antenna that runs along the port side of the boom. Here’s the start of my reproduction versus the real one.



I’m not totally happy with the countermeasures rack I built for the boom. I may try again. We’ll see how my second attempt turns out.

Just as an aside, tomorrow is not only a day of remembrance, but it happens to be my brother's last day in the military. After 35 years, he's retiring.

Anyway, I'll post more pix as soon as I make some more progress. Feel free to provide any feedback. In the meantime, thanks for lookin'!



Edited by oortiz10
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You're definitely adventurous! I shy away from sanding down clear parts, although I know (from experience redoing the lenses on my minivan) that it can be done successfully. The payoff will come though, in terms of fit and finish.

I'm liking the pics of your brother. Happy retirement to him. I lasted 20 years in the Canadian Air Force; 35 years is quite the achievement. I'm also impressed with the scratchbuilding (antenna, CM dispenser).


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  • 5 months later...


I can't believe that the last time I worked on the Blackhawk was back in Sept. On the eve of my brother's retirement no less. Since the gracious host of the National Reserves GB allowed crossovers, I decided to put this bad boy back on the bench and make some progress on it. That and the end of this GB is rapidly approaching... (All my work will be posted in both GB forums.)

WARNING: If you're squeamish or a member of P.E.P.P.L (People for the Ethical Protection of Panel Lines) this thread may not be for you. Many panel lines were obliterated during the course of this build. Consider yourselves warned.

Last time I left you, I was focusing on blending in the transparencies and the fuse halves hadn't been joined yet. Well, as of now, the fuse halves have been joined and some other parts have been attached, but I'm still working on the transparencies.

I glued the rear deck onto the fuse but noticed that part of the arch that makes up part of the exhaust assembly didn't line up.



I used a little square stock to fill the gap, then sanded the protruding part of the arch flush with the fuselage. (Sorry, no "after" pic.)

Once that was done, I worked on the rear part of the exhausts. Again, the parts didn't line up.


That "lip" is supposed to be on the real thing, so I needed to find a way to get 'em to line up. So, I sanded off the lip from the kit part and replaced it with a piece of plastic stock. Then I sanded things to get 'em to line up.

This pic was taken while things were in the works. It looks a little rough here but better in person.


I'm sure it'll look fine under paint.

Here are some pix of the fuse all closed up. The first one is of the fuse before I started working on the exhausts...


...and this second one is after the exhaust work. (Notice the attention to the spot on the top of the port exhaust. That's where I glued myself to my work. Still in the clean up phase. D'Oh!)


The last thing I worked on is the antenna that runs along the port side of the tail boom.


It's not perfect, but I go for representation not replication.

Anyway, that's where this thing is at now. I'm hoping to get it done by the end of the GB. Feel free to share your thoughts. Don't hesitate to drop your two cents into the bucket on your way out.

Thanks for lookin'!


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