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1/48 Academy MH-53E Sea Dragon, HM-14 Vanguard - Vulcan 552, 2011

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Hi all!


After about 3 months, this one is finally finished!  The 1/48 Academy MH-53E Sea Dragon from HM-14 Vanguard, callsign "Vulcan 552", circa 2013.  This aircraft was destroyed in an accident in June 2012, but with no injuries or fatalities luckily.


I have wanted to build this kit for quite some time, but wanted to wait until I felt my abilities were high enough to do it justice.  Well that time is now!  The Academy kit is really quite nice, great detail, and it really fits very nice everywhere.  I used very little putty on this build.  But there is one big achilles heel with this kit.  There are no rivets.  The actual aircraft has them EVERYWHERE.  So I decided to try my hand at adding rivets for the first time.  I did so using the RB Rivet-R tool, and it worked very nicely!   It was, however, VERY time consuming and VERY tedious.  It took me pretty much a full week to do it all, as I could only do so much in one sitting before I had to leave it be.  The one nice thing is that apparently Academy must have intended to add panel lines where the rows of rivets should be, because there are VERY faint lines where the rows of rivets should be.  They are hard to see, but if you use some lighting and look at certain angles they can be seen and used as a guide for the rivet tool and tape.























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I tried to type two more paragraphs in my original post but they gave me errors.  I will try to post them here:


I used some aftermarket for this kit.  Some Eduard exterior photoetch, Wolfpack MH-53E update set, and Res-kit refueling boom.  The decals were mostly OOB and Vulcan 552 specific decals came from the Wolfpack set.  All decals from both manufacturers performed flawlessly.  I was very impressed.  The only issue I had was the kit supplied walkway decals are a rather light gray, and from the pics I saw they should be either black or faded to almost the color of the rest of the exterior.  So I used some white glue mixed with baby powder and Tamiya Rubber Black paint to recreate the color and texture of these walkways.


I decided to pose the model with folder rotors and non-folded tail because I have seen pics like this and like the look.  BUT, I found out the hard way near the end of the build that the model is a tail-sitter in this configuration once I added the folded rotors.  I had to put some fishing weights on blue tac (all painted black for reduced visibility) in the cargo area to offset this and to get it to sit flat.  If I had it to do over, I would have put one or two fishing weights at the front of each sponson to keep the nose down.


I still have trouble with Helos compared to jets, to me there are just harder.  But I feel like I made some big strides in my helo building capability with this project, so that makes me happy.

Edited by Fighting Eighty-Four
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Looks like you put a lot of extra effort into this build.  From what I can see, it looks like a great build.  Wish I could have something this nice in my display cabinet.


Just my opinion, but I think the pictures would be better with a light colored background or the use of a flash.


Thanks for sharing!



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On 8/1/2020 at 2:14 AM, dylan said:

beautiful job


Thanks Dylan!


On 8/1/2020 at 8:35 AM, Cubs2jets said:

Looks like you put a lot of extra effort into this build.  From what I can see, it looks like a great build.  Wish I could have something this nice in my display cabinet.


Just my opinion, but I think the pictures would be better with a light colored background or the use of a flash.


Thanks for sharing!




Thanks C2j!  


I do like the black background for my pics, although I agree for a dark subject like this it may not be the best choice.  Sometimes I go for artsy style photos and admit that may not be the best for showing the model.


On 8/1/2020 at 1:05 PM, Curt B said:

Very nicely done!  I have the same kit, as yet unbuilt, and I only hope mine turns out as nice!!!


Thanks Curt!  I look forward to seeing you build it.  It really is a great kit!


On 8/1/2020 at 8:11 PM, Rocketdrvr said:

Nice Build!  I have the same kit in the stash and I’m going to do it very similar to your build with the exception of doing the folded tail rotor!


Do you have a in build on the kit?


Thanks Rocketdrvr!  


I did do a WIP album on Scalemates, it can be seen here:





On 8/2/2020 at 3:27 AM, Ichitoe said:

Fantastic build! Well done!


Thanks Ichitoe!

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/5/2020 at 1:25 PM, Specter1075 said:

Wow, what a build! This looks fantastic!


Thanks Specter!


On 8/5/2020 at 3:54 PM, caudleryan said:

Another incredible build! I believe that no matter what you build, aircraft or helicopters, they all turn out top notch! 


Thanks so much Ryan!  Helicopters are a bit tougher for me to build, but I am trying to build more of them and they seem to get a little easier for me after each one.


On 8/5/2020 at 9:47 PM, Rocketdrvr said:

Thanks for the link! 👍


No prob!


On 8/13/2020 at 4:48 PM, Night Owl Models said:

That's one beast of a helicopter I like that you folded the blades decal and weathering look great too.


Thanks Night Owl!  I really love the look of the folded rotors but with the non-folded tail.  Probably not a very likely configuration, but it looks cool!  


On 8/22/2020 at 11:18 AM, picknpluck said:

Nice work! I've got this kit and I'm working up the nerve to take on the riveting job. 


Thanks P&P!  Yeah, the riveting job is very daunting because there are just so many!  I had never done it before, but it got easier as I went once I figured out what best worked for me.  Even still, I could only do so much before I had enough and let it sit for another day of riveting.  This went on for the better part of a week or so. LOL


On 8/25/2020 at 6:32 PM, Drake64 said:

Great work :thumbsup:


Thanks Drake!


On 8/26/2020 at 2:40 PM, Sodasorb said:

I hope the MH-53 in my stash comes out close to looking as good as yours!  Fantastic build.


Thanks Soda!   I look forward to seeing yours some day.


On 8/27/2020 at 1:15 AM, Bell209 said:

I like that


Thanks Rob!

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