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"On a Steelhorse I ride" - MH-53J Pave Low and HH-53C Jolly Green Giant in 1:72

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Books are always an inspiration, especially when they deal with one of our favorite topics. Currently I´m reading "On a Steel Horse I ride", a documentation about the "Pave Low" and the first Combat Rescue versions of the Sikorsky H-53 model.




You can buy this book as paperback at Amazon, but why should you? It´s available for free as PDF on the website of Air University Press:




So, reading this brought up my old idea of completing my partial "Pave Low" respective HH-53-collection. So far I have the "first" version of the HH-53C, still in grey, which looks like this:




Also some time ago I built the latest version of the Pave Low, the MH-53J (I know it´s the "M", but apparently I got the designation wron when I opened up the WIP then) in grey camoflage:



As usually known this leaves at least two other subjects uncovered, the classic HH-53C Super Jolly Green Giant in SEA-camo and the first MH-53J Pave Low in the three-tone Europe I camoflage.  Actually I DID built these, but the green Pave Low was done directly after Italeri released the model in the early 90ies and the result isn´t pleasing my eyes anymore (I already dumped the model a couple of weeks ago in a big clean-up-operation at my parents house). And yes, I also have a SEA HH-53C, but this was started by my younger brother and later finished by me, and while it´s still looking ok, it lacks a lot of typical details, for example the armament.


Anyway, I went shopping...: 😄





The Bo-105 was a pleasent bycatch and my fellow modellers in my german forum have already raised interest in the kit, but all of this is not for sale! Mine, everything! 🙂

The Airfix-kits will be the ones I build for this WIP, and the Italeri-kit will be robbed of all typical Pave Low-details. I also ordered a couple of miniguns from Armycast and will make good use of them.


First helo to build will be the MH-53J.


Initial work was detailing the interiour, so I started with some stretched sprue to add the inner braces.




If you look closely, you can see the production date of this model: 1981!  In my eyes still the best representation of the HH-53 in this scale!




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In my eyes the Airfix-kit, although the oldest one, is still the best looking CH/HH-53. Italeri/Revell has only little details on the outside (and I love those rivets on the Airifix-kit!) and the Fujimi is a kit I never built.


Another pro of Airfix: The cargo bay has a "roof".




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HAJO, I have built both the Airfix HH-53C and Italeri PAVE LOW as an Israeli S-65C. That was years ago and I honestly can't remember the positives and negatives of each kit. I do have a Fujimi CH-35D that I would like to include in a LPH deck diorama along with AH-1T, UH-1N, & CH-46E kits, someday. Possibly a AV-8C too! So I will be watching your work closely.  I agree that a cabin roof is a big plus for the Airfix kit.

Kind regards, Dutch 

Edited by Dutch
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Thank you, guys!


According to scalemates this specific kit has been produced in 1986 - so the decals (and parts) are 34 years old!


But they still set like a charm!




Invisible thread is flexible and reacts to plastic cement, so it´s perfect to use for simulating the cables of the instrument panel:





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I'm also firmly of the opinion that the Airfix kit (the plastic in both CH and HH boxings is identical) remains the best representation of the H-53...

....below are a couple of pics of my early-90's builds - a 67th ARRS HH-53C and a 21st SOS MH-53J - both with fully-detailed interiors (cabin roof shown)...

....the Pave Low - built as you intend to do yours, using Italeri parts - won the Scale Aircraft Modelling magazine trophy at the IPMS(UK) Nationals in 1993!




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Andy, great work!


I owe you guys some in-Progress-Pictures.




Here is some first detailling, I focussed on those parts that can be seen later on when the fuselage is closed. 




On the port-side I added a life-raft (?) and the typical "electronics rack" of the Pave Low. It´s not fixed yet, and I´m sure it needs to go a bit mor aft to make room for the ammo-box. 


On star-port I also added a little "stash" which apparently holds some electronical equipment of the winch. Also, my two 3D-printed dirtbikes came into play and found their place close to the ramp, Ready for a speedy embarkement. 




Idea is that the Pave Low is infiltrating a small 2-men recon-team with dirtbikes.



Edited by Hajo L.
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I wasn´t lazy, but did a lot of scratchbuilding which means the progress is slow due to parts producing and a lot of pre-planning.


As usually, crew figures are a major part of my helicopter-builds and also as usually I´m a bit hesitant to start doing these figures, but as soon as I start, it´s going fast.




My two Special Forces Recon-guys are seen above, already having taken seat. Since the ground plate is fixed to the other part of the fuselage, I needed to be careful to get their feet in a good position.

Then you can see one of the the excellent casted Army Cast Miniguns. I had to cut off the cartridge-dispenser opening, since the Pave Lows apparently never used the plastic tubes for the empty shells, but a sort of plastic bag directly below the gun instead.


Finally the helicopter crew (sans ramp-gunner), with the two pilots from the kit (I cut off their right arms and gave them new ones to make them look like they are busy), an engineer (a figure from Revell Pilots Set) and my two front gunners (Esci/Italeri "Ground Crew Set").


Quite some thinking went into the process of how to attach the port-side minigun.




As you can see, the port-side minigun uusally needs to be attached to a port-side window. However, it also needs to be attached to the ammo-box, which is glued to the ground-plate, which is already glued to the starport-side. I finally choose to glue the minigun and the ammo-belt to the box, making sure that the gun-mount is neatly close to the window-frame when the two fuselage halves meet.


I need to be careful with handling this part of the model to not break off the gun, but so far it´s working.




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On 9/5/2020 at 11:09 AM, Hajo L. said:

Very good subject Hajol

I like your build so far...and will follow it with more interesting of the way you add a lot scratched items details! :thumbsup:

Also just want to ask your guys, did the MPC kit was re-box of Airfix kit? cheer,

let_models, 🙂



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Since the Miniguns don´t have the plastic tubes for the empty cartridges, I made my own plastic bags instead, using Tamiya-tape:




I´m pretty satisfied with the results.




So, now it was time to place the crew and the electronics-rack inside and prepare the fuselage halves for mating:







And that´s the current status:




I already made some small paint adjustments, and will most likely use Revells Acrylic 39 for the darker green and 65 for the olive-green.




Hydraulics for the aft ramp are simply done by using a small piece of round sprue and glue some tamiya-tape to simulate the cylinder.




And the pilots have taken a seat.




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The M2 is from a Roco Minitank-set. I ordered a couple of Resin-Ms from ResKit out of Ukraine, but they looked too small to me. The Roco M2s are 1/87, but way too big for that scale and fit perfect in 1/72. Only thing I used from ResKit was the Ammobox. The three additional boxes are scratchbuild.





The gunner is a figure from the Esci/Italeri "Pilots and Ground Crew Set" - the pilot that holds a bottle is now holding something more deadly. 😉 

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Also in the meantime all of the additional parts and stuff - either scratchbuilt or from the Italeri Pave-Low-kit - have been glued to the Airfix-model:






I need to look if I find some old engine outlets in my stash, those original ones of the Airfix-kit look awful...:




And a last look into the cabin before the ramp and the aft gunner are in the way:






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First layer of green, using Revells 65:




The darker green is Revell 39 - on the picture it is looking good, but I think I could also have used a lighter green for the 65 as well. The 39 is spot on.




On a brighter background the very dark Impression of that combo so far is clearly visible:




Anyway, I´ll keep it and added the final touches of the three-tone-camo with Revell 77, which resembles Gunship Grey. 






Now the decals are the next step.






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An observation, Hajo, which hopefully will be easy to fix - I noticed that you've fitted the IR jammer mounts onto the outer edges of the fuel tank mounts, when they should be set into them. It's not easy to see on my model above, but this photo of the mount point without the jammer unit shows what I mean:


And this shot of a broken bird with the unit in place shows it even more clearly:


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@let_models: Thank you!

The front portion with the TFR and the FLIR needed some work to cover gaps between the part and the nose, but nothing serious.


@Andy: Dammit!! I missed that on my previous builds! I´m afraid I will have to keep it this way, since my "grey"-version is already done with that mistake... And it seem to be not thaaat obvious, otherwise I would have noticed myself and much earlier. 😉




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