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UH-1D Slick, 187th AHC Blackhawks / Paintwork

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Dear all.


my current project is to build a UH-1D from the 187th AHC, Blackhawks, Tay Ninh 1967.

PrintScale offers a fine decal sheet but the overall painting instructions are insufficient.

I already carried out quite a lot of research but would like to ask if someone else could contribute to this topic.

Here’s what I could find out / assume so far:

- Main rotor blades: A short clip on Youtube suggests that one upper blade was painted white while the other was painted OD.

  The clip shows helicopter of the Crusaders but I assume that this was implmented unit wide.

- The skids on 829, Super Huey seem to be OD with yellow details.

- The M23 gun mounts could be OD too.

- On other Blackhawks choppers it looks that the elevators are OD without the widely used orange upper surfaces.

- Behind the upper cockpit windows, it seem that there is a white stripe, probably for aerial recognition.

- Another helicopter of the Blackhawks wears yellow details on the verticla fin root, but I have no indication that this was worn by 829 too.  Maybe it was a unit wide feature


Any further information would be highly appreciated!


Many thanks in advance and bets regards


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I'm not familiar with the unit and specific helo, but the colors on the skid s and tail usually varied by companies, A red, B white, C blue, d yellow (or something along those lines.  The stripe up top of the fuselage was also similar. 


The blades were OD on top and black on the underside.  Depending on timeframe, they went from just the yellow tips, to a white stripe across the middle of one, to one being all white on top for recognition from above to keep other helos from hitting the blades.

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Are you sure the helicopter you’re referring to is a 187th aircraft? The 187th used the callsign Gladiators for their slicks (and Rat Pack for their guns) The slicks have a white shield with a red cross on the battery door. Blackhawk is one of two cavalry units in Vietnam; D Troop Second Squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment, or 7th Squadron, 1st Cavalry. What design is on the nose?


The Army designated that the upper surface of the main rotor blades (on two bladed helicopters) were to be painted white on one blade and black on the other. This means Hueys and Cobras. This was to make us visible to fast movers (i.e. Fighters) with whom we shared the same airspace. 

With Army helicopters it’s best to go with the photo you’ve got. Due to heavy operational requirements (typically 50-75 flying hours per week) and rapid turnover due to damage or loss, it was rare to see any Hueys with all of the designated markings. 


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Rats! Don’t know why I put Gladiators; their callsign was Crusaders. Also, they apparently used the Blackhawk callsign for a very short time when they first arrived in-country but the Cav was already using it and they had to change to Crusaders. Would be interested in seeing the photo you have.



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Dear all,


thanks  a lot for your comments!


I'm quite sure, that the helicopter belongs to the 187th AHC.

The nose art shows a stylized black eagle on a blue background.

Some pictures can be found here:



Some more pictures can be found in: “Vietnam War Army Helicopter Nose Art” from John Brennan

I'm aware that due to operational requirements and the personal preferences of the crew the appearance of unit helicopters often differed,

A very interesting example is "Electric Banana" a Dust Off UH-1, where the tail boom had to be replaced and the heli has been returned to service without painting so that the tail maintained its chromate primer.

I already contacted the 187th AHC association too, but did not get a reply yet.

So far, bets regards


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Sven, after additional research by my good friend and Vietnam Veteran Michael Campbell, he came up with this narrative from the 187th:


To amplify the information previously provided the following data pertaining to the unit's name and name change was extracted from the 187th AHC's official records.


31 March 1967  - The Blackhawks returned to their Tay Ninh Roost after two weeks of training with the 11th and 145th Combat Aviation Battalions. On 1 April 1967, with from 50 to 60 hours experience under their belts, the Blackhawks began flying as Aircraft Commanders and Pilots in their own ships for the very first time.


1 Sep 1967 - This day was established as "Unit Day for the 187th Assault Helicopter Company. Since the unit was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina exactly one year ago on the 1st of September [1966]. The Blackhawks celebrated the day with pomp and Circumstance followed by steak dinners at the club. A CBS camera crew was on hand to film the occasion as well as to cover the Blackhawks in action while they flew combat assault missions for the 25th Infantry Division on the same day,


1 Mar 1968 - The 187th begins a campaign to find another name for the unit.   Another aviation unit arrived in Vietnam with a heritage to the name "Blackhawks" which dates back to 1832; the 7th Squadron, 1st Air Cav arrived in DiAn, RVN.

3 Mar 1968 - Nine aviators from the 7th of 1st Cav arrived for "in-country" training with the 187th.  Regardless of the unit’s name conflict the guests were accepted warmly in a manner for which the 187th has always been noted.

9 Mar 1968 - The aviators of the 7th of the 1st Cav Blackhawks returned to their unit after training with the 187th in combat assault and general support missions.   New aviators have always been accepted warmly by the Crusaders of the 187th but never in the past have any of them returned with our name.

10 Mar 1968 - The 187th Assault Helicopter Company voted on a new unit name.   The name "Crusaders" met approval and a vigorous program was initiated to spread the word.  New signs and symbols were placed in the company area.


23 Mar 1968 - On this day an official ceremony was conducted to publicly announce the new name of the 187th Assault Helicopter Company.   From this day on the unit will be the "Crusaders".  Television and radio personnel covered the event and the 25th Infantry Division Band added to the pomp and circumstance.  The 187th served as a Ready Reaction Force and the ceremony was interrupted when the flight received an urgent call to respond immediately to an assault mission near Phuoc Vinh, RVN.  The "Crusaders" scrambled to their helicopters and departed for the mission which continued through the hours of darkness.   The ceremony was never finished!


The Blackhawk helicopter you're wanting to build is probably too early for the black/white blades and orange sync elevator paintings.



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On 8/20/2022 at 10:05 AM, Wiggi said:



Hi Wigi,


1967 is far too early for the directive to paint the top of one blade white which was late war. You'll want the orange roof top band and tail markings.


All the high visibility markings went out the door pretty quickly in Vietnam starting as early as 1964-65 when UTTHCO was in-country. The roof top bands you are talking about denoted companies and could be international orange, blue, white, red or any combination of those colors or just a solid band or block extending from the rear edge of the top of the pilots door frame to the greenhouse or all the way to the top edge of the windscreen. Rooftop bands faded from use around 1968 early 1969. Two color tail boom markings for different companies  replaced the geometric markings from earlier in the war. 


Crusaders was the call sign after the switch. Here are some UH-1H Crusaders in flight showing the tail boom and vertical spar markings as well as skid colors. Black was the usual color for skids in Vietnam. As you mentioned you could have any number of colors for the skid steps, 'shoes', and end caps on the skids up to polished aluminum on VIP birds. Note, no roof top band anymore at this time. Eventually in 1970-71 the black anti-glare paint on the nose was switched over to all FS 34087 Olive Drab.




Here are some slides for your 1967 time frame UH-1Ds prior to the switch to the Crusaders nose art and still featuring the sky blue arrowhead with blackhawk head nose art. Note the vertical spar on 'Alerquin' is in green zinc chromate . Image is courtesy of USAAM @Rotorwash 



Another of this same 187th slick - Note the Australians tagged the troop cargo door. Again courtesy USAAM & @Rotorwash



Here is another USAAM image - I have not scanned my own 187th images yet as I'm waiting on a better digital scanner which means hundreds of slides sitting in three ring binders waiting for the light of day.



The above is a good shot as it also shows how your crew should look. Two piece Nomex flight suits were in high demand and supply issues were common meaning crews typically flew in jungle fatigues and you'll note the frag vest is still being worn versus the 'chicken plate' air crew body armor that would become standard. 


Anyway I have more if you're interested. Dont get discouraged if you dont get an immediate reply from the 187th Assoc. Sometimes you have to try multiple people until you get someone who will respond to you. Just the nature of life at 70+ years old for most of these veterans now. 


Have fun on your build!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dear all,

please excuse my late reply.

Thanks a lot for your valued information!

I haven't been aware that the Blackhawks and Crusaders have been the same unit just using different names.

The pictures are highly appreciated and some things have become much clearer now!

Any further pictures would also be highly appreciated.

Unfortunately pictures of Blackhawk UH-1 are very rare.

Many thanks in advance and all the best


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