1/72 Italeri MH-47E SOA Chinook

by Albert Moore



History and Development 

            Since 1962, the Boeing CH-47 Chinook continues to operate with the U.S. Army as well as the Armed Forces of other countries, providing troop transport and heavy cargo lifting.  Developed in 1956, the Chinook has been upgraded as technology in avionics and other systems improve.  Powered by two Textron Lycoming T-55 L714 Turboshaft engines, the Chinook has a maximum speed of 170 knots and a combat radius of 350 miles.  The MH-47E represents the ultimate in upgrades to the venerable heavy lifter.  Outfitted with a myriad of sensors and warning recievers, the MH-47Eís main mission is the clandestine infiltration and exfiltration of the Armyís elite Special Forces.  Contracts for the development of the MH-47E was awarded to Boeing in 1987.  The MH-47E flies with the U.S. Armyís 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) along with MH-60L Blackhawk and the MH-6 Little Bird.  Modifications to the MH-47E include: 

  1. An inflight refueling probe, extending the range and effectiveness of the MH-47E.

  2. Significantly increased fuel capacity with modified main and auxillary fuel tanks.

  3. Threat warning receivers, chaff/flare dispensers, and other countermeasures.

  4. Integrated avionics suites and multi-mode radars, FLIR turret for night operations. 

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   For defense, the MH-47 relies on low level flying and the punch of two .50 calibur machine guns.  The MH-47E can also employ the Stinger air-to-air missile system.  As with most U.S Armed Forces hardware, the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 pressed the MH-47E into service fighting  al-Queda and Taliban Forces in the mountainous terrain of Afganistan, as apart of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Dependable and rugged, the MH-47E will be apart of the conflicts that continue to threaten the United States and itsí interests. 


The Kit 

                Italeri continued itís line of  1/72 CH-47 variants in 2001 with the release of the MH-47E SOA Chinook (#1218).  The kit contains three olive drab sprues, one clear sprue, and decals.  The fuselage has recessed panel details and various vents. The instructions are mostly comprehensive, though like other reviewers have noted that some detail placement can be vague at times.  Most of the work with this kit involves removing the small fuel tanks from the fuselage and replacing them with the larger tanks Italeri provides.  Following the interior guidelines, the smaller tanks were removed using the back of an X-acto knife blade.  The fuselage was cleaned up with a sanding stick in preparation for the larger tanks to be fitted.  Initially I thought the tanks would take a lot of work to blend them into to the fuselage, but it wasnít the case at all.  They fit well and didnít require much work beyond a little super glue to fill some gaps.  There are a couple of inserts (pts 34A, 35A) to add to the fuselage to change the window layout (changes the windows from square to the round port hole window ).  With the conversion to the fuselage completed, I started work on the interior. 

        The forward cargo bulkhead and rear cockpit bulkhead were attached to the cargo deck, the foot pedals, collective controls, and cyclic controls were added to the cockpit floor.  The cargo area and interior walls were painted FS 36231 Dark Gull Gray, while the cockpit was painted Model Master Aircraft Interior Black.  The seats were painted Model Master flat black with light grey belts and silver buckles.  The instrument panel in the kit is not correct for this particular model as the real MH-47E has four MFD screens and a small cluster of gauges and dials.  I used the kit instrument panel, painted it black and drybrushed the detail that was there, as the panel really canít be seen once the model is finished.  After drybrushing the cockpit to add a lttle depth, it was attached to the right fuselage half.  The windows were added next with Micro Krystal-Klear and a little CA glue for reinforcement.  The rotor shafts were attached to the rotor mounts and then added to the right fuselage half.  Prior to closing the fuselage halves together,  the front main strut mounts were added as well as the door/window machine gun mounts.  The fit of the fuselage was relatively good, though a little tweaking was necessary.  I bypassed step 5, which called for adding the engines and canopy/nose section as these could be added after the bottom of the fuselage was glued into place.  The two major problems that occurred with this kit was the bottom fuselage plate and the cargo door.  Neither fit well, in fact the bottom plate was warped and had to be persuaded to fit right.  The cargo door exterior and bottom plate need to have some holes drilled out for items that will be added later.  The cargo door was assembled per instructions, but when test fitted, it didnít come close to reaching the upper door opening when closed.  To solve this problem, the pins that allowed the door to open and closed were removed and the door glued into place. The two rails (54A) were added to cargo door, and resulting lines cleaned up.

       The bottom plate was added to the fuselage, gaps filled with Zap-a-gap CA glue and sanded out, then repeated until I was satisfied with the appearance.  The engines, canopy/nose piece, and large fuselage parts were attached to the fuselage.  All gaps were filled, sanded and polished out in preparation for painting.  At this point, all the add-ons (antennas, receivers, sensors etc.) as well as the inflight refueling probe, terrain following radar, and winch were attached to the fuselage.  The rotors were assemble then put to the side to paint later. 

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Painting and Finishing 

            Like most U.S. Army choppers, the MH-47E in finished in FS 34031 Army Helo Drab, though some Special Ops choppers are finished in black or a really dark, dark green with olive drab lettering.  Do not use the overall color of Olive Drab (FS 34087) suggested by Italeri.  The canopy as well as the fuselage windows were masked off with Bare Metal Foil.  Using an Aztek airbrush, a base coat of Model Master Army Helo Drab was applied straight from the jar.  I used the opportunity to check for flaws before moving onto the main coats of paint.  White (about 20%) was added to MM Army Helo Drab, then applied in thin coats to keep from totally obscuring the base coat.  After the main coat dried, more white was added to the main color for highlighting purposes.  The highlight coat was applied randomly to create a faded, splotchy finish.  A couple of panels were painted with the base coat to simulate recent replacement.  Future Floor Wax was sprayed onto the model and allowed to dry in preparation for the decals.

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   A dark thinner wash was used to accentuate the vents and some panel lines to bring them out a bit.  Next, the decals were applied.  The decal sheet is sparse, containing some walkways, U.S. Army signage, and minimal data stenciling.  Missing were the tail numbers, which were obtained from a another sheet.  The walkways for the upper fuselage did not fit, so they were pitched.  In fact they donít even match the walkways shown on the decal placement guide.  Also shown on the sheet are some ďSTEPĒ decals that go on the fuselage.  These must be hold overs from previous Chinook kits as every MH-47E picture Iíve seen doesnít show the STEP decals at all.  The decals responded well to setting solutions, and were no trouble to apply.  Testors Acryl Dull coat was airbrushed onto the model after the decals had dried.  The window maskings were removed, the windows were waxed, and the last of the small details (windshield wipers, .50 cal. guns, landing gear) were added.  The rotors were painted black, the edge of the blades drybrushed with Magnesium Metalizer, then glued to their mounts.  To finish it off, Micro Krystal-Klear was used the simulate navigation lights.  When set up, the light were tinted with Tamiya clear red and green.  

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            I have to admit, Iíve never been much of a fan of the Chinook, but the MH-47E looks menacing with itís array of antennas and receivers, plus itsí dark drab paint scheme.  The .50 calibur machine gun make it look all the more aggressive.  Italeriís MH-47E was a pleasure to build, and just looks cool as hell to boot.  The fit overall was good aside from the cargo door and fuselage bottom.  You canít go wrong with a one color paint scheme, so painting the Chinook is easy as well.  This kit would be a good starting point for someone trying to attempt their first conversion, though beginners may want to wait till they have some completed kits under their belts before jumping into this elite chopper.


Photos and text © by Albert Moore