1/35 Trumpeter Ch-47A Chinook

by Malcolm Reid



What can I say about this kit – mixed feelings – thanks to Trumpeter for being brave enough to go where no one has dared to go before. Good, relevant subject matter. However, this comes at a price (not monetary) – some inaccurate details, difficult assembly in places, lack of cabin detail etc. But then, that’s what makes modeling a challenge.  

I started building this kit with the distinct knowledge that I would not really have the space to store the completed article – even with this in mind, I was still amazed how much space it consumes once the rotors are on – it’s now languishing in a cupboard with its rotors off waiting for a large enough display cabinet to be procured.

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Assembly of the interior is quite straightforward. However, due to the lack of cabin detail (the cockpit itself is good) I decided to add troop seats (plastic rod and masking tape) as well as detail the fuselage sides adjacent to the rear ramp with plastic card ribs and other odds and sods. The rear ramp provided hours of confusion as to exactly how the top section opens (closes). It was only after many hours of reading through all my reference material followed by a subject search on ARC that all was revealed – the top section of the rear door slides into the lower section (ramp) – simple and quite obvious.  

The fuselage was then glued together. Herein lay the greatest problems I experienced with respect to construction. The underside is essentially a flat slab but this tended to bow upwards at the seam. Half the build time was occupied trying to eliminate this unsightly seam – I didn’t get it entirely correct. At least the top deck seam is hidden away by the transmission fairing.  

Fortunately the cockpit glazing fitted to the fuselage rather neatly with very little filler required. The rotor hubs and blade cuffs required a bit of work in terms of filling and sanding (seams) but once assembled looks the part. I like the droop provided on the blades (through the mould process). However, there is an inaccuracy here as, when at rest, the blades on a CH-47 sag downwards (the flapping hinge) until restrained by the blade droop stops. The blade arrangement provided by Trumpeter does not accommodate this so effectively the blades are in rotating position.  

I decided to add some detail to the starboard engine and leave the engine cover off. Intake screens are provided with the kit – neat photoetch units which must be carefully bent to shape – however, I could find NO reference photos of early A’s using these intake screens. The screen units themselves didn’t mate very well with the engine pods so a fair amount of filler was used in this area. The screens provide an extra bit of detail to the overall model so I fitted them anyway.  

I left off one of the rear circular windows as this seemed to be a common arrangement for Vietnam era A’s. I opened the forward port hatch. I “borrowed” some M60’s from a friend which I mounted inside the port hatch and starboard access door. I scratch built the gun mounts, ammo bins and spent casing bags – this adds a bit of interest to what is otherwise a pretty plain chopper.  

The undercarriage units are made of white metal which provide for a very sturdy feel once installed. Only problem is that the rear dual wheel arrangement is totally inaccurate. The dual wheel rear unit was used only on very early A versions (I’ve got some pics of these in use in Vietnam – however the majority of Vietnam pics of As show the later single wheel rear arrangement). The problem is, accepting that you are building a very early A with the dual wheel arrangement, the diameter of the wheels is way too large (almost by double) – pics of the dual wheel arrangement show very small wheels. Anyway, I decided that I was not going to mess around at this late stage and built the kit as is.  

The radio antennae running along the port side required a bit of extra work. The antennae posts are way too long (almost double the length of what they should be). The fixing arrangement is also incorrect in that there are two posts too many – check reference pics for the correct arrangement. I drilled a 0.3 mm hole in each post through which stretched clear sprue was passed to simulate the antenna wire. I’m not too sure that the arrangement of the antennas underneath the forward fuselage is correct – there seemed to be various configurations used in Vietnam .

Painting was done as follows – fuselage was pre-shaded using Tamiya X-18 semi-gloss black. Olive drab was then sprayed on using XtraColor gloss OD (X113 faded OD), lightened by 10% white. The helo I modeled had two orange patches, one on the top of each rotor pylon – this added a bit of colour. Using XtraColor gloss paints didn’t require any gloss varnishing before decaling. The rotor hub assemblies were painted dark grey (Humbrol H67), dry brushed with light grey and then washed with a black oil paint / white sprit mix to make them look suitably oily. The blades were also painted in Humbrol H67 and pastelled with black. Blade tips were painted yellow. Decals provided in the kit were really good, responding well to MicroSol/Set with the result that they look like they’re painted on. A coat of semi-gloss varnish sealed the decals. Now began the part I enjoy most – weathering – I used pastels to weather the various parts of the chopper using pics as reference. The main area of attention being around the rear fuselage behind and beneath the engine pods. Total time to pastel took about 3 hours. A final matt coat was applied to seal the entire helicopter. Final bits and pieces added and the completed model was finally consigned to the darkness of the cupboard !  

Overall not a bad kit and if it wasn’t for Chinese ingenuity, we’d still be wishing for one. It’s certainly the largest model in my collection. Now then Trumpeter, howzabout a 35th scale CH-53E ??


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Photos and text © by Malcolm Reid