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Got it! A Special Hobby UH-12 Raven helicopter

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  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Got it! A Special Hobby UH-12 Raven helicopter
Posted by Bobstamp on Saturday, December 12, 2020 6:34 PM

When I restarted my teenage hobby of building scale model ships and airplanes, the first kit I completed was a 1/48 T-34B Mentor, making my own decals and adding details to make it look like the U.S. Forest Service T-34B I crashed in in New Mexico’s Black Range in 1962. From that new beginning, I have gone on to build kits that reflect my own history, somewhat frustrated that I couldn’t find some particular kits. I have succeeded in finding these:

• A Marine Corps Seahorse helicopter like the ones that took me into battle in Vietnam and then evacuated me to a field hospital after I was wounded, and then to the hospital ship U.S. Repose where I had surgery that probably saved my right leg. I’ve also built a H.P.52 Hampden bomber to replicate the aircraft that I learned about when I was researching the death of a Canadian observer who was killed when his Hampden crashed in Denmark following a 1942 raid on Rostock, Germany. My current project is a 1/500 scale Revell model of U.S.S. Haven, which I am building as U.S.S. Repose

• And now I have lucked out and found a kit of another helicopter that means a great deal to me, a 1/72 Special Hobby UH-12 Raven.Why is it important? Because, after my plane crash and after a spending a night being attended to by smokejumpers who volunteered to jump to the crash scene, it was a UH-12 that plucked me from the mountainside and evacuated me to hospital in my hometown, Silver City, NM. That summer, the helicopter was being leased by the U.S. Forest Service from Whirl-Wide Helicopters, Inc. of Fresno, California. Just the previous week, I had had three flights in that helicopter while I did research and took photographs for a newspaper story I was writing about Fire Fighting in the Gila National Forest.

I started searching for a Raven kits when I started building models again, but they are rare! As far as I’ve been able to determine, Special Hobby is the only company that’s ever produced one. Several months ago I found several for sale by an Asian company, and I ordered and paid for two of them, but my order was never acknowledged and never charged through MasterCard; emails to the company went unanswered. 

The breakthrough came yesterday when I found the Special Hobby Raven kit on eBay. There was already a bidding war going on — bids had gone up to US $42. I waited until until about a minute was left in the auction, and placed a bid of $150. Several seconds passed, and then the previous high bidder placed a bid for $46, and then with just 10 seconds left, he bid U.S.$130. Then it was over. MasterCard has acknowledged my purchase, and the model has been shipped. Here it is:

And now I’ll continue searching for three more models, all ambulance planes which evacuated me from Vietnam. Two of them seem to be readily available — A C-130 Hercules, which evacuated me from DaNang to the Clark AFB in the Philippines, and a Military Airlift Command C-141A Starlifter, which flew me from Clark to Travis AFB near San Francisco via Hickam AFB in Hawaii, where I received my Purple Heart.

The third model I’m interested in finding is…well, I don’t actually know what it is, because I was heavily sedated and have no memory of the flight, or even of leaving Travis or arriving in San Diego. I’ve wondered if I might be able to find some information about military evacuation flights within the U.S. If anyone has suggestions on how I might go about that, I'd appreciate knowing your thoughts.

Bob

 

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    January 2020
Posted by Space Ranger on Saturday, December 12, 2020 11:24 PM

That last flight was probably on a C-9 Nightingale (military DC-9). Atlantis has reissued the old Aurora 1/72 DC-9. It's a DC-9-10, but can easily be converted to a DC-9-30, which is what the C-9 was, IIRC.

And Zvezda has a new 1/72 C-130 which blows away the old Italeri and Airfix kits.

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Sunday, December 13, 2020 3:03 AM

Hello Bob!

Funny thing is I have bought this kit many years ago along with a TH-55 Osage - and the Osage is completed and the Hiller is still in the box... But the price you paid sure is high... I don't think I spent more than 20$ on this baby when it was new.

Now building this kit is tricky - it has a vac-formed bubble and if I recall correctly it's two-part. The main reason I didn't build my chopper right away was I felt couldn't find enough references to do it right.

I wish you good luck with your model and if I can help you in any way, I'd be glad to! Have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: East Bethel, MN
Posted by midnightprowler on Sunday, December 13, 2020 7:54 AM

I had both the TH-55 and the UH-12. Ended up trading both as the vac formed cockpits are just too hard for me to deal with. Good luck.

Hi, I am Lee, I am a plastiholic.

Co. A, 682 Engineers, Ltchfield, MN, 1980-1986

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Ask me about Speedway Decals

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Sunday, December 13, 2020 10:59 AM

Thanks for your responses. I have read one Raven build review that painted a glum picture, and another that was relatively positive. Both mention the canopy problem. If it doesn't work out, I'll blame my wife, who wasn't bothered by the high cost of the model and convinced me with this news: "You're only going to live once," she said. Who knew? 

Bob

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: East Bethel, MN
Posted by midnightprowler on Sunday, December 13, 2020 1:31 PM

Well if you built the tiny  TH55 you shouldn't have trouble with the UH12.

Hi, I am Lee, I am a plastiholic.

Co. A, 682 Engineers, Ltchfield, MN, 1980-1986

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Ask me about Speedway Decals

  • Member since
    October 2004
  • From: Orlando, Florida
Posted by ikar01 on Sunday, December 13, 2020 8:03 PM

The Herk was most likely a C-130E.  We had many Herks at Little Rock and some of them were used to transport personnel out of Vietnam.  The C-141A will be a slightly harder model to find.  Aurora did one a long time ago and there is a small model of it, about 1/200th scale if I remember by DML.

I agree, the C-9 most likely was the last oneyou were on.  They had them making circuit flights all over the country,  Airfix did a !.144th model or a DC-9 that can be made into a C-9 fairly easily, make a cargo door on the left side, cover a couple windows and that's it.  Your main problem will be decals like the red cross, and I think the MAC baadge and letering for its command as well as the blue stripe seperating the white from the grey colors. I'm pretty aure it was under the command of MAC but it's been al ong itme since I've seen a C-9.  Here's the best shot I could find on short notice:

The C-141A had the same colors 

:

 

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Sunday, December 13, 2020 9:26 PM

Once again, thanks to everyone for responding with such useful information. However...

I've learned that the aircraft which transported me from Travis AFB to San Diego, on the final leg of my evacuation from Vietnam, could not have been a C-9 Nightingale, because that aircraft wasn't delivered to the Air Force (or anyone else) until 1968, and I was wounded in March, 1966. So my Travis - San Diego flight had to be on some other aircraft. 

I did a brief search on-line for C-141A models and found a few Aurora ones, but they're pricey. I'll keep looking, or perhaps win a lottery! Haven't searched yet for a Hercules C-130E. Now I've got to get back to that hospital ship!

Bob

 

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    October 2004
  • From: Orlando, Florida
Posted by ikar01 on Monday, December 14, 2020 6:25 PM

From the list I found, the most likely aircraft would be the C-119, C-123, C-124, C-133, C-54, and possibly the C-135.

The easiest to load personnel would be the C-119, 123, and 124, you would just walk up teh ramps to the cargo hold.  The others might require fork lift or cargo loader of some type. It could have been another C-141.  Travis was one of the main shipping points and had at least one squadron stationed there.  I was at Dover and we had about the same amount of aircraft as they did.

Then again, have you considered a somewhat large transport helicopter?

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Saturday, March 6, 2021 10:36 PM

Well, I wondered how smart I was paying what I did for the Raven UH-12 model from Special Hobby. Today, for the first time, I saw down with the model, first trying to make sense out of the instructions, which are the worst I've seen. Helpful they are not!

Then I tangled with a couple of the resin parts. It was my first "resin adventure" — what weird stuff! But I can deal with it. Then I looked more carefully at the vacuformed canopy parts, and tried to separate them, using a sprue cutter. Disaster! There was a crack like a pistol shot, and the plastic cracked right into the back of the top canopy part. I think that the crack wouldn't be visible in the completed model, but I can't be sure because the instructions are so...godawful! But it's a moot point, because I was only able to complete the separation using a tiny saw, drilling multiple holes, and finally the sprue cutter again. But I can't imagine how it would be possible to cleanly separate the canopies from the rest of the plastic sheet they're formed from. The stuff is more brittle than glass!

I think I would go crazy trying to make a silk purse out of this particular sow's ear. There's certainly no point in continuing if I can't be sure the canopy will fit, even if I could get it properly trimmed. How disappointing!

Bob

 

 

 

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: East Bethel, MN
Posted by midnightprowler on Sunday, March 7, 2021 8:36 AM

Sprue cutters are not the correct tool for cutting vac formed plastic, a sharp #11 or scissors are  however.

Hi, I am Lee, I am a plastiholic.

Co. A, 682 Engineers, Ltchfield, MN, 1980-1986

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Ask me about Speedway Decals

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Sunday, March 7, 2021 9:48 AM

here's an Idea!

      Is the Canopy still in one piece though? If so, do this, It has worked for me in the past. Depending on the size of the part. Take a childs type modeling clay-The non oily type. Put it gently inside the canopy till it's filled with no voids. Then put it in the refrigerator!

   You then remove it from the Fridge and you have a one time mold for a new Canopy out of Evergreen .010 Clear sheet! If you know someone with a home built Vac-Forming machine you are in luck. If not, there's an alternative. Play-Doh!

 Yup! Do the same with it and then carefully remove it from the canopy and bake lightly until hard as a rock, But slowly so it won't crack. If it does regular hobby putty will work to fill them. Evergreen Sheet again and a very Powerful hair dryer! Work in a circular fashion till the part slumps into the mold in all areas. 

   YES, it's a lot of work! I don't know about your finances, but If it was me, that described within is what I would have to do to make sure I got my return on this model investment. I did this with an old Aurora Bell helicopter kit some time back. Why? because the little Bird was built right at bell aircraft's plant, near Grandma's house and you could see all the new ones before they covered them up for shipping to the Korean Front!

  Plus, I paid an exorbitant price for it and the canopy was broken clean in two! The seller sent a pic of it ready to mail.It was in a completely intact box. When I recieved it one half of the length of the box looked like someone stepped on it!

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Sunday, March 7, 2021 5:06 PM

midnightprowler
Sprue cutters are not the correct tool for cutting vac formed plastic, a sharp #11 or scissors are however.

Apparently not for this Special Hobby kit! I tried sharp scissors first, then a sharp #11 blade. The scissors barely put a knick in the plastic, and the blade no more than a shallow scratch.

Bob

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by Eaglecash867 on Sunday, March 7, 2021 5:35 PM

A jeweler's saw with a 4/0 blade cuts easily and gently through hard but fragile materials and can follow curves.  Just use a light touch and let the saw do the work...no more cracks.  Cool

"You can have my illegal fireworks when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers...which are...over there somewhere."

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Sunday, March 7, 2021 7:03 PM

Tanker-Builder
Is the Canopy still in one piece though? If so, do this, It has worked for me in the past….

Eaglecash867
A jeweler's saw with a 4/0 blade cuts easily and gently through hard but fragile materials and can follow curves.  Just use a light touch and let the saw do the work...no more cracks.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Tankerbuilder's DIY suggestions might work if the canopy parts were clearly defined from the flashing, but they're not. The flashing and canopy are equal in thickness (and brittleness), and the transition from flashing to canopy is smooth as glass. You just can't tell where the flashing ends and the canopy parts begin. Even if the canopy parts were clearly defined, they don't fit over the cockpit parts, which would have to be trimmed considerably, with zero guidance about how much to trim them. 

Eaglecash867 suggested that I use a 4/0 jewellers saw to separate the canopies from the flash. I actually did use a small modelling saw to separate the canopies, and I expect that a jeweller's saw would be much better. However, for the reasons mentioned above it would not be a solution, not for this model. 

In addition to the problems with the canopy, the model is very poorly designed. It's impossible to tell just where most of the engine parts are supposed to be attached, nor would assembly be anything close to easy. The tail boom is a case in point. There are no pins or flanges to help align it, and the contact point with the rest of the fuselage has an attachement area of about 36 square millimetres (5/100 square inch). That joint would be weak, and it would be tricky to get the boom lined up with the rest of the helicopter's frame. Overall, it just seems that trying to build that model would be one difficulty or impossibility after another. At the very least, it's above even my Navy pay grade (E4)!

Bob

 

 

 

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Northern California
Posted by jeaton01 on Monday, March 8, 2021 11:58 AM

It sounds like the horse is out of the barn, but I rarely go near vacform canopies with any kind of blade.  I use a dremel tool with a grinding bit or sanding drum at low speed to cut up to the demarcation line.  If the line is not distinct then I outline it best I can with masking tape on the part not to be cut.  I do use some Tamiya miniature scissors made for cutting out decals to do the initial cutting, but with a generous margin away from the final edge, and I never cut toward the part, only parallel to the edge or away from it.  This is the best method for working with plexiglas in full scale aircraft.  Cutting will create stress risers and the brittle material will crack from those points.  Better to use a tool that creates enough heat to melt the edges as you cut.

John

To see build logs for my models:  http://goldeneramodel.com/mymodels/mymodels.htm

 

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 6:50 PM

We’ll how about that! If you were following this thread, you’ll know that I bought a Special Hobby kit of the Hiller OH-12 Raven helicopter. As a 19-year old correspondent for the El Paso Times, working out of Silver City, New Mexico, I flew several times in a Raven while I was working on a feature story about fire fighting in the Gila National Forest. My last ride in the Raven was the “best” for sure, because it evacuated me to hospital from the crash site where the Beech T-34B mentor lead plane I’d snagged a ride in crashed, near a fire. 

Naturally, when I re-started my teenage hobby of building scale models, I wanted to build a Raven, which is extremely unrepresented among model makers. Eventually I found the Special Hobby kit, which proved to be virtually un-buildable, with terrible instructions, poor resin parts, and a brittle canopy (which I broke trying to remove it from the sprue). I gave up after an hour.

This is the Special Hobby kit. Don't buy it unless you hate yourself:

 

Last week, on a whim, I went a-googling to see if anyone else had come up with a model of the Raven, and…Bingo! I found a 1/72 LF styrene kit of the Raven at a reasonable price and ordered it on the spot. It can’t possibly be worse than the Special Hobby version, and will hopefully be better. Even if it isn’t much better, my skills have improved a bit so perhaps, eventually, I’ll have a Raven on the shelf to go along with my completed T-34B model. Here's the LF kit box art:

An interesting historical note: the terrible Vietnam War incident known somewhat incorrectly as the My Lai Massacre came to light when a U.S. pilot flying a Raven came upon the village and actually was able to evacuate some villagers who hadn’t yet been killed by American soldiers and report to incident up the chain of command, not that it did any good. No one, including the company commander, got more than a slap on the wrist.

I learned recently that the My Lai Massacre occured just a handfull of kilometres from Hill 50, where I was seriously wounded when a combined unit of Main Force Viet Cong and a North Vietnamese regiment ambushed my U.S. Marine Corps company.

Bob

 

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 5:53 AM

Hello Bob!

Good news! I'd love to see you do the In-Box of the new kit - if its better, then I'd gladly tackle the new kit rather than fighting the old Special Hobby one.

There's one book on Vietnam I'd like to recommend - "Kill anything that moves" - very interesting but also very sad read...

Good luck with your OH-23,lookin' forward to see the pics and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    August 2021
Posted by lurch on Friday, March 25, 2022 10:05 PM

That looks like a great kit to do. I like it and will be following this.

  • Member since
    July 2019
  • From: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posted by Bobstamp on Monday, April 18, 2022 2:02 PM

Oh... my... God! Live and learn. Or, live, spend, and learn!

If you’ve been following this thread, you’ll recall that after learning that my Special Hobby UH-23 Hiller helicopter kit was essentially unbuildable, especially with my limited skills, I found a model of the same helicopter by LF models, a Czech company. A couple of days ago, waiting for some putty to dry on the Grumman TBM I’m working on, I got started on the LF kit. As I wrote above, Oh... my... God!

Instructions are vague, even indecipherable. 

Parts are molded in styrene that is so soft that filing and sanding it seems to fray the plastic rather than remove it.

The moulding is “soft” for lack of a better word. It’s almost as if the sprues were based on soft-focus photographs.

Some parts prevent other parts from fitting. 

Several parts have no clear attachment points at all. 

Last night, I had a great idea! At least it seemed like a great idea : I still have the Special Hobby kit, which like the LF kit is also in 1/72 scale. Perhaps, I thought, I could exchange various part to make one buildable kit. No such luck.

The cockpit parts of each model scarcely resemble each other.

The scale and details of the engine parts do not match, and if I were able to build each of them, the Special Hobby engine would be larger by several scale steps than the LF engine.

The helicopters’ rotor blades don’t match. The LF blades are a bit shorter than the Special Hobby blades, and taper toward the tip; the leading and trailing edges of the Special Hobby kit’s rotor blades are parallel.

Finally, the LF kit’s instructions include the requirement to bend two short lengths of wire of different diameters to 90-degree angles. I assume that the wires are supposed to represent pitot tubes, but the kit doesn’t include any wire or say how long the pieces of wire are to be or where they are to be placed. 

I have no pretensions that I am more than a rank amateur as a modeller. There are no doubt some members of this group who could build presentable models from either of the two UH-23 kits, but me, I’m giving up on them. Hopefully, the TBM and Pegasus Nautilus kits that I’m building won’t throw any spanners into my works!

Bob

Tags: Raven , Hiller , LF , OH-23 , UH-23

On the bench: 1/72 Grumman Avenger being kitbashed as a U.S. Forest Service tanker; a diorama to illustrate the crash of a Beech T-34B Mentor which I survived in 1962 (I'm using Minicraft's 1/48 model of the Mentor), and a Pegasus model of the submarine Nautilus of 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas fame. 

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Monday, April 18, 2022 3:48 PM

Some of those limited run companies can require more effort to build.  I'm not a fan of Special Hobby stuff for that reason.  I'm not aware of LF.  Put them up on the shelf and build a few more kits.  Maybe some more build time will give you the patience/skills to build one of them.  Or maybe Tamiya will come out with a kit ;)

Thanks,

John

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