Italeriís 1/72 H-19B Chickasaw
By Chris Bucholtz
If the Bell Model 47 made that companyís name as a producer of military helicopters, the Sikorsky S-55 did the same for its makers. The S-55, which entered service in the U.S. Army as the H-19, was ordered in 1948. Evaluations were so successful that the H-19 (or HO4S as it was known in Navy service) went into production and stayed there until 1036 examples had been built for the U.S. military. Further production by Westland in the U.K. and SNACA du Sud Est in France increased the numbers built, and civilian manufacture added further to the S-55ís legacy.
Until now, helicopter fans looking to build this historic helicopter had to make due with the aged Airfix kit, which required a lot of help to make presentable. Italeriís H-19B, which depicts the search and rescue variant, is a vast improvement over the past state of the art, as have many of their recent helicopter kits, but could also do with a bit of detail.
The cockpit is a good example of this, starting with the pilot and co-pilotís seats. These are both beautifully sculpted to represent cushioning, but no seat belts are present. These glue to a rear cockpit bulkhead that in turn goes onto a piece that includes the base of the rotor mast; this is blanked off from the rest of the interior with two bulkheads that feature well-represented quilted coverings. The center console is nice, but the main instrument panel relies on decal instruments; there are control columns, but no collectives.
Inside the cabin, Italeri provides seven very well molded bench seats. These go on a floor section riddled with ejector pin marks, two of which will be plainly visible when the seats are in place. The interior of the fuselage halves also have four ejection pin marks on each side that should be eliminated, especially if the side door is depicted in the open position. The roof of the cabin also needs work; itís the bottom of the rotor mast base, and itís only detail is in the form of yet more ejector pin marks and the opening for the rotor mast.
The fuselage detail is quite nice, although in some places itís a bit deep. The only major headache will be the center panel of the screening around the engine, which is broken down the middle of the scribed screening. The tail boom is provided separately, allowing Italeri to mold several versions of the helicopter. The round access points on the tail rotor drive shaft housing are split down the middle, requiring some careful clean-up from the modeler.
The glass parts are fairly clear, but the windscreen has a windshield wiper molded into it. This detail is virtually impossible to paint to look right, and this reviewer wishes the model companies would leave it out altogether.
The landing gear detail is adequate, and the rotor detail is quite nice out of the box. The main rotors have droop built into them, a nice detail and something that should prevent modelers from putting them on backwards. The rescue sling is refined in its detail, but a sink mark in this small piece will pose a bit of work.
Decals are for a USAF Military Air Transport Service H-19B in overall silver with yellow bands and a second USAF H-19B in silver with a fluorescent red band and nose. The decals are well printed--especially the MATS badge--and the side numbers for the MATS bird are elongated to fit over a reinforcing rib on the tail boom, a nice touch.
With a bit of work on the inside, and some clean-up of the usual ejector pin marks and flash, Italeriís H-19B could be a stunner. Helicopter fans will have a ball building this kit and pondering the many color schemes it could wear.