Al's Old Kit Corner

By Al Superczynski

Esoteric Models Bell 47
Kit #NAV-1

This is one of the few 1/72 scale kits of this diminutive helicopter, made famous by its prominent role in the movie "MASH" and the follow-on hit TV series of the same name.

The kit consists of over 20 white metal parts, two in tan resin, a vac-formed canopy "bubble", an extensive fret of brass photo-etched parts, and a smaller one containing just four pieces.

The canopy is crystal clear and free of flaws but is not marked for trimming so a great deal of care would be required to get it right the first time around since there's no spare. The resin parts are very well done, while the white metal parts are usable but suffer from some pitting and a fair amount of flash - many of these would have been better done in resin as well.

The etched metal parts are well done and present a novel attempt at capturing the spindly appearance of the fuselage framework. This is commendable since the method allows scale thickness but has a major drawback in that it tries to represent cylindrical shapes with essentially flat pieces - a common fault of even many current photo-etched detailing sets. The parts concerned could be filled out with repeated applications of paint, super glue, or epoxy but it would probably not be all that more difficult to use them as a pattern to make one's own structure from either metal or plastic rod.

The main rotor blades, rotor head, counter balances, tail rotor, and various control sticks are also done in etched metal. While not as big a problem as the fuselage these are likewise not flat two-dimensional shapes on the real thing and need to be refined or replaced to avoid a toylike look on the finished model. The few remaining etched parts are fine for use as is.

High quality decals and full painting/marking diagrams are provided for US, West German, British, and Japanese military machines.

As far as I know there have only been two other 1/72 scale kits of the Bell 47: a very basic model by Scratchbilt consisting mainly of a bunch of plastic rod, plans, and a canopy bubble, and the currently available (and much superior) Italeri kit. The latter admittedly suffers from an overly thick fuselage structure but is much easier to build. In any case it wouldn't be any harder to build the framework from scratch than it would be with either of the other two kits, and it looks fine straight out of the box if one isn't hypercritical about such things

So, what do we have? A laudable attempt at a difficult subject, but thankfully superseded by an injection molded kit. The Esoteric model might be attractive to a collector, or as a source for decals and detailing parts if one could be picked up cheap. Give this one a miss unless you fall into one of these two categories.

See you all again next month. Till then, model on and "Build what YOU like, the way YOU want to."

Be sure to visit Al's Place while you're surfing the 'Net!

pragolog-sm.jpg (5410 bytes)

< Columns Index

Sprue Bits >