by: Mike Still [ ]
The fourth in Panda Models’ Huey series, (two UH-1Ds and a Navy UH-1N preceding), the “Gunship” UH-1N issue adds sponson frames for pintle-mounted spade grip M-60’s and racks for multi-shot rocket pods to the basic Navy UH-1N kit.I’d seen the -1D built up at a contest earlier this spring and was pretty impressed with the overall outline despite some soft details. When I spied the -1N on eBay for under $20, I couldn’t resist the urge to get one for a Navy or Marine bird.
After opening the packing and getting to the box, I found six sprues of gray plastic along with a sprue of thick yet pretty transparent clear parts. A separate ‘twin-pac’ engine cowling is included as well as the old single-turbine 1D housing and several other 1D parts to be discarded.A single folded-sheet of instructions gives no history but shows a sprue diagram and pictorial assembly steps. All color callouts are for Gunze Sangyo (now GSI Creos) paints with no FS numbers.Generally, the moldings are well defined with no flash. Overall surface detail and crispness are reminiscent of Trumpeter’s earlier large-scale jet kits -- not Tamiya/Hasegawa sharpness but better than Matchbox. A quick test fit of the fuselage halves showed good but slightly fiddly fit, since locating pins are on the tail boom area only.
Overall, the Panda kit looks like a UH-1N except for that nagging nose shape. I didn’t have any good drawings on hand, but comparing the Panda nose to about 50 online photos at various angles strongly suggest that the upper nose needs a sharper downward taper. Unless you’re really good at carving masters for vacuformed or resin-molded sections, a good approach might be to backfill the upper nose with super glue and accelerator. CAREFULLY file the upper nose down to the rough contours before finishing the job with various grits of wet-dry sandpaper and rescribing of the upper nose battery access panel.Again, being less than expert on the Huey line’s more arcane details, I’d check photos and drawings for whatever option you choose.
Like I said, detail ranges from non-existent to good. The cockpit features heavily-molded cyclic and collective sticks, yaw pedals, armored seat pans and separate seat frames - all reminiscent of Matchbox‘s better 1/32 scale efforts. Separate seat cushions are provided with molded-in harnesses. The typical Huey nose internal frames with lightening holes are also provided.The seat pans differ strongly from photos I was able to find on the Internet - and there are plenty of good photos to be had with a quick Google search - although the cushions seen acceptable on first glance.The instrument panel is flat - no instrument detailing whatsoever - but with a fair coaming and basic console. The cabin roof includes the overhead console with some basic switch and knob details. The main cabin is a little better, with non-skid flooring, slightly heavy troop seat benches and separate soundproofing panels for the “hell hole” jutting into the cabin. The overall cabin assembly is reminiscent of the arrangement used on the old Revell 1/32 UH-1D.The two separate soundproofing pads are not necessarily a bad thing either - some photos of current duty Marine UH-1N’s show the soundproofing removed. Check your references.The main cabin doors also have zero interior detail.The Panda UH-1N’s highlight is the weapons sprues. Reminiscent of a DML/ Dragon weapons set, the sprues include two M-60 aviation-style MG’s with spade grips and mount cradles, two older infantry-style M-60’s, pintles, fuselage mounts, ammo belts and ammo bags. It would have been nice to have 0.50 calibers, 7.62 mm miniguns and the mounts and ammo rigs for those weapons, however.Basic shapes are there for the main and tail rotors but are a bit on the bare side. I don’t know enough to comment on the accuracy of the blades, so any knowledgeable folks out there are welcomed and encouraged to join in.If you’re going to do a late Marine UH-1N, you will need to do some pretty hefty scratch building for the various flare/chaff dispensers, electronic/infrared countermeasures and sensor fits to be found. Again, a Google search will reveal a lot of those details.One interesting thing - the single-turbine housing marked as discard parts in the instructions actually gives you a bonus option. The Japanese Self-Defense Force uses a modified UH-1J that has the UH-1N’s nose shape but is powered by a single 1,800 shaft horsepower turbine.
You get two options: a USAF special ops bird described by the instructions as one of the “Green Hornets” and depicted on the box top’s photograph. The other is a Marine bird, Bu. No. 159405, with no identifying squadron markings. Two styles of national insignia and basic intake and rotor warning markings round out the small sheet.The decals appear very thick and glossy - a LOT like Monogram kit decals in the 1980s - and I’m really not sure how well they’ll lay down.Frankly, this is no Tamiya kit. If you’ve been raised on the last 5 or 10 years of Tamiya and Revell new 1/32 releases, the lack of finesse on some details and lack of modern avionics and weapons options might be disappointing.On the other hand, Cobra Company has already issued a correction and detail set for the UH-1D and a similar set could very well be in the offing for the -1N. And, thankfully, good photographic coverage of the N is abundant on the Internet.Overall, Panda’s -1N is a nice step up for the beginner with a few kits under his or her belt, and the more experienced builder may actually enjoy the challenge of nudging this kit into contest quality work.If you’re doing a Marine November and are scouring the web for reference, I’d especially recommend Steven Lu’s photo walk around he did for Aircraft Resource Center (see below) as a good place to answer questions and begin asking other right questions. Also, a Google search using the keywords “UH-1N photos” will yield a wealth of military and civilian photographs with ideas for more than just USAF and USN/USMC Hueys.
Copyright ©2021 text by Mike Still [ ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.